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PCOD vs PCOS: Are they Same?
The human body is composed of many hormones, vitamins, nutrients, etc that keep it stable and functional. It is highly important to ensure that these levels are in the normal range so that there is no underlying issue. Ups and downs in these levels can result in a series of complications – some minor while others can develop into chronic conditions. Diabetes, PCOD PCOS, thyroid, etc are such medical conditions. One of the major problems of PCOD would be that the reproductive cycle is severely affected.
Table of Contents
What is PCOD?
PCOD or polycystic ovarian disease is a condition wherein the ovaries produce large eggs that are immature or partially developed. There is a high production of these eggs that eventually end up becoming cysts on the ovaries. As the PCOD full form suggests, the condition is caused due to poly or multiple cysts on the ovaries resulting in the ovaries becoming large. The increase in size is also accompanied by a greater secretion of male hormones (androgens) that can lead to other complications.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is polycystic ovary syndrome which is considered to be a metabolic disorder. Commonly prevalent in women between the ages of 12 to 51, it can hamper the hormones and can create an imbalance in the prime reproductive years. The similarity between PCOS and PCOD is that an over-secretion of male hormones is present in both leading to irregular menses, difficulty in conception, abnormal hair growth, etc. This is a medical condition that needs to be tended to and treated at the early stages to avoid complications.
What are the common signs and symptoms of PCOD / PCOS problems?
The PCOD full form can give you an idea about what the issue might look like anatomically, however, there are several signs to watch out for to keep an early check on the onset of these medical conditions. Some common symptoms of PCOD and PCOS can look like this –
- Period specific
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Skipped periods (with no discernible pattern)
- Heavy bleeding
- Body specific
- Excessive hair growth on the face and body
- Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
- Weight gain
- Increased hair fall
- Darkening of the skin in the neck, groin, or under the breasts.
Cause of PCOS
The exact reason for PCOD problem or PCOS may not be known, however, there are a few correlated factors that have been noted. Bodily factors like hormones or genes, medical reasons, and environmental factors can be contributing aspects to the development of symptoms of PCOD and PCOS.
Excess insulin production
Higher levels of insulin in the body can be accompanied by an increased production of androgens (male hormones) that can lead to difficulty in ovulation. A PCOD patient might have to deal with hormonal issues on two levels – insulin and androgen.
Excess androgen production
The basic premise and issue in this scenario would be excessive androgens that are being produced by the ovaries. It can lead to other problems of PCOD like an increase in acne and hair growth throughout the body.
Recent studies have shown that the bodies of a female with PCOS and PCOD might also show higher low-grade inflammation across different organs in the body. This, eventually, can lead to increased production of androgens in the body. Such complications can also lead to the blocking of certain blood vessels or heart problems.
One of the major causes and risk factors that can cause PCOD and PCOS is genetics. Mothers who show symptoms of these conditions, fibroids, hormonal changes, etc are more likely to produce offspring with a greater risk to develop similar conditions.
Complications of PCOS / PCOD
Even though there is a slight difference between PCOS and PCOD, they often present similar complications. The increased production of male hormones can vastly result in issues that are not normal for a woman’s body. This can create several acute and chronic illnesses that can be prevented if the problems of PCOD were nipped in the bud. Here are some complications of this hormonal condition that would need medical assistance:
- Excessive uterine bleeding
- Inability to conceive or infertility
- Hypertension infertility
- Early labor or premature birth
- Higher rate of miscarriages.
- Depression (common due to hormonal fluctuations)
- Metabolic diseases – higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure symptoms, heart problems, stroke, etc
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
- Sleep apnea and other sleep-related difficulties (more common in women who are overweight)
- Endometrial cancer – the thick uterine lining can cause this
PCOD problem means not just short-term difficulties and complications but it can also lead to other issues in the future. A regular check on their health and symptoms would be vital to reducing any unwanted future difficulties.
Difference between PCOD and PCOS
Since the two conditions can get confusing, it is important to first look at the PCOD and PCOS differences to get an accurate understanding of what you might be going through. The age of onset and overall symptoms might be similar. The PCOD full form does not give away much in terms of what the overall differences would be between the two. Here are some basic differentiating factors between the conditions.
