Women of reproductive age experience hormonal fluctuations at different life stages. While some hormonal changes are normal and inevitable, others may lead to various metabolic and endocrine disorders. Polycystic Ovarian Disease is one such disorder that affects the ovaries. Ovaries are a pair of reproductive glands that produce eggs and the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones regulate vital body changes such as body hair growth, breast development, menstruation, weight, and fertility. So, what happens to the ovaries when PCOD starts developing? Read on to know more.

What is PCOD?

Let’s start by discussing a normally functioning female reproductive system. The ovaries release an egg every month that travels through the fallopian tube. The uterus lining thickens to nurture the egg if it gets fertilized. However, if there’s no fertilization, the uterus lining breaks down and is eventually flushed out with blood from the vagina. This is how the menstruation cycle works. Now comes PCOD into the picture. It is a condition wherein the ovaries release multiple premature or partially matured eggs. However, instead of their expulsion along with the uterus build-up, these eggs eventually turn to fluid-filled sacs called cysts and also lead to increased androgen secretion.

What are the causes of PCOD?

The exact cause of PCOD has not been identified yet. However, its primary triggers include low-grade inflammation, insulin resistance, and increased male hormone production. An unhealthy lifestyle, pollution, and early menarche age are also associated with PCOD.

What are the symptoms of PCOD?

The symptoms or clinical features of PCOD include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy bleeding when periods occur
  • Infertility
  • Obesity
  • Hirsutism (excessive facial and body hair growth)
  • Alopecia (male pattern baldness)
  • Persistent acne
  • Pigmentation around the mouth or neck region
  • Depression and anxiety

You may experience more than one of these symptoms at a time. Sometimes, PCOD develops silently. It means you may not have any noticeable physical manifestations of PCOD, and it gets diagnosed when symptoms begin worsening.

How can PCOD be cured naturally and permanently?

First, PCOD treatment needs medical intervention. Yes, natural remedies contribute to alleviating the health issues arising from PCOD, but they alone are not enough to manage the problem. However, the good news is several treatment options are available for PCOD treatment and improving the quality of life. These treatment options include:

  • Medicines to treat insulin resistance and balance hormones to correct menstrual cycles
  • Fertility drugs for infertile patients
  • Oral medicines and injections for ovulation induction and rupturing eggs to enhance fertility
  • Second-line treatments such as aromatase inhibitors, laparoscopic surgery, or ovarian drilling, in some cases
  • Skin treatments for acne, pigmentation, and excessive hair growth

A few essential natural remedies for managing PCOD include:

  • Diet modification: PCOD patients tend to have elevated insulin levels, causing blood sugar levels to remain high. This glucose build-up in the blood may eventually lead to type-2 diabetes. Besides, it also increases the risk for obesity and cardiovascular diseases and raises low-grade inflammation. These factors contribute to the onset or worsening of PCOD. Therefore, eliminate simple carbohydrates and refined sugar from your diet to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and low insulin levels. A diet rich in lean proteins, vitamins, complex carbs, and essential minerals helps regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight: A sedentary lifestyle, i.e., the lack of physical activities and eating foods high in sugar, salt, and fats, influence your body weight. Follow a regular exercise schedule to shed the extra kilos as it goes a long way in managing PCOD symptoms.
  • Including Soy products: Soy products are a good source of estrogen. Add these to your diet to maintain healthy estrogen levels in the body. However, do not overconsume them, as excessive estrogen may lead to fibroids, fatigue, and breast cancer problems. It is advisable to check with the doctor before including soy in the diet.
  • Increasing Vitamin D Intake: PCOD patients are likely to be deficient in vitamin D. Adding Vitamin D to your diet may improve insulin sensitivity, aid weight loss, slow the ovarian cyst formation, regulate periods, and decrease inflammation, thus lowering cholesterol and androgens in the blood.
  • Tracking body changes: Use a feminine health app to track your periods, changes in body weight, and mood fluctuations. This information helps gauge the treatment efficacy. Further, with the pill reminder feature of these apps, you can minimize the instances of missing medications and stay on track concerning your treatment.

Can you get pregnant with PCOD?

Conception isn’t difficult if PCOD is under control. However, medications or Assisted reproductive technology (ART) are required in severe PCOD cases. In addition, women with PCOD have limited ovarian capacity. It means their egg quality and the number decrease faster, especially when approaching advanced maternal age. Therefore, early pregnancy is advisable for PCOD patients. Talk to your gynecologist to plan a pregnancy while managing PCOD.

What will happen if PCOD is left untreated?

Neglecting PCOD symptoms may cause several health complications, including:

  • Metabolic syndrome: Undetected or untreated PCOD may affect metabolic performance, increasing the risk for dangerously high sugar levels, cholesterol-related issues, and severe heart disease.
  • Failure to conceive :The hormonal imbalance resulting from PCOD is associated with infertility. Delaying PCOD treatment decreases the chances of a healthy pregnancy.
  • Unpredictable menstrual cycle: PCOD is generally characterized by irregular menstrual cycles. However, it may also cause shorter menstrual cycles in some women. Your periods vacillate between anytime-anywhere and taking-forever-to-come and make enjoying life as usual difficult.
  • Undesirable physical changes: PCOD symptoms such as weight gain, hirsutism, hair thinning, and acne prevent you from looking your best. Unfortunately, treating the symptoms while overlooking the cause does not help much. For example, Vitamin A derivatives, antibiotics, and topical creams for acne treatment will be less effective if PCOD is not under control.

PCOD brings a host of issues related to physical and mental health. However, dietary changes and regular exercise alongside treatment and medication can help manage the disease effectively. Talk to your OBGYN or an endocrinologist if you have PCOD-like symptoms. Remember, the sooner, the better.

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