Effective management of PCOS and PCOD: A journey of women towards hormonal harmony

Reproductive Immunology PCOD and PCOS

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As women pursue success and ambition, they often experience high levels of stress due to their busy lifestyles. They are the jugglers of multiple responsibilities, leaving little time for self-care and neglecting their health. A stressful life, lack of self-care, and proper food pattern lead to an imbalance in the normal functioning of the body and these can cause hormonal imbalances in women. 

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and polycystic ovary disease (PCOD) are two common hormonal conditions that affect the health of women and achieving hormonal balance is essential for overall well-being. Navigating the world of hormonal imbalances as a woman can be a tough journey. However, with the right knowledge and support, achieving hormonal harmony is within reach. 

What are PCOS and PCOD? 

PCOS and PCOD are complex hormonal conditions that have a substantial impact on the health and well-being of women. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there exists a subtle difference between them. PCOS is characterized by enlarged ovaries with small cysts on their outer edges, as well as abnormalities in the metabolism and regulation of androgen and estrogen hormones. On the other hand, PCOD also involves enlarged ovaries, with the production of eggs that are either inadequate or undeveloped, resulting in the formation of cysts. 

In India, more than 1 million cases of PCOS and PCOD are reported in women annually, affecting approximately 1 in 10 women. 

What are the symptoms? 

During a womans reproductive years, a normal ovary typically has a volume of 4-6 ml and a folded structure like that of a walnut. However, if a woman is diagnosed with PCOS or PCOD, her ovaries can become enlarged and bulky, with a volume of more than 10 ml. This can lead to the overproduction of androgens. 

The symptoms may differ among individuals but the two main symptoms of PCOS are irregular menstrual cycles and signs of too much androgen production. Some of the symptoms are listed below: 

  • Heavy bleeding: If a woman has PCOS or PCOD, she may experience heavier periods than normal ones, as the uterine lining is building up for a longer period. 
  • Irregular periods: It is normal to have 10-12 periods in a year that last between 21-40 days. However, women with PCOS or PCOD may have fewer than 10 periods a year, and they might also experience a delay of 2-3 months or have lighter periods.  
  • Headaches: In many women, the imbalance in hormones triggers headaches. 
  • Weight gain: PCOS or PCOD and obesity is said to go together. About 80% of women suffering from PCOS and PCOD are overweight or obese, especially around the belly area. 
  • Infertility: In severe cases of PCOS, there is a possibility of infertility in women. Not ovulating regularly or frequently can result in not being able to conceive but PCOD does not affect fertility as women can still ovulate. 
  • Acne and skin pigmentation: The presence of male hormones leads to oily skin and causes pimples or acne on the chest, face, and upper back. Skin darkening especially around the neck region and pigmentation are also common symptoms. 
  • Facial hair growth (Hirutism): More than 80% of women also suffer from hair growth on their body and face, including the back, face, and belly. Excessive hair growth is called hirsutism. 
  • Hair thinning or baldness: The scalp is experiencing excessive hair loss and thinning, resulting in baldness. 
  • Mood swings: PCOS and PCOD can cause hormonal imbalances that lead to mood swings, irritability, behavioural changes, and depression in women. 


What causes PCOS and PCOD? 

The exact cause of PCOS or PCOD has not yet been identified. However, certain factors are associated with the condition. These include the patients family history (which may be genetic), changes in lifestyle, lack of regular exercise, alterations in dietary habits, loss of work-life balance, exposure to environmental pollution, exposure to mobile phone radiations, and stress, which is considered the most significant factor. 

What are the risks of PCOD and PCOS? 

The risk associated with PCOS is significantly higher than PCOD. Some of the risks are: 

  • Infertility 
  • Unhealthy pregnancy 
  • Diabetes 
  • Endometrial cancer 
  • Metabolic syndrome 
  • Depression  
  • Sleep apnea 
  • Obesity 

How can we treat and manage PCOS and PCOD? 

There are varying opinions regarding the management and treatment of PCOS and PCOD. Both can be managed with medications like oral contraceptives. Lifestyle changes and hormone therapy can also help. The lifestyle changes are listed below: 

  •  Maintaining a healthy weight by preventing obesity and avoiding being overweight through weight management. 
  •  Modifying the diet by embracing a low-carbohydrate meal plan. 
  • Regular physical activity or regular exercise.  
  •  Managing a stress-free lifestyle.  
  • Avoid junk foods and processed food. 
  •  Reducing the intake of alcoholic beverages. 
  •  Checking the vitamin D levels regularly. 

Achieving hormonal balance for women with PCOS and PCOD can be a challenging journey that requires a comprehensive approach involving medical guidance, lifestyle adjustments, and emotional support. By providing women with knowledge and understanding, we can help them develop resilience and strength to navigate this path toward better hormonal health.