Polycystic ovarian disorder or syndrome is a hormonal condition that affects every 1 out of 10 women. Women suffering from this condition have an imbalance in the hormones that control the egg release and ovulation process. As a result, there are chances of having irregular periods or even skipped periods that make it harder for them to get pregnant. Also, they produce higher than normal levels of male hormone known as androgen. The regularity of the menstrual cycle is disturbed and causes development of multiple tiny cysts in the ovaries.
Even though the symptoms vary from women to women, the most common noticeable symptoms include:
Irregular Periods –
It is the first noticeable sign. Due to the lack of ovulation, women experience irregular or no periods. Women with PCOD will have less than nine menstrual cycles in a year.
Heavy Bleeding –
As the periods are irregular, there is build-up of the uterine lining, which results in heavy bleeding during the onset of the cycle.
Weight Gain –
Women might experience a sudden weight gain of almost an increase of 30%-50%.
Acne & Abnormal Hair Growth – A condition known as hirsutism where there will be more than normal hair growth on the facial and abdominal areas. The male hormone also leads to the development of acne, along with the darkening of the skin and thinning of hair.
The exact cause of the condition is not known, but the factors that contribute to the development of the condition are:
Excess Male Hormone - The high levels of androgen do not allow the normal function of the ovaries, which in turn can't produce eggs.
Hereditary - Studies confirm that PCOD, if runs in the family, can be passed onto the next generation.
Insulin Resistance - Most women with PCOD are insulin resistant.Which means the body cells can't use insulin properly. To compensate for the condition, the pancreas produces more insulin, which in turn triggers the ovaries to produce more male hormones.
Infertility is one of the major complications associated with PCOD. As the condition interrupts the normal menstrual cycle, it becomes harder for women to get pregnant. It even leads to complications during pregnancy. The other complications associated are:
Abnormal uterine bleeding
Depression and eating disorders
The condition is diagnosed based on the blood tests that look for higher androgen levels along with an ultrasound that identifies the irregular follicle structures. The tests are conducted only after a complete history of the patient is taken.
PCOD can be managed with proper medication and lifestyle changes that focus on weight reduction and insulin regulation. The treatments offered focus on resolving infertility and regularize menstrual cycle with proper ovulation.Authored By : DR RUCHI MALHOTRA, DGO DNB - Obstetrics & Gynecology