What is PCOD - PCOD vs PCOS Causes Symptoms

What is PCOD? PCOD vs PCOS, Causes Symptoms and Treatment

Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) is a common endocrine disorder that affects the function of a woman's ovaries. It's categorized by the presence of multiple small cysts on the ovaries and a range of symptoms stemming from hormonal imbalances.

What is PCOD Problem

In simple words, PCOD is a condition where the ovaries produce an abnormal number of androgens, which are male hormones that are typically present in women in small amounts. This hormonal imbalance leads to the formation of small, fluid-filled sacs, or cysts, in the ovaries.

It is one of the most common hormonal disorders in women of reproductive age and as per the National Library of Medicine, it affects approximately 5-15% of women globally, though some estimates suggest it could be higher due to underreporting and misdiagnosis.

Causes of PCOD in women

The exact cause of Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) remains unknown, but several factors that may cause PCOD in women. The common causes are:

  1. High Levels of Male Hormones: Women with PCOD often have elevated levels of androgens (male hormones). These hormones are produced in the ovaries and can interfere with the development and release of eggs during ovulation. High androgen levels are the reason for many PCOD symptoms, such as acne, hirsutism (excess hair growth), and irregular menstrual cycles.
  2. Family History: PCOD often runs in families, suggesting a genetic link. If your mother or sister has PCOD, you might have a higher chance of developing it too. Several genes could play a role in passing down PCOD.
  3. High Insulin Levels: Many women with PCOD have insulin resistance, meaning their cells don't respond well to insulin. As a result, the body makes more insulin, which can boost male hormone levels in the ovaries. This can also lead to weight gain, worsening PCOD symptoms.

Let’s explore the common symptoms of PCOD.

What is PCOD - Causes and Symptoms

Symptoms of PCOD

Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) has many symptoms, which can be different for each woman. Common signs include:

  1. Irregular Menstrual Cycles: Women with PCOD may have irregular periods. This can show as longer-than-usual cycles, less than eight periods per year, or even menstrual absence (amenorrhea). These anomalies are caused by infrequent or missing ovulation, which disturbs the natural menstrual cycle. For some, this may imply heavy and protracted periods, but others may experience very mild or missed periods.
  2. Excess Hair Growth (Hirsutism): Increased amounts of male hormones, also known as androgens, can induce excessive hair growth in places normally associated with masculine patterns, such as the face, chest, back, and belly. This condition, called hirsutism, affects up to 70% of women with PCOD. The hair is frequently coarse and black, which can cause anxiety and lower self-esteem.
  3. Acne and Oily Skin: Hormonal imbalances can cause persistent acne, especially on the face, chest, and upper back. The skin may also be oilier than usual due to excess sebum production. This extra oil can block pores and aggravate acne, making it more difficult to treat with traditional skincare methods.
  4. Weight Gain: Many women with PCOD have difficulties maintaining a healthy weight and tend to gain weight, particularly around the abdomen. This central obesity is associated with insulin resistance, a typical characteristic of PCOD. Even moderate amounts of weight gain can exacerbate PCOD symptoms and raise the chance of acquiring related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes.
  5. Thinning Hair: PCOD can cause hair on the scalp to thin and fall out, resulting in female pattern baldness. This thinning usually develops in the crown and frontal portions of the scalp. Hair loss might be slow and not immediately obvious, but it can eventually lead to severe hair thinning and emotional suffering.
  6. Darkening of the Skin: Some women develop black patches of skin, especially in the creases of the neck, groin, and breasts. This disorder, known as acanthosis nigricans, is related with insulin resistance and elevated insulin levels. The skin in certain areas becomes silky and may appear thicker.
  7. Skin Tags: Skin tags, or small, extra skin growths, are commonly detected in the armpits or neck area of women with PCOD. These benign growths are not hazardous, although they might look unsightly. They are frequently related with insulin resistance and might grow in quantity with time.
  8. Fertility Problems: PCOD problem is a prevalent cause of infertility because it prevents the ovaries from consistently producing eggs. The hormonal abnormalities disrupt the ovulation process, making it difficult to conceive. Women with PCOD may require medical help to become pregnant, such as fertility treatments or ovulation-stimulating drugs.

