PCOD (also known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS) is a condition affecting the ovaries that can produce symptoms related to a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, hormones, insulin production, heart, blood vessels and appearance.
Polycystic ovary disease (PCOD) or disease is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age. PCOD is a condition where enlarged cysts are located on the outer edge of each ovary. Up to 25% of the women have multiple fluid-filled cysts in their ovaries, however, many of these women don’t develop PCOD.
When a woman gets affected with polycystic ovary disease, her pituitary gland may discharge high levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and the ovaries may make excess androgens. This disrupts the normal menstrual cycle, and may lead to infertility, excess body hair and acne.
PCOD is the most common hormonal reproductive problem in women of childbearing age. An estimated five to 10 percent of women of childbearing age have PCOD.
Women with PCOD have:
• High levels of male hormones (androgens)
• An irregular or no menstrual cycle
• Many small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) in their ovaries
Causes of Polycystic Ovarian Disease:
The main cause of polycystic ovary disease is still unclear, however, there are some factors which may play a role in the development of PCOD. Women with PCOD frequently have a mother or sister with PCOD. But there is not yet enough evidence to say there is a genetic link to this disorder.Many women with PCOD have a weight problem. So researchers are looking at the relationship between PCOD and the body’s ability to make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy for the body’s use or for storage.
If a woman’s body develops insulin resistance, the ability to use insulin effectively gets damaged, and the pancreas has to secrete more insulin to make glucose available to the cells.Since some women with PCOD make too much insulin, it’s possible that the ovaries react by making too many male hormones, called androgens. This can lead to ovulation problems, excessive hair growth, weight gain and acne.Eating certain food items can trigger an inflammatory response in some predisposed people. In such a scenario, the white blood cells of the woman’s body produce substances that may lead to insulin resistance and cholesterol accumulation.
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Disease:
Depending on the degree of the hormonal imbalance, the symptoms of PCOD may vary in severity. The symptoms are:
Excessive hair growth on the face, around the nipples, and/or around on the lower abdomen
Infrequent menstrual periods, absent menstrual periods, and/or irregular bleeding
Infertility or inability to get pregnant because of not ovulating
Increased growth of hair on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes
Acne, oily skin, dandruff
Weight gain or obesity, usually carrying extra weight around the waist
High blood pressure
Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
Patches of thickened and dark brown or black skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs
Skin tags or tiny excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
Thinning of the hair on the head
Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
Treatment for Polycystic Ovarian Disease:
The course of treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. First of all, blood samples are taken to measure the levels of sex hormones, and the woman may also have to go through ultrasound scanning to check for ovarian cysts. Losing weight may help reduce the symptoms of PCOD. If the woman wants to conceive, infertility can be treated with certain drugs like clomifene. The cysts may also be treated with a type of heat therapy known as diathermy. If the woman doesn’t want to have children, abnormal/irregular menstrual cycle can be treated with a combined contraceptive pill. Anti-diabetic drugs may be prescribed to treat insulin resistance in the woman’s body. These drugs may restore ovulation and regulate periods.
- Birth control pills to regulate menstruation
- Insulin-sensitizing medications
- Ovulation induction to treat infertility
- Androgen-blocking medications
- Topical anti-hair-growth medications
- Other excess hair treatments
- Treatments for hair loss
- Acne treatments
- Removal of other skin problems
- Medicines to treat reproductive or metabolic problems include:
- Combination estrogen and progestin hormones in birth control pills, vaginal rings, or skin patches. These hormones correct irregular menstrual bleeding or absent menstrual cycles. They may also improve your androgen-related acne problems, male-type hair growth, and male-pattern hair loss.
- Synthetic progestin. If you are not able to use the hormone estrogen, talk to your doctor about using progestin shots or pills for part of your cycle. The progestin makes your endometrial lining build up and shed, similar to a menstrual period. This monthly shedding is what prevents uterine cancer.
- Androgen-lowering spironolactone (Aldactone), which is a diuretic. It is often used with estrogen-progestin therapy. This reduces hair loss, acne, and abnormal hair growth on the face and body (hirsutism).
- Metformin (Glucophage). This diabetes medicine is a newer PCOS treatment for controlling insulin, blood sugar levels, and androgen levels.
- Clomiphene (Clomid, Serophene) (fertility medicines) and gonadotropin injections (LH and FSH).