If you have browsed online for PCOS, you would’ve realized there is a ton of information about the causes, symptoms, and treatment that sometimes can seem overwhelming. Some of the information can also be contradictory to each other. This makes it important to keep yourself informed with the right knowledge and resources about PCOS and consult a doctor to understand if you have PCOS and what are the treatment options.
One of the things you might’ve commonly come across is the use of two terms – PCOS and PCOD. What do these terms mean and why are they used interchangeably? If you have similar questions – read this article to know more!
What is PCOD
PCOD or polycystic ovary disease is a term you might’ve come across online and is interchangeably used with PCOS. Some might even give you a difference between PCOS and PCOD, leaving you wondering which one you have.
The truth is that PCOD is the same thing as PCOS – and there is no difference between the 2 terms. The reason why this confusion began in the first place is that PCOS used to be earlier called PCOD. That’s because scientists then thought this is a disease that has a defining set of causes, symptoms, and treatment options. However, as research advanced, medical professionals understood that PCOS is actually a complex disorder with a range of symptoms that can vary among women. Also, there is no definitive cause as to why PCOS happens and there is no cure for PCOS either.
Hence, the name was changed from a disease to a syndrome – and today the current term in use is PCOS. So if you come across articles giving you an explanation of the differences between PCOS and PCOD, rest assured they are talking about the same thing!
What is PCOS
PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is an endocrine disorder that is a result of the underlying hormonal imbalance of two hormones viz androgens and insulin. Imbalance in these hormones can disrupt your menstrual cycle, and ovulation, make it difficult to get pregnant and cause acne, excess hair, and scalp hair loss.
PCOS is a serious medical condition that requires proper medical care and treatment. Leaving PCOS untreated can increase your risk of developing complications such as heart conditions, diabetes, cancer, and even infertility. The earlier you get diagnosed, and the earlier you start your treatment, the better will be your health outcomes.
So if you are suffering from unexplained symptoms such as weight gain, irregular periods, acne or excess facial hair – don’t ignore these symptoms. Speak to a doctor to get tested, to understand the root cause of your symptoms.
Although there is no definitive cause of PCOS – current studies suggest that it can be a combination of genetics, hormonal imbalances, and lifestyle factors. And every woman will be individual in her experience so not everyone will fit the PCOS criteria perfectly. However, to be diagnosed with PCOS, you need to have two of these three findings:
- Irregular or no periods
- Excess levels of androgen are either detected by a blood test or by symptoms such as excess hair on the face/body, scalp hair loss, or acne
- Polycystic ovaries were seen on the ultrasound
Since many of the symptoms of PCOS also overlap with other conditions, don’t self-diagnose PCOS, instead speak to a doctor who can recommend appropriate tests for you.
Causative Factors of PCOS problem
PCOS is a complex medical condition that can show great variation among women. There is not one cause associated with PCOS and can be a combination of causes.
Although the exact cause is unknown and research is still ongoing to understand the same – it is said that genetics, poor lifestyle habits, and hormonal imbalance (especially in insulin and androgen levels) can cause PCOS.
Your treatment needs to be personalized to your root cause. This can be assessed by getting the required tests done.
Occurrence Of PCOS
PCOS is a common endocrine disorder that affects nearly 100 million women in India alone. Although it is a common disorder, it often goes overlooked or undiagnosed due to a lack of awareness and access to proper treatment.
PCOS can occur in anyone, regardless of their shape and size. It is actually a myth when people say that PCOS only affects overweight women – even lean women who fall under the BMI of less than 25 can be diagnosed with PCOS. PCOS usually affects women in their reproductive years, however, PCOS can also show early signs in teenage girls as well.
Certain factors such as genetics and lifestyle can increase your risk of getting PCOS. But the earlier you get it diagnosed and start proper treatment, the better the treatment outcomes.
Treatment for PCOS problem
Treatment for PCOS should have a personalized approach because every woman will have a different set of symptoms. Your treatment will usually have a combination of making lifestyle changes and taking medications where required.
- Lifestyle changes: Usually doctors recommend making the required lifestyle changes, to begin with, as it has been shown to be the most effective approach in dealing with the symptoms. Lifestyle changes mean eating a balanced, nutritious diet, incorporating regular physical activity, practicing stress management techniques, and getting good quality sleep. Nearly 80% of your treatment plan is about your diet – however generic diet plans don’t work. You need a personalized diet that addresses your hormonal imbalance. When it comes to exercise, usually performing workouts that you can perform sustainably and enjoy performing are recommended for PCOS.
- Medications: Not all women are prescribed medications. Some women can naturally manage their PCOS symptoms, while some may need medications in addition to making lifestyle changes. These medications include:
- Birth control pills: these can help regulate your periods and help restore normal ovary function. Birth control pills are also an easily reversible method of birth control and can also help prevent endometrial cancer.
- Metformin: This drug is commonly prescribed for type 2 diabetes and can also help improve insulin resistance in women with PCOS. Improving insulin resistance can reduce the risk of developing health complications and also many symptoms of PCOS.
- Ovulation induction medications: In women who have had trouble getting pregnant, taking ovulation induction medicines can help stimulate ovulation which can increase the chances of conceiving
Impact of PCOS on Pregnancy
PCOS can impact your ability to get pregnant and carry that pregnancy to term. But PCOS does not make you infertile, you can successfully conceive with PCOS provided you manage your PCOS symptoms before you plan on getting pregnant.
The main reason why many women struggle with PCOS is irregular periods. Irregular periods can affect your ovulation cycle (which is egg release). Without ovulation, there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize. This is why it is important to first regulate your period cycle and improve ovary function to increase your chances of conceiving.
Often making lifestyle changes and taking medications where required can help with conceiving naturally. In certain cases, where neither medications nor lifestyle changes have worked, assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF can be another treatment option.
As you can see, there is no difference between PCOS and PCOD and both are the terms of the same condition. PCOD is simply an outdated term that is no longer in use. However, if you suspect you have PCOS or are showing symptoms, it is recommended to speak to a doctor who can recommend appropriate tests and work with you to come up with a personalized plan that will work for you.