You have probably heard about people having long, painful periods or gaining weight or developing acne due to something they call PCOS or PCOD. The word is everywhere; in magazines, advertisements on hoardings and newspapers, articles in the Sunday supplement of your subscribed daily – everywhere. But as we know, most people tend to ignore things that do not apply to them and the same happens to these medical conditions.
Are PCOD and PCOS the Same?
The answer is no. The terms are often confused for each other and have similar symptoms, but they are distinctly different from each other. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome while PCOD stands for Polycystic Ovarian Disorder.
Every female reproductive system has two ovaries that release an egg into the fallopian tube every month. They also produce female hormones that regulate fertility, menstrual cycle schedule, facial hair growth, etc. When this system Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is considered the more serious of the two while the Disorder is more common.
What’s the Difference?
PCOD is a condition where a woman’s ovaries contain multiple partially mature or completely immature eggs. These eventually develop into cysts. In this condition, the ovaries produce unnaturally high amounts of male hormones, or androgens. When produced in normal amounts, the male sex hormone testosterone combines with female hormones and helps in growth, repair and maintenance of the reproductive tissues, bone mass, etc. However, while produced in excess, they cause changes in the body such as the growth of too much facial hair, balding, acne, deepened voice and decreased breast size.
Common symptoms of PCOD apart from symptoms of higher than normal testosterone levels are weight gain, especially in the abdominal area, irregular periods, male pattern balding and even infertility. This is more common and is sometimes called a variant of a normal ovary.
PCOS, on the other hand, is a metabolic disorder. In this condition, the ovaries produce so much of male hormones that multiple follicular cysts are formed in the woman’s ovary every month. These cysts are fluid-filled sacs which are actually follicles that contain one egg each. These cysts stop the egg from being released, restricting the process of ovulation.
Usually, three things mentioned above are taken into consideration while examining for PCOS: high levels of androgens, cysts in ovaries and irregular periods.
To detect cysts, gynecologic ultrasonography might be required. The doctors will try to find ovarian follicles which are the result of failed ovarian functions. Laparoscopic examinations may find smooth, white coating on the ovary.
Blood tests also may be conducted to check hormone levels and also evaluate your risk of developing other diseases in the heart or diabetes.
PCOS is usually detectable at an early age as girls in their teens begin to display symptoms such as excess weight gain, oligomenorrhoea (irregular periods), menorrhagia (heavy bleeding during menstruation), and increased hair growth.
Causes and Problems
Researches show that both PCOD and PCOS run in families and it is possible that many genes are responsible for it. The risk may be increased due to exposure to certain drugs as well. More than three-fourths of the women suffering from it are overweight or obese, and are resistant to insulin, making them more prone to diabetes. They also have an increased risk of heart problems, stroke, sleep apnea, depression and even endometrial cancer.
While weight gains and hair growth might cause a lot of discomfort and distress, polycystic ovaries are also closely linked to psychiatric conditions in women. Doctors suggest that this could be because their self-image deteriorates and sometimes makes them feel unfeminine. Research says women with PCOS show significantly higher rates of psychological distress than the general population.
A lot of women have PCOS but go undiagnosed. One study found that nearly 70% of the women who suffered from the condition didn’t even know about it.
Fertility is a major concern surrounding these two conditions. People with PCOD don’t have much difficulty with conception as they can still ovulate regularly. With medical assistance, they will be able to get pregnant. However, women with PCOS face bigger challenges in this department. As their ovaries stop producing eggs due to severe hormonal imbalances, they struggle with infertility and also have higher rates of miscarriages.
Even if pregnancy does occur, women with PCOS are more likely to deliver premature babies and are at a higher risk for gestational diabetes.
Many people blame unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle choices for polycystic ovaries, but it isn’t a new condition. Doctors have described the condition as long ago as the 1700s in Europe.
Detecting both PCOD and PCOS early and making changes in lifestyle helps control the damage. Avoiding processed junk food, maintaining a proper diet, regular exercise and meditation have all proven to improve the situation along with pills prescribed by the doctor. Pills usually work to control the hormonal imbalances, thus reducing the effects the imbalance has on the body. Drugs used to treat diabetes such as Metformin are usually employed to better the problems caused by PCOS. Metformin can also help with anxiety caused due to PCOS.
Intake of birth control pills that increase progesterone and estrogen levels in the body regularly can help with maintaining the hormonal balance.
To remove stop hair growth, people often go for the “permanent” solutions such as laser hair removal techniques and electrolysis.
Along with the prescribed drugs, losing weight and keeping healthy eating habits are advised to improve the chances of healthy pregnancy and delivery. Surgery is another option to combat infertility caused by this. They use a method called ovarian drilling where tiny holes are drilled into the ovary so the system can start ovulation again.
There are no specific medications for people with this condition who develop anxiety or depression, the same medicines are prescribed to them like everyone else.
People all over the world are making a shift to organic choices in all aspects of their lives. Similarly, there is a whole range of natural foods that can be incorporated into your everyday lives that have been proven to help with the issues caused due to polycystic ovaries. Easily available foods like pineapple, broccoli and celery are all known to help fight menstrual problems. Most women go for a hot cup of coffee when they’re in need of a hot drink during their cycles to deal with menstrual cramps. However, it does more harm than good. Green tea is the best alternative to this as it soothes the pain, promote the blood flow and also stop the caffeine cravings. These organic solutions have no side effects and are easy and cheap too. Buy best PCOD tea online from Teatox Life especially prepared, for women’s health that could help in curing period problems.
It is estimated that the global prevalence of PCOS ranges from 2.2% to 26%. It varies from country to country. For example, in a few Asian countries, the figures range from 2% to 7% while other countries like China and India have a prevalence of 7.5% and 6.3% respectively. Most studies indicate the prevalence figures in India as ranging from 9.13% to 36%.
These statistics show how common the problem is, yet, the scale of unawareness on the subject is appalling.
A study revealed that only 41% of the women among the subjects were aware of the term Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. 46% of the group that was aware knew about the organ system involved, which is the female reproductive system. Another similar study showed that while nearly 50% have knowledge of the condition, only around 6% had knowledge about its reasons and consequences.
These findings show us how unaware young women are about their reproductive health. Without this kind of awareness about their own body, it is not possible to recognise symptoms and consult a physician when required. It is the need of the hour that these medical problems be taught in detail at school especially in countries like India, where discussing such topics is still considered taboo. Uninformed opinions lead to the ostracisation of women for faults that are not theirs and have no control over.