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PCOD – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

6 January 2022

PCOD is a medical condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44). Women with PCOD produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance causes their body to skip menstrual periods and makes it harder for them to get pregnant. In women suffering from PCOD, the ovaries release eggs prematurely which turn into cysts over time causing multiple cysts in their ovary. PCOD is a group of symptoms that affects the ovaries and ovulation. Its three main features are:

  • Cysts in the ovaries
  • High levels of male hormones
  • Irregular menstrual cycles, pelvic exams, blood tests, and ultrasounds can confirm the diagnosis

What causes PCOD?

Though the exact causes of PCOD are still unknown, Genes, insulin resistance, and inflammation have all been linked to excess androgen production.

  • Genetics: Studies show that PCOD runs in families. It’s likely that many genes contribute to the condition.
  • Insulin resistance: Up to 70 percent of women with PCOD have insulin resistance, meaning that their cells can’t use insulin properly. If cells acquire resistance against using insulin, then the sugar level will go up. As a result, our body will produce more insulin.
  • Low-grade Inflammation: Women suffering from PCOD have low-grade inflammation that results in stimulation of the polycystic ovaries. This occurs because of unhealthy lifestyle habits, consuming junk food, and being overweight.

What are the symptoms of PCOD?

Hormone imbalances can affect a woman’s health in many ways, symptoms of PCOD may include:

  • Irregularity in Periods: PCOD leads to irregular, scanty bleed, intermenstrual spotting, or prolonged menstrual cycles. You can have a complete stoppage of menstruation also.
  • Excess Growth: Androgen surplus in the body can result in drastic body changes such as hirsutism or a condition with excess facial and body hair. The surplus can also lead to acne and male pattern baldness.
  • Ovarian Malfunction: Due to the excess of immature eggs around the ovary wall, the ovaries get enlarged and might fail to function. o Infertility- PCOD can make it harder to get pregnant and increase your risk for pregnancy complications, miscarriage, and premature birth. PCOS can increase the risk of infertility, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea, endometrial cancer, and depression. PCOS can contribute to long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

How to treat PCOD?

PCOD treatment starts with lifestyle changes like diet and exercise and they often work well.

  • Change your Diet: Include food with complex carbs containing fibre and other nutrients while eliminating carbohydrates and high-sugar content. It will help in keeping the blood sugar level low. Avoid bread, rice, cookies, pasta, chips, and others. Instead go for whole grains, whole-wheat bread, fruits, vegetables, brown rice, and other nutrient-rich food.
  • Exercising: Exercising daily can help maintain the insulin level in the body and control your weight. Weight loss can treat PCOS symptoms and improve the odds of getting pregnant. Diet and aerobic exercise are two effective ways to lose weight. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight if you’re overweight can help improve your symptoms.
  • Regular Check-ups: Regular medical check-ups can help to control PCOD. Doctors can prescribe a range of pills to control the insulin level, blood sugar, and other hormonal disturbances to help bring back a regular menstrual cycle and improve fertility. Medications are an option if lifestyle changes don’t work.

Dr. Prabha Agrawal

Sr. Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecologist, Laparoscopic Surgeon
MBBS, MD, FMAS, FICOG
CARE Hospitals, HITEC City

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