The fear of developing PCOS haunts most women. Either you have already fallen a victim to it or you’re worried that you may soon be diagnosed with the problem since it has become a more and more common due to changes in lifestyles and environmental factors.
You may have heard of both the acronyms PCOD and PCOS and tend to use it interchangeably. However it is important that you understand the difference between these two conditions. PCOD stands for Polycystic Ovarian Disease and PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. They are a bit different from each other as we explained below in greater detail.
How is PCOD different from PCOS?
Both PCOD and PCOS are conditions related to the ovaries. PCOD or Polycystic Ovarian Disease is a condition where a hormonal imbalance leads to the pooling of matured eggs in the ovaries instead of being discharged. This leads to the formation of cysts which may further give rise to more cysts and so on and so forth, in a ceaseless vicious cycle. The symptoms of PCOD include irregular periods, weight gain around the abdomen, hair loss or balding patterns that resemble that of a male and even complications with pregnancy in certain cases.
After having understood the difference between the two, you might ask if the level of risks for both conditions are the same. Well, actually PCOS tends to pose more risks than PCOD. PCOD is also more common than PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is an endocrine system disorder where the ovaries produce higher levels of the male sex hormone androgen than normal. As a result, it disrupts the development and release of eggs. These undischarged eggs develop into sac-like structures within the ovary, filed with liquid. They tend to enlarge over time. Some of the symptoms include acne, irregular periods, weight gain, infertility and thinning of hair.
PCOS with the latter affecting only about 15% women roughly in child-bearing age. Neither PCOD nor PCOS can be completely cured but taking prescription medication can help with bringing your menstrual cycles and hormone levels back on track or to help you ovulate more easily and get pregnant.
Once diagnosed with PCOS, you are also become prone to other diseases like diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and endometrial cancer (also known as uterine cancer) and, most commonly, to pregnancy complications. While getting pregnant with PCOD is still possible, the complications are heightened if you are victim to PCOS. If you’re diagnosed early, it is easier to get things under control although a complete cure is not possible. PCOS is often detected much more easily as compared to PCOD considering the symptoms start showing earlier. PCOD is typically detected much later in life.
What are the causes?
While the exact cause of PCOD/PCOS is unknown, it is believed to be one of the following:
- Insulin resistance. Being resistant to insulin, i.e., when your body cannot use the insulin properly, thus resulting an increase in insulin levels in the blood, you are likely to become prone to PCOD.
- Obesity. Being overweight or obese makes you more susceptible to PCOD/PCOS. Hence it is important that you eat healthy and keep your weight in check.
- Genes can be yet another reason for you to develop PCOD/PCOS. If you have a family history of PCOD or PCOS, chances are you too may be diagnosed with the same.
- One of the major causes of PCOD is the excessive production of androgens in the body. While the body needs both male and female hormones to function properly, an increased level of androgen production can be harmful.
- An increased level of inflammation is another cause. Inflammation generally refers to the defensive mechanism of the body to cope with something. However, at times, it starts reacting in a way that can cause harm to the body’s own tissues and cells.
Studies have shown that PCOD/PCOS has been on the rise lately and will continue to do so over time. Women all around the world will be at a risk of developing PCOD/PCOS. It is believed that genetic mutations, lifestyle and environmental changes make you more susceptible to this condition. Although you cannot entirely avoid getting PCOD or PCOS, you can lower the risks to some extent.
How can you prevent PCOD?
As has already been mentioned, PCOD or PCOS cannot be completely avoided but following certain lifestyle tips can make you less prone to developing PCOD/PCOS. They are as follows:
- Maintain a healthy weight: You must keep your weight in check. When you maintain a healthy weight or shed a few kilos, you are reducing your insulin resistance, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart diseases. Overall, this reduces your chances of developing PCOD.
- Follow a healthy diet: It is important that you follow a diet that is healthy and not devoid of important nutrients. When your diet is deficient of important nutrients such as Iron, Vitamin B, Magnesium, Zinc, you become prone to other diseases like insulin resistance, diabetes etc which in turn can make you susceptible to PCOS. Hence, watch what you are eating.
- Exercise regularly: Besides maintaining a healthy diet, you must also exercise regularly. It helps you remain active while also keeping your blood glucose level and insulin resistance in check as well as your weight, thus helping you build resistance against PCOD.
- Avoid stress: Stress is one of the major factors that lead to a number of serious health problems and PCOS is no different. Stress can affect your overall wellbeing, hence it must be avoided as much as possible or managed through techniques such as meditation or yoga.
It is important that you get yourself checked for PCOS/PCOD from time to time. Just because you haven’t yet been diagnosed with it does not mean that it cannot develop in the future. It can develop at any time and, hence, you must visit your gynecologist periodically and get yourself checked for PCOS. The earlier you are diagnosed with it, the easier it will be to keep things under control and reduce risks of future complications.