- PCOD problem symptoms are more common as it affects approximately 10% of the women in the world. Contrarily, PCOS is a serious medical condition that is prevalent among 0.2 to 2.5% of the women population all over the globe
- In PCOD, the ovaries produce underdeveloped or undeveloped eggs and this can be a result of poor lifestyle, stress, hormonal changes, obesity, etc. PCOS is considered to be a metabolic condition and is more severe than PCOD as it can lead to a stage where the ovaries might stop releasing eggs.
- The overall fertility of a woman might not get entirely hampered while experiencing PCOD problem symptoms. With a little bit of help, the woman might be able to get pregnant as the ovulation process would not have stopped. In PCOS, however, the fertility of a woman gets severely affected. Since ovulation does not happen every month, it becomes hard for the woman to conceive. The pregnancy would be high-risk.
- Other complications do not accompany polycystic ovarian disease while PCOS can be followed by type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.
Diagnosis of PCOD / PCOS
Upon the experience of certain problems of PCOD, you can get some testing done for an accurate diagnosis. If you have noticed the basic signs that can point to the diagnosis of this condition, visit your gynecologist and get certain imaging and testing done to get the formal diagnosis. They may recommend certain tests and imaging that will help them spot the pertinent symptoms of PCOD problem in females like cysts on the ovaries, thick lining, etc.
The gynecologist might recommend/perform a physical examination of the reproductive organs to check for any masses, growths, abnormalities, etc.
The PCOD problem can also be diagnosed with the help of certain blood tests that can provide insight into the functioning of the body. Tests to check the overall hormone levels of the body like – lipid profile for cholesterol levels, triglycerides levels, LDL, HDL levels, and glucose tolerance tests.
The meaning of PCOD is cysts on the ovaries that can be diagnosed and looked at with the help of certain imaging tests. It can help take a look at the lining of the uterus and the number of cysts on the ovaries if any.
Lifestyle modification and home remedies for PCOD / PCOS
The PCOD problem is one that a woman may have to learn to deal with throughout her life. Since PCOD affects the overall hormonal balance in a woman’s body, certain changes to decrease the androgen levels would be important for efficient management of the symptoms
Maintaining Body weight
Most doctors recommend their patients maintain healthy body weight and BMI that ranges from 18.5 to 24.9 as it is considered healthy. This also helps to reduce the other problems that can be associated with PCOD. Your body weight can also play a role to keep other complications in check like – cholesterol levels, delaying the onset of diabetes, maintain and regulate the flow of insulin, keeping androgen levels in check, etc.
Limiting carbohydrate consumption
You will notice that your PCOD problem and the complicated symptoms would have taken a backseat if your eating habits were healthy with a significantly reduced intake of carbs. A low-carb diet can also help to maintain the insulin resistance levels in the body. Foods like fish, eggs, vegetables, etc would help to keep the problems of PCOD in check.
Do regular exercise and be active
Lastly, with PCOS and PCOD, a good amount of exercise will ensure that your body is in shape. Along with this, reduction in overall body fat, reducing stress hormones with the release of endorphins, and the improvement in insulin sensitivity would be added benefits of exercising in the alleviation of complications of PCOD.
Any hormonal issue that is related to the endocrine system and can affect other functions of the body can be highly consequential. Both PCOD and PCOS are conditions that can create an impact on a woman’s body in severe ways. Ensure that you are taking a look at the warning signs and are taking precautions to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially if there is a higher risk or predisposition towards the condition.
Is PCOS more serious than PCOD?
Even though the overall signs of PCOS and PCOD might be similar, PCOS is usually considered more serious. PCOD can often be managed by making lifestyle changes and might not need medication.
Is PCOD a permanent disease?
Yes, PCOD is a permanent condition that lasts for a lifetime. However, the symptoms can be managed with proper healthcare and lifestyle changes. Women may experience different symptoms but will have to maintain healthy patterns
At what age PCOS starts?
Depending on the causes of PCOD and PCOS, women might experience slightly different onsets. Typically, it can range anywhere from the first menstrual cycle to around their 20s or 30s. On average, most women report experiencing symptoms during their reproductive ages.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.