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Polycystic Ovary Disease or PCOD: What is It, Cause of the Disease, Symptoms

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According to Women’s Health reports, one in every ten women suffers from polycystic ovary disease or PCOD during their reproductive age. Not only does the condition affect the reproductive organs in women, but it also affects the body’s natural homeostasis, especially with the hormone balance in the body.

Despite the raging prevalence of this disease, several women don’t even get diagnosed with the disease until later in life. It can have major impacts on one’s mental and physical well-being and alter overall appearance when left untreated.

This article will discuss everything one should know about polycystic ovary disease and the causes and symptoms that come with it.

Also Read: PCOD vs PCOS: What is the Difference?

What is PCOD?

Before you jump the bandwagon thinking PCOD and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) are the same, we need to pull you down. They are two different conditions, albeit with few of their similarities. The full form of PCOD is Polycystic Ovary Disease.

Women have  two ovaries in their reproductive anatomy. Every month, one of the ovaries alternatingly releases a mature egg for fertilization. In the event that the mature egg does not fertilize, menstruation occurs. However, in women suffering from PCOD, their ovaries produce and release multiple immature eggs from their follicles. But only one mature egg goes into the fallopian tube for fertilization. The remaining immature eggs left behind in the ovaries, later turning into cysts.

Over months and years, these small unreleased and partially matured eggs form a cluster of cysts, causing a polycystic environment in the ovaries. The worst part about this condition is not even the formation of these cysts.

The cluster of cysts that accumulate in the ovaries over a period results in:

  • Enlargement of the ovaries
  • Release of high levels of androgens in the body
  • Suppresses the release of estrogen and progesterone in the body

The lack of proper balance and periodic release of hormones in the body results in an unregulated menstrual cycle. This can further lead to risks of infertility and other changes in physical appearance, including an increase in facial hair production.

Polycystic Ovary Disease Symptoms – What to Look out for?

Although the symptoms of PCOS and PCOD are very similar, they come with their fair share of differences too. The PCOD’s full form in medical is different than that of PCOS. Only a proper medical diagnosis can ascertain the patient’s ailment.

However, if you witness symptoms different from normal body functions, it is ideal to seek immediate medical help before it worsens.

Following are some of the symptoms of PCOD to look out for:

Irregular menstrual cycle – this can include conditions like oligomenorrhea (irregular or infrequent menstrual cycles), amenorrhea (absence of menstrual cycles few months), or menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding).

Abnormal hair growth on the body – can happen in offbeat spots on the body, including face, chest, belly, and back.

Excessive acne-prone skin – not just on the face but chest and back too.

Uncontrolled weight gain – happens especially around the abdominal region due to unregulated hormonal balance.

Hyperpigmentation – skin darkening around areas under the breast, underarms, and groin region.

Hair fall issues – losing hair over the normal range of 50-100 per day.

These are the most common and alarming signs that every woman needs to pay close attention to. If you are experiencing any (or most) symptoms, consult a gynecologist to get a proper medical diagnosis for quicker treatment.

What Causes Polycystic Ovary Disease/Disorder (PCOD)?

When it comes to PCOD, the causes correlate to the disturbed production of hormones in the body. Since there is a sudden spike in the androgen levels in the body due to the non-mature eggs in the ovaries, it disrupts the natural release of female hormones like estrogen and progesterone.

Unregulated hormonal balance in the system further contributes to and triggers the PCOD chain.

Some of the most common causes behind PCOD include:

Causes How does it Worsen PCOD?
Excess Insulin Production Insulin resistance in the body is related to the worsening of PCOD in females. Since PCOD is caused by a surplus availability of androgens in the system, the insulin contributes to the pool, further increasing the insulin levels in the bloodstream.
Excess Androgen Production Touted as the “main culprit” in the situation, excessive androgens in the female bloodstream directly dominate and suppress the release of female hormones like estrogen and progesterone. High androgen levels contribute to worsening skin conditions and excessive hair growth on the body.
Inflammation Having chronic low-grade inflammation in the body is tied with the risks of excessive androgen production. This further continues the chain of PCOD.
Genetic Predisposition Although quite rare, genetic traits also play a role in developing PCOD in women.

 

How is PCOD Diagnosed?

Self-diagnosis is the worst that you could do to your body. Until and unless you see a specialist and get the diagnostic tests done, there is no surety of whether you have PCOD, PCOS, or something else that’s left undiagnosed.

Your gynecologist will suggest the following tests to diagnose you for PCOD:

Name of Test Reason to Get Done
Pelvic Examination A woman’s reproductive organs are all located around the pelvic region. A pelvic examination can include an ultrasound or sometimes even an X-ray to determine the presence of any abnormalities in the reproductive organs.
Blood Tests Routine bloodwork for PCOD diagnosis includes hormonal level testing, lipid profile, glucose tolerance tests, HBA1C, etc.
Imaging Ultrasound imaging is a must for the diagnosis of PCOD. This helps to check the size of the ovaries or look for the grade or spread of cysts in the ovaries.

 

Besides these tests, your gynecologist will also ask about your medical history to recommend other tests to rule out any other diseases contributing to the symptoms.

What are the Treatment options for PCOD?

PCOD treatment is subjective and focuses on finding the contributing cause behind the condition. Some women struggle with the condition due to underlying chronic diseases. Other women have a genetic predisposition for the disease. So, the first step of the treatment is to determine the cause.

Besides medications and other medical treatments, managing lifestyle factors is the key PCOD problem solution. Even regulating 5-10% of the body weight can ensure quicker recovery from the symptoms. Here’s a quick breakdown of all the treatment options for PCOD:

Also Read: Metformin for PCOS and PCOD: Uses, Health Benefits, and Side Effects 

Treatment Options What it Includes and How it Helps?
Lifestyle factor changes
  • Weight reduction
  • Dietary changes
  • Leading an active lifestyle
Medications
  • For treating irregular menstrual cycle
  • Ovulation induction
  • To correct infertility
  • Correct hormonal imbalance
Skin treatments Topical treatments for acne, hyperpigmentation
Laparoscopy Involves ovarian drilling to eliminate the androgen-producing tissues and the excessive cyst growth in the ovaries.

 

The best way to cure PCOD is to seek medical help as soon as possible. Instead of treating your symptoms as “not important,” consider them a sign. The quicker you get a diagnosis, the quicker you will be on a treatment to rid yourself of the complications.

Conclusion

If you were wondering, “What is PCOD?” we hope this article answers all the questions. 

PCOD is a lot more common than many people expect or imagine. However, if you notice any of the alarming symptoms, don’t take them for granted. The more you push the PCOD treatment to the backseat, the worse it gets. So, take control of the situation and seek medical advice as quickly as possible. Ideally, sustained changes to one’s lifestyle can effortlessly cure the complications in a record time. 

FAQs

 

Somapika Dutta (B.Sc Physiology, Honours)
Somapikar holds Bachelors Degree in Physiology from University of Culcutta. She has 6+ years of experience writing in different niches, including health, tech and lifestyle. An animal enthusiast and a raging foodie, experiencing life - one day at a time.

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