PCOD: Decoding The Cause, Symptoms Behind This Disorder

Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) is frequently mistaken for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), but these are different conditions. According to a UNICEF article, PCOD is more common in women, affecting about one-third of menstruating women worldwide. Now, let's delve into what PCOD is and what leads to it, to gain a comprehensive understanding.

What Is PCOD? 

PCOD is a medical condition where a woman's ovaries produce immature eggs during the reproductive years, turning them into cysts over time. These cysts swell the ovaries and release too many male hormones (androgen), leading to infertility problems,  irregular periods, gaining weight, and other health issues.

What Causes PCOD? 

While the exact cause of PCOD is not well-defined, it is often linked to factors such as an unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, stress, elevated androgen levels, pollution, medications affecting hormones, and in certain instances, it is hereditary and runs in families.

Symptoms Of POCD

PCOD mainly impacts the ovaries, and it comes with various signs and symptoms. These include delayed or irregular menstrual periods, heavy bleeding, excess facial hair, acne, obesity, sleep issues, skin darkening or pigmentation around the neck, difficulty in getting pregnant, feelings of depression, and hair loss.

How Is PCOD Diagnosed? 

If you have been dealing with the above-mentioned symptoms for a while, it's time to head to your gynaecologist and get some tests done. As per Dr. Rabeela P V, Specialist Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aster Hospital Muhaisnah, "PCOD is diagnosed through a combination of medical history, physical exams, and tests."

Dr. Rabeela P V, Aster Hospital Muhaisnah, breaks down the diagnoses in three steps: 

- Blood Tests: Hormone levels, including testosterone, luteinising hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and insulin levels, are checked.

- Ultrasound: Imaging tests like transvaginal ultrasound help visualise the ovaries for cysts or follicles.

- Other Tests: Sometimes, additional tests like a glucose tolerance test or lipid profile might be recommended to assess associated conditions like insulin resistance or lipid abnormalities.

Treatment For PCOD 

There's no permanent cure for this condition; however, PCOD treatment involves both lifestyle changes as well as medications. Your lifestyle plays a huge role in managing PCOD, and Dr. Rabeela P V, Aster Hospital Muhaisnah, recommends these four things that will help you manage PCOD effectively. 

•Dietary Modifications: A balanced diet with a focus on whole foods, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats can help regulate insulin levels and manage weight, which is often a concern with PCOD.

Commenting on the treatment aspect, Sophie Smith, Founder and CEO of Nabta Health, adds, "There are specific dietary recommendations for individuals with PCOD to help manage symptoms, such as prioritising whole foods, fruit, vegetables, and lean protein while limiting processed foods and sugary drinks." 

•Regular Exercise: Physical activity plays a crucial role in managing PCOD symptoms. It helps improve insulin sensitivity, regulates hormones, and assists in weight management. A mix of cardio exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises is recommended.

As per Sophie Smith of Nabta Health, one should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, around 30 minutes of walking, 5 days per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.

•Stress Management: Stress can exacerbate PCOD symptoms. Techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or any stress-reduction methods can be beneficial.

•Adequate Sleep: Quality sleep is essential for hormone regulation and overall well-being. Establishing a consistent sleep routine can help.

PCOD And Mental Health 

When people talk about PCOD, they often relate it to physical health issues; however, PCOD does impact mental health. "PCOD can impact mental health due to hormonal imbalances, irregular periods, infertility concerns, and body image issues," says Dr. Rabeela P V, Aster Hospital Muhaisnah. 

Key strategies To Handle Emotional Well-Being Include: 

- Support Network: Connecting with others who understand the condition can provide valuable support.

- Therapy Or Counselling: Seeking professional help can assist in managing stress, anxiety, or depression associated with PCOD.

- Self-Care: Engaging in activities that promote relaxation and self-care, such as hobbies, reading, or mindfulness practices, can be beneficial.

PCOD Problem In The Future 

Women dealing with PCOD should regularly keep an eye on their health to avoid possible complications down the road. If not addressed, PCOD can lead to issues such as Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and various mental health concerns resulting from hormonal imbalances. Therefore, it's crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle, eat well, stay active, and prioritise mental health and overall well-being.

PCOD Vs PCOS - Difference

- PCOD is a common disorder, but in the case of PCOS, it is a severe medical condition affecting 0.2% to 2.5% of women globally.

- In PCOD, ovaries generate immature or partially mature eggs, while in PCOS, a more severe form of PCOD, a metabolic disorder, can result in anovulation where ovaries cease to release eggs.

Adding to this, Sophie Smith of Nabta Health, says, "The first thing to note is that PCOD, although similar in terms of characteristics and underlying factors to PCOS is a different disease with different diagnostic criteria. PCOD is diagnosed using an ultrasound showing multiple small follicles on the ovaries, but is not necessarily accompanied by other symptoms or hormonal imbalances. PCOS requires confirmation of at least two of the following symptoms: irregular periods or ovulation, abnormal androgen levels, and/or polycystic ovaries on ultrasound." 

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