Polycystic Ovarian Disease

What is PCOD? Know more about its causes, symptoms & various treatment options

Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. In PCOD, the patients have multiple small cysts in their ovaries. Anovulation results in irregular menstruation, amenorrhea and ovulation related infertility. The hormonal imbalance causes acne and hirsuitism. In PCOD, the ovary enlarges and produces excessive amounts of androgen and estrogenic hormones. This excess in hormone levels coupled with absence of ovulation can cause infertility. Other commonly used names for PCOD are Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Stein-Leventhal syndrome.

What are the Causes of Polycystic Ovarian Diseases?

Factors that cause polycystic ovarian disease is not completely understood. However, it is believed that causes of PCOD are as follows:
  • Hereditary component does have significance and PCOD is often passed on from mother to daughter.
  • When the state of anovulation persists for a long period of time characteristics of polycystic ovary emerges. Women with polycystic ovaries persistently have high levels of estrogen and androgens which if left untreated leads to PCOD.
  • Obesity can also cause PCOD because fatty tissues are active hormonally and they produce estrogen which disrupts ovulation.
  • Excessive androgens produced by overactive adrenal glands can cause PCOD.
What are the Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Diseases?

Symptoms of PCOD usually are very mild at first. However the most common symptoms include:
  • Acne
  • Weight gain, obesity and trouble shedding the kilos
  • Excessive hair growth on face and body. Women often get darker and thicker facial hair and hair on the chest, back and stomach
  • Hair loss on the scalp
  • Irregular periods. Women with PCOD usually have lesser than nine menstruation in a year. Some women have no period whereas others may experience heavy bleeding
  • Infertility and trouble getting pregnant
  • Depression
What are the Treatment Options for Polycystic Ovarian Disease in India?

Treatment for PCOD vary from women to women. However, PCOD can be treated through:
  • Lifestyle Changes
Making certain lifestyle changes can help in treating PCOD. It can reduce unpleasant symptoms and help prevent long term health problems. It is advised that regular exercise routines be followed. Eating healthy food that includes lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, lean meat and beans will ensure overall health. To control PCOD, limit food that are high in saturated fats like red meat, cheese and fried foods. Further, women affected with PCOD can benefit from losing weight. Even losing approximately 5 kg can help in getting their hormones balanced and regulate their menstruation cycle. Also, it is recommended to quit smoking. This is because women who smoke have higher androgen levels that can lead to PCOD symptoms.
  • Medication & Surgery
Depending on the PCOD condition, the doctor may prescribe birth control pills to reduce symptoms. Metformin may be prescribed by the doctor to regulate menstruation cycles and fertility medicines may be administered if the patient is having trouble getting pregnant. 

If fertility medications fail to work, a simple surgical procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) may be recommended. This involves using heat or a laser to destroy the tissue in the ovaries that produces androgens such as testosterone.

It is important that women suffering from PCOD follow up with their doctor to make sure that their treatment is working and to make adjustments in treatment method if needed. Regular tests to check diabetes, high blood pressure and other possible problems is also recommended.   

Remember that dealing with PCOD can be difficult. If the patient is feeling depressed, it is advised that they talk to their doctor.

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