Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOS/PCOD) is an endocrinal disorder that has become increasingly prevalent across the world. It is estimated to affect well over a hundred million women worldwide and is the most common cause of female infertility. Despite the high prevalence rates of PCOD, there’s still a general lack of awareness about the condition.
What is PCOD?
To a large extent, the name ‘PCOD’ is itself confusing, as it doesn’t always cause ovarian cysts to form. In fact, some women with PCOD never develop cysts, while other women with ovarian cysts don’t suffer from PCOD at all. The defining feature is instead the imbalance of hormones, which can result in a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms. The precise causes of PCOD are still not clearly understood, but it is associated with genetic factors, inflammatory response, and poor insulin sensitivity.
How PCOD Affects Your Body
PCOD can affect your body in a variety of ways, causing a wide range of symptoms. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms and in some cases the condition can even be asymptomatic for years. While pelvic pain is one of the best known symptoms of PCOD, it’s important for you to be aware of the other ways in which the condition can affect your body.
Irregular Periods: Menstrual irregularities are a common feature of PCOS, along with missing periods or painful periods. This irregularity is a direct result of hormonal imbalances. Changes in flow can also be connected to thickening of the uterine lining or endometrium.
Weight Gain: Studies show that up to 80% of women affected by PCOS also suffer from weight gain, which increases the risk of more serious conditions. Although PCOS makes weight management more complicated, losing just 5-10% of bodyweight is known to produce significant results, reducing the severity of symptoms and lowering the risk of complications.
Hair Growth and Loss: Growth of facial and body hair is another common change that women with PCOD have to contend with. This problem is estimated to affect up to 70% of women, with hair growth also increasing on the torso, arms, and legs. Many women suffer from hair loss on the scalp as well, which is similar to male pattern balding. These PCOD symptoms appear as a result of high androgen levels.
Acne: The increase in male hormone levels with PCOD causes an increase in adult acne on the face and back. If your acne does not respond to conventional treatments that are otherwise effective, it is most likely that PCOD is the underlying cause.
Infertility: Hormonal imbalances that interfere with ovulation don’t just affect the menstrual cycle. They also lower the chances of conception as the ovaries are less likely to release eggs. Up to 80% of women with PCOD tend to suffer from infertility, but this is not irreversible. Lifestyle changes with diet, exercise, and Ayurvedic medications can improve the chances of conception.
Other Complications: In addition to PCOD symptoms, there is also an increased risk of chronic lifestyle diseases that pose a more serious threat. Increased insulin resistance with PCOD raises the risk of prediabetes and type-2 diabetes, with 5-15% of patients developing diabetes within 3 years of a PCOS diagnosis. Changes caused by PCOD also raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease dramatically.
While these PCOS effects are troubling enough, the emotional and mental toll is even higher. Hormonal changes can cause severe mood swings. In addition, infertility and the effect of PCOS symptoms on physical appearance exacerbates feelings of depression and triggers body image disorders. This makes it hard to cope with the condition, but there is hope. Seek help and support from others who have battled and overcome PCOD. You can also limit the impact of the disease by embracing natural treatment options, including Ayurvedic medicine for PCOD, diet modifications, and exercise routines.