Impact of PCOD on Women’s health

Women with PCOD often experience irregular menstrual cycles. This can result in fewer periods to no periods at all. This happens because of the lack of ovulation, which disrupts the normal menstrual cycle. PCOD can also affect ovulation, which may also lead to difficulties in conceiving. As per World Health Organisation’s website, PCOD is a leading cause of infertility.

Research shows that women with PCOD are at an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity. This metabolic aspect of PCOD also increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

PCOD vs PCOS comparison

What is PCOD vs. PCOS

Let's clear up the confusion between PCOD and PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). They sound similar but have some key differences.

PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) occurs when the ovaries discharge a large number of immature or partially mature eggs, which develop into cysts over time. This causes the ovaries to expand, resulting in hormonal abnormalities.

Common symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, bloating, and, in some cases, acne and hair loss. It is rather common and can be treated with a healthy lifestyle and drugs. Most women with PCOD problems can carry normal pregnancies.

In contrast, PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a more severe metabolic disease. It causes major hormonal imbalances that can damage the entire body, not just the ovaries.

PCOS symptoms include irregular periods, excessive hair growth, severe acne, weight gain, and trouble becoming pregnant. If not treated appropriately, PCOS can cause major health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and infertility. Lifestyle adjustments, medicines, and, on occasion, hormone therapy are all used to treat the condition.

In brief, while both disorders impact the ovaries and hormones, PCOS is more severe and has far-reaching health consequences than PCOD. Hence, PCOS treatment becomes much more important.

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Lifestyle changes and treatment of PCOD Problems

PCOD treatment is mainly focused on symptom management and correcting underlying hormonal imbalances. Regular exercise and a well-balanced diet are frequently recommended as the first line of PCOD treatment.

Menstrual cycle regulation, testosterone reduction, and insulin sensitivity can all be treated with medication. In some situations, fertility medicines may be prescribed to help with ovulation and conception.

Here are key takeaways:

  • Lifestyle modifications: Exercise, balanced diet.
  • Medications: Hormonal contraceptives, anti-androgen medicines, insulin-sensitizers.
  • Fertility Treatments: Ovulation induction and assisted reproductive technology.

While PCOD can be difficult to manage, there are effective treatment options available.

How can women cure PCOD naturally?

Women seeking natural remedies for PCOD condition can explore various options often found in Indian kitchen.

  1. Fenugreek: Fenugreek is known for its ability to regulate menstrual cycles and improve insulin sensitivity. It can be consumed as seeds or added to dishes as a spice.
  2. Cinnamon: With its anti-inflammatory properties, cinnamon may help in managing insulin resistance and reducing blood sugar levels. Sprinkling cinnamon powder on food or adding it into herbal teas can be very beneficial in controling the blood sugar levels.
  3. Turmeric: This spice is known for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, may help improve the symptoms of PCOD by reducing inflammation and insulin resistance. You can have turmeric milk, add turmeric to curries, soups, or beverages to reap its health benefits.
  4. Ginger: Ginger can be beneficial for women with PCOD because of its digestive and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger tea or adding fresh ginger to meals can aid in digestion, reduce inflammation reducing the chances of feeling bloated, commonly associated with PCOD.
  5. Tulsi (Basil): Tulsi can help the body adapt to stress and regulate hormone levels. Drinking Tulsi tea or adding fresh Tulsi leaves to dishes can aid in easing PCOD symptoms.

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When to visit doctor in PCOD?

It is always suggested that you see your gynaecologist if you notice any changes or concerns related to irregular menstrual cycles, unusual vaginal discharge, pelvic pain, or discomfort during intercourse.

If you are facing difficulty getting pregnant or have concerns about contraception, it's a good idea to schedule a visit. Your gynaecologist can provide guidance, perform necessary tests, and address any questions related to PCOD condition.


We hope that the information we've shared has provided significant insights and support to anyone dealing with PCOD. As you continue your journey, we recommend that you read other blogs in our website that provide other viewpoints and insights into PCOD and related subjects.

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