After reading the title a lot of people must be wondering if there is any difference between PCOS and PCOD. Well, that is because both of these women’s health conditions are related to hormonal imbalance and ovaries. You’d hear people take either name to describe the condition without thinking that these aren’t the same. PCOD or Polycystic ovarian disease is primarily caused by hormonal disturbance whereas PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is an endocrine system disorder. Genetics and hormones are major causes of both diseases. If we look at the statistics, there is a steep rise in these diseases as about 1 in 8 women suffer from PCOS and 1 in 5 women have PCOS in India. According to Dr. Suparna Bhattacharya, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Kolkata, a majority of the people do not know that these are two different conditions as these are being used interchangeably. Only people with a medical background are well-versed with the hairline differences between these two conditions. Let us tell you all the differences in this article.
What is PCOD?
Polycystic Ovarian Disorder (PCOD) is a condition where the woman’s ovaries release partially-mature or immature eggs in a large amount that becomes cysts over time. In this condition, the ovaries also start to produce male hormones or androgens in excess(generally woman’s body does produce androgens but in very small quantity) that hinders the body’s natural system and cause troubles like irregular periods, sudden weight gain, problem in conceiving, male pattern hair loss to name but a few. Besides, the ovaries also enlarge affecting the body and fertility of the woman. Timely diagnosis and immediate lifestyle changes can help in controlling the condition and decreasing the symptoms.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Talking about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), the causes and symptoms of PCOS are quite the same as PCOD but the two are different. PCOS is an endocrinal problem where the woman’s body releases a high number of androgen male hormone that interferes egg production, development and their release. The eggs don’t ovulate let alone release during ovulation and form cysts with liquid. This causes enlargement of the ovaries and the severe complications that come along such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, type-2 diabetes and various other chronic health issues.
Common Causes of PCOD and PCOS
Here are some common triggers of both of these conditions:
- Genes- In most cases, genes play a pivotal role in the development of a chronic health condition like these. If someone in your family has had this condition, you are highly likely to get it too.
- Insulin Resistance- 2/3rd of the women with PCOD/PCOS are found to have insulin resistance. Insulin hormone helps in absorbing sugar from foods. When the cells of the woman’s body are unable to utilise insulin, it leads to excess production of this hormone to meet the body’s demand. This causes insulin resistance and the ovaries start producing more male hormones.
- Inflammation- This is another major factor in ovarian diseases. Increased inflammation causes higher androgen levels that further increases the risk of PCOS.
- Obesity- This is one of the less talked about causes of these conditions as obesity increases the risk of inflammation.
The most common PCOS and PCOD problem symptoms are:
- Weight gain- Around 80% of women with these conditions like obese or overweight and therefore, weight management is advised as the first step to control the problem.
- Irregular periods- As eggs turn into cysts and do not ovulate, lack of ovulation is caused which leads to irregular period. Many women get only 6-8 periods in 12 months.
- Heavy bleeding- When they get periods, it may be heavy and painful. The reason being long-time buildup of uterine lining that sheds suddenly causing excessive bleeding.
- Skin darkening- Women with either of these conditions tend to face skin darkening problems on the creases such as the neck, under the breasts, etc.
- Acne breakouts- Increased levels of androgen hormone can cause oily skin which leads to excessive acne on the chest, face, back and various other parts of the body.
- Male-pattern baldness- Due to hormonal imbalance, hair becomes thin and prone to breakage. This causes male pattern hair loss.
- Abnormal hair growth- A lot of women with PCOD and PCOS experience facial, chest and back hair growth. This condition is termed hirsutism.
- Headaches- Fluctuating hormones can cause different types of headaches in women. Hormone changes can trigger headaches in some women.
PCOD vs PCOS
These two may sound the same but there are several differences between PCOD and PCOS that you will get to know in this section. PCOS is a metabolic disorder whereas PCOD is an easily manageable disease. Know other pointers in this article:
- PCOD is a serious health condition as it is a metabolic disorder. On the other hand, PCOD is a disease that can be controlled with lifestyle modifications.
- PCOD is more common as compared to PCOS as 1/3rd of women around the globe have PCOD.
- While there are no severe complications of PCOD, PCOS, on the other hand, increases the risk of developing high blood pressure or hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular issues and even endometrial cancer in the worst case.
- PCOS is generally developed earlier and girls may showcase symptoms in their teenage. These include excessive hair growth, acne, weight gain, etc. Parents must get them tested for ovarian disorders.
- PCOD doesn’t cause fertility issues as such but PCOS can cause infertility in women. Women with PCOD can receive medical aid that helps them in getting pregnant but PCOS women may have difficulty in getting pregnant and even suffer a miscarriage.
- Symptoms of PCOD are the same as PCOS but they ovulate regularly. Their periods aren’t as infrequent as PCOS patients. This is why their chances of conceiving are higher. PCOS-affected women have ovulation problem which makes them a victim of infertility.
How PCOD and PCOS Affect Fertility?
The biggest shortcomings of both these hormonal disorders are infertility and problems in conceiving. However, PCOD does not lead to infertility in all women and shouldn’t be considered an obstacle towards pregnancy. For PCOD about 80 percent of cases women can conceive with a little aid, a healthy lifestyle, and can experience a smooth pregnancy. Whereas for PCOS, conception can be a challenge due to hormonal irregularities. To boost fertility and increase the chances of getting pregnant, balanced hormonal cycles are a must. This makes a suitable environment for the ovum to release eggs and ovulate. The problem arises when androgen levels are high in the case of PCOS. This makes ovum and sperm infusion difficult and therefore conception is a challenge in these women.
How to manage PCOD and PCOS?
As per Dr. Suparna Bhattacharya, a healthy lifestyle is the key to manage these disorders. There is something fertility diet that is believed to increase the chances of conception. Women who are facing troubles can also try this diet to embrace motherhood. Besides, weight control is also a must with PCOD and PCOS as it helps in controlling the damage and promote health. Staying physically active is the third important thing to promote fertility. However, getting diagnosed with these conditions at the right time can prevent their severe consequences. If you see symptoms of these issues, immediately consult a gynaecologist or a fertility expert to receive medical aid. This can prevent infertility and increase the chances of successful conception.
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