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What is PCOD/PCOS and how to detect it?

‘What is PCOD/PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD) is a hormonal disorder in women which ultimately results in irregular menstrual cycle and eventually many problems related to pregnancy. PCOD or PCOS is a very common disease among women and 1 out of 10 women have symptoms of PCOD or PCOS. PCOD or PCOS has a direct impact on the health system of women which is controlled by five reproductive hormones- progesterone, estrogens, Follicle Stimulating hormone, Gonadotropin releasing hormones and Luteinizing hormones. The interplay of these hormones is responsible for regular menstruation which is in turn related to many other factors that affect health of women. In PCOD or PCOS, there is an imbalance of these hormones and the ovaries which release both the female sex hormones and a tiny amount of male sex hormones (androgen) starts making more male sex hormones, androgen, that is required for the body.

Now, why do your ovaries produce more androgens? That is a deeper question that also indicates that your body has become resistant to insulin. Insulin is another hormone that is secreted by pancreas to break down the glucose in your blood. If you develop insulin resistance, you suffer from high sugar levels. That means the amount of insulin secreted from the pancreas is not enough to break the glucose in your blood and thus the body secrets more insulin than normal. And excessive amount of insulin triggers the ovaries to forcing it to produce more male sex hormones or androgens.

In PCOD or PCOS, eggs are unable to mature because the ovary is now secreting more androgens than the female sex hormones. This leads to the formation of small cysts in the ovaries, hence the name Polycystic Ovary Disease or syndrome. These cysts are nothing but small sacs filled with fluid. These cysts are follicles which contain the eggs that were never able to mature enough to trigger ovulation.

Should you be worried about it? Not really. Should you start treatment? Absolutely. Even though PCOD or PCOS cannot be cured, it can definitely be controlled by adopting a healthier lifestyle and shifting to medicines that help you balance your hormones. Many women who have taken the necessary steps earlier have been able to conceive naturally and have regular periods.

What are the symptoms of PCOD/PCOS?

There are various obvious symptoms that women with PCOD or PCOS have. They are:

  1. Weight gain and trouble losing weight: since your body is suffering from an imbalance in hormones, your weight cannot be managed and maintained because the imbalance has an obvious impact on the metabolism rate. To avoid this, a healthy and strict diet should be maintained as much as possible which will not only help you in controlling you PCOD but also improve your health and skin problems in general.
  2. Obesity: some people do not reach the stage where they become obese that is they have their BMI over 30 or have their waist circumference more than 35. But most of the women suffer from obesity and this is when your condition has become as severe as possible. This also means that you will most likely suffer from high blood pressure, heart related diseases and diabetes.
  3. Excessive hair growth: you might also have extra hair growing on your face and body and you can feel that your hair is growing out thicker and darker than ever. Excess growth may be most visible on chest, belly and back.  
  4. Hair loss: thinning of hair might also indicate that you have PCOD/PCOS. It might not be severe in some cases but some may experience baldness.
  5. Irregular periods: this is also the easiest way to detect that you have PCOD/PCOS. Women suffering from PCOD or PCOS have not so frequent periods and can also bleed for less than 9 periods in a year. Some of the women do not bleed at all throughout the year. However, if you experience having two or more periods in a single month or have severe bleeding problems, these are also the symptoms of PCOD/PCOS.
  6. Acne: since the ovaries of women suffering from PCOD/PCOS produce more androgen that is the male sex hormones, that makes the skin oily and more prone to acne. You might have severe acne right from the time of puberty when you got your periods for the first time. It is not merely a skin problem which can be dealt with some products but is a symptom of a deeper issue lying in your ovaries.

What are the causes of PCOD/PCOS?

While the causes of PCOD/PCOS have not been detected clearly by the doctors yet, some of the reasons that the doctors have given are also what I have already mentioned above like Insulin Resistance, and obesity. Genetics also has a major role in it and inflammation also leads to PCOD/PCOS.

  1. Genes: most of the times, it is quite likely that the women get the condition from their family lines. This is very tough to detect because sometimes the elders do not show clear and severe symptoms but you still inherit it. Also, not one but many genes contribute to the condition.
  2. Insulin resistance: Insulin resistance, as I have already talked before, is one of the causes that more androgens are produced in your body which is leading to this condition. 70% of the women with PCOD/PCOS suffer from insulin resistance. This also increases your risk for diabetes, heart related diseases.
  3. Obesity: most women have gained a lot of unhealthy weight over a short span of time and have a lot of trouble losing it. Obesity is one of the leading causes of PCOD/PCOS in women. Women that have been able to lose at least 5% of their weight have noticed improvements in their health and it also helps in getting regular periods.
  4. Inflammation: increased inflammation in the body is another cause that women usually ignore. And if you are overweight, it gets coupled with the inflammation and worsens your situation. Studies have also linked high androgen levels with inflammation.

The main idea:

The bottom line is that PCOD/PCOS is a somewhat permanent condition of hormonal disorder in women which results in irregular periods which would later cause infertility related problems. Women with PCOD/PCOS have less than 9 periods in a year in their childbearing age. The condition cannot be completely cured but it can be controlled if treated consistently. The treatment may take a long time but combined with a healthy lifestyle, regular exercising, proper diet and keeping your mental health in check will help dramatically. Women who are able to control it can have a close to normal pregnancy and no problems of infertility. It is wise to consult a doctor as soon as you detect that something is wrong with your menstrual cycle. Sometimes, it is perfectly normal to miss your periods due to stress and other psychological issues but if you miss it more frequently, it is a clear sign that your eggs are not maturing at the rate they should and you have developed cysts in your ovaries, PCOD/PCOS.

Medication required in PCOD/PCOS should be taken strictly under the supervision of your gynaecologist. It can lead to more severe hormonal disorder if taken otherwise. Stressing about your condition can add on to your depression or other psychological conditions that you may have as a result of PCOD/PCOS.

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