Amongst the many lifestyle-related diseases that women face, PCOS and PCOD are the most widely known. PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome, and PCOD stands for polycystic ovarian disease.
PCOS and PCOD are very common and affect 4% - 20% of the female population worldwide. Even today, there is still a lot of confusion about whether the terms are the same. More often than not, they are used interchangeably.
If you are someone who falls into this category of using the terms interchangeably, we are here to tell you otherwise. PCOS and PCOD are two very different diseases that affect the same organ. This blog post will discuss everything you need to know to differentiate between the two.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic disorder that causes a hormonal imbalance for the duration of a woman's reproductive years. This is normally between the age of 12-51. The ovaries secrete androgens, the male hormone, in excess abundance. This over-secretion of male hormones in the body causes women to have irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation cycles. The interference in the ovulation process hinders the development of eggs, which remain immature and develop into cysts filled with liquid. This makes it very hard for these women to conceive and even leads to abnormal hair growth in the facial region. Moreover, PCOS is a dangerous variant because it puts its patients at risk of developing heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and even lifelong infertility.
What is PCOD?
Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD), affects the same organ and has somewhat similar symptoms as PCOS. In this condition, the ovaries release immature eggs that eventually develop into cysts and cause hormonal imbalances and swollen ovaries. The enlarged ovaries start secreting excess androgens only when this condition is not addressed for prolonged periods. PCOD leads to abnormal weight gain, facial hair growth, male-pattern baldness, and also poses trouble in conception.
How is PCOS different from PCOD?
Nature of both the conditions
As mentioned earlier, PCOD and PCOS are both lifestyle diseases. However, PCOD isn’t considered a serious condition since it can be corrected with a few health modifications. PCOS is a more severe condition since it is a metabolic disorder of the endocrine system.
PCOD is a condition where hormones are out of balance whereas PCOS is a metabolic disorder. Both these conditions cause an imbalance in hormones and are closely linked to genetics. The surge in the production of male hormones in the body is said to be the cause behind preventing the ovaries from producing eggs. Moreover, insulin resistance and inflammation are also reasons for excess androgen production.
Effect on pregnancy
PCOD is more common amongst women. Unlike PCOS, PCOD isn’t a major barrier on the road to pregnancy. With lifestyle modifications and medical help, conception has a high probability of success.
PCOS is a more severe condition and can cause a roadblock for women trying to conceive. It is crucial to have an apt environment to help ovaries release an egg that can fuse with sperm. However, since hormonal activity is so irregular in PCOS, it can pose a severe challenge to conception and requires more extensive medical help.
The causes behind PCOS and PCOS are different. Specific causes behind both conditions are still under research. Some reasons can be linked to a few specific sets of factors, listed below.
- High testosterone levels: An increase in insulin production leads to a surge in testosterone production in the body. This disrupts the ovulation process and leads to PCOS.
- Surge in luteinizing hormones: Women suffering from PCOS often have a rise in the production of luteinizing hormones. This leads to a surge in the production of androgens. Pair this up with low follicle-stimulating hormones, and you have the perfect recipe for causing significant hindrance in ovulation.
- High prolactin levels: Prolactin helps with milk production after childbirth. Consistently irregular fluctuations in prolactin levels can lead to low estrogen production and cause PCOS.
Just like PCOS, the exact causes of PCOD are unknown. However, certain studies have indicated that a sedentary lifestyle, genetics, obesity, hyperandrogenism, genetics, insulin resistance, and hypothyroidism, are among the few speculated causes.
What you can do
Now you know why PCOS and PCOD can’t be used as interchangeable terms. There are no specific treatments for both of these diseases as of yet. However, a shift to a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise can help curb these problems. There also isn’t any particular PCOD or PCOS diet to follow, but a wholefood, balanced diet is known to help regulate hormone levels. We suggest making more nutritious choices to help deal with this problem. The final cure lies in how well you can alter your lifestyle to ensure overall body health.