“Do PCOD and PCOS have the same symptoms?” Many women often confuse between the two, commonly using the terms interchangeably, particularly when attempting to understand the relationship between PCOS, PCOD, and pregnancy. Despite similarities such as being related to the ovaries and causing hormonal disturbances, both conditions are distinct. Let’s take a closer look at these two conditions and what distinguishes them.
PCOD and PCOS are medical conditions that affect a woman’s ovaries and cause hormonal disturbances. 1 in every 10 women in the world are suffering from them; it is so prevalent that at least one female friend you have must be going through this condition, yet it is not discussed much. Due to the lack of awareness surrounding PCOD and PCOS, many believe both terms to be interchangeable. Although both health problems arise from an imbalance in the hormonal system and involve the human ovaries, they are distinct in several ways. For starters, PCOD is an acronym for Polycystic Ovarian Disease, while PCOS is an acronym for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
What are PolyCystic Ovarian Disease & PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome?
PolyCystic Ovarian Disease
Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD)is a female medical condition in which the ovary’s partially mature or non-mature eggs eventually develop cysts. The actual cause of PCOD is still unknown but hormonal imbalance, unhealthy lifestyle, and stress are the major contributing factors of this illness. As a result, the ovaries become bigger than normal and begin secreting huge amounts of Androgen (or male) hormone. In PCOD, the menstrual cycle is regular; however, females may suffer delayed periods. It is a common issue when a woman cannot conceive, despite her best efforts.
Primary Symptoms of PCOD
- Obesity and Weight Gain in the Abdominal Area
- Irregular periods
- Bleeding profusely during periods
- Excessive hair growth on face and body
PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic condition in which the ovaries generate an excessive quantity of androgen. Every month, hundreds of ovarian cysts (liquid-filled sacs) emerge in the body because of this. The cysts are usually big and contain undeveloped eggs and different ovarian fluids. PCOS affects women’s menstrual cycles, making them harder to manage. Periods could be irregular or unreliable, menstruation could be postponed, or at times, they don’t get periods at all. This is a more serious condition than PCOD. The stopping of egg’s release from the ovaries, caused by the cyst growth at a high pace, causes anovulation. This condition is often diagnosed at a young age.
Primary Symptoms of PCOS
- Inconsistent Menstrual Cycle
- Amenorrhea (No Periods at all)
- Hair Loss/Bald Patches
- Axillary Hair
- Facial Hair in Excessive Amounts
- Excessive Body Odor
- Sleep Deprivation
- Mood Swings
- Anxiety or depression
Causes of PCOD and PCOS
- Excess male hormones: The ovaries’ overproduction of male hormones causes irregular periods and reduced fertility. It also causes hirsutism (excessive body hair growth) and acne.
- Heredity: PCOD in women can also be caused by hereditary factors. According to studies, mothers potentially pass on the PCOD to their daughters.
- Excess of Insulin: Insulin is a hormone generated by the pancreas to aid the body’s utilization of sugar from food for energy. Insulin regulates blood sugar levels in the human body in this way. The blood sugar level rises as human cells grow resistant to the action of insulin. As a result, to manage the rise in blood sugar levels, the body creates an excessive quantity of insulin, which in turn results in an increase in the synthesis of androgens (male hormones which are usually very less in females). Increased androgen production makes it more difficult for eggs to develop and become fertile.
- Acne: Male hormones can cause acne or pimples on the face, chest, and upper back by making the skin more greasy.
- Darkening of the skin: Dark patches of skin can appear in body folds such as the neck, groin, and genital areas, as well as beneath the breasts.
- Abnormal hair growth on the face and body.
- Irregular menstrual cycles: Periods may come late or even skip because of a lack of ovulation or an underdeveloped egg. According to studies, women with PCOD had fewer than eight periods per year.
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Weight gain: According to research, up to 80% of women with PCOD are overweight.
- Hair loss: Hair loss occurs when the hair on the scalp thins and falls off.
- Hormonal fluctuations: In certain women, hormonal fluctuations might cause headaches.
- Skin tags: Skin tags are a tiny, soft, skin-colored growth on the skin that resembles a mole but is not black in appearance.
- Period discomfort: Women with PCOD have increased pain throughout their menstrual cycles.
Problems with Pregnancy
PCOD disrupts a woman’s natural menstrual cycle, making it harder for her to become pregnant. Between 70 and 80 percent of women with PCOD have difficulty conceiving. Pregnancy risks such as miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, gestational diabetes, premature birth, incompetent cervix, placental abruption, preeclampsia, and eclampsia can all be increased by PCOD issues.
- Diagnosis of PCOD can be determined through Blood tests and ultrasound.
- PCOD and Weight Loss: Even a minor loss of 5 to 10% of body weight can help regulate the menstrual cycle and ease PCOD symptoms.
- PCOD Diet: Maintaining normal blood sugar levels requires a well-balanced diet.
- A low glycemic index (low-GI) diet, which receives most carbs from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, has been reported to help regulate the menstrual cycle better, in studies evaluating diets for PCOD.
- PCOD and Exercise: According to a few studies, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three times a week can help women with PCOD lose weight. Exercise-induced weight loss enhances ovulation and insulin levels.
Prevention is the best option
Consult a doctor as soon as you notice any abnormality in your menstrual cycle. Look out for symptoms and get your family history thoroughly checked. For PCOD-related reproductive issues that do not respond to medication, surgery termed Laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) may be a possibility. This procedure isn’t common, but it’s a possibility for women who haven’t ovulated even after reducing weight and using reproductive medications.
Because of all the stigma around it, PCOD remains untreated, most often undiagnosed. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!