Polycystic ovary disease is a common female hormonal disorder that interferes with the normal functioning of the reproductive system. While it is a common disease, not many are aware of its symptoms, effects, or reasons. There are many myths and doubts about polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) that must be addressed to keep yourself and your loved ones from suffering unnecessarily. Other than acne, weight gain, extra facial and body hair, and irregular periods, women can perhaps suffer from infertility if they have this hormonal disorder. To understand all about it thoroughly, Team Her Zindagi spoke to Dr. Gauri Agarwal, IVF & infertility specialist, Founder of Seeds of Innocence & Genestrings Lab.
“Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) affects an estimated 5-10 percent of the women and is a common cause of infertility among women. However, it is also treatable and a majority of women with PCOD do have children after seeking medical help and making certain healthy lifestyle changes,” explained Dr. Gauri. She further explained what exactly happens, when an individual suffers from polycystic ovarian disease.
“In normal circumstances, ovaries in women produce predominantly female sex hormones along with a small number of male sex hormones. Interestingly, women do need certain levels of male hormones or androgens for their bodies to function normally. Together, these hormones enable the development of eggs and the progress of regular menstrual cycles. However, in some women there arises an imbalance in these sex hormones and the ovaries start producing a larger level of androgens than normally required,” she said.
“This excess of androgens interferes with the normal process of ovulation, results in irregular menstrual cycles and other health issues,” she added. Apart from irregular periods, women with PCOD may experience other symptoms such as excessive facial hair, acne breakouts, mood swings, and weight gain. Women with PCOD are also more vulnerable to experiencing depression.
While the exact cause of this hormonal imbalance is not understood, it is believed that a “combination of genetic and environmental factors is the root of PCOD. If your mother, sister, aunt have PCOD, you carry a higher risk of inheriting the condition. PCOD is also associated with a possible higher risk of breast and endometrial cancers and obesity,” told Dr. Gauri. Consequently, obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, and blood pressure are also common among people with PCOD who struggle to lose weight.
Here’s What Happens To The Reproductive System During PCOD
The ovary is the central reproductive organ in women. It is the ovary that produces and releases eggs every month. Naturally, a hormonal disorder having its origin in the ovary interferes with the normal reproductive process.
The process of ovulation involves the release of one or more eggs from the follicles within the ovaries. “In polycystic ovary syndrome, follicles fail to release the eggs and end up forming tiny cysts in the ovary. This is why the condition is called polycystic ovary disease. Excess of male hormones may also affect the quality of eggs in case they are released. The condition results in a breakdown of the normal ovulation process, causing infertility,” described the infertility specialist.
Can You Conceive With PCOD?
PCOD does impact fertility negatively, “but this does not mean that women with the condition cannot get pregnant. In fact, most women with this condition manage to conceive with some medical help and lifestyle corrections,” said Dr. Gauri.
“Lifestyle improvements that primarily include a healthy diet, exercise, and weight loss, are very important for people with PCOD. A diet low on carbohydrates and rich in fruits and vegetables is found to help improve the condition along with regular exercise,” she added.
Weight loss is also critical in enabling a better response to fertility medications if needed. Weight loss enables a number of women with PCOD to conceive naturally without the need for fertility medications. “Other women, however, may need medication to be able to conceive. Progesterone pills are often prescribed to make menstrual cycles more regular. Other treatment drugs include LHRH analogs that lower the body's ability to make testosterone and metformin that increase the body's sensitivity to insulin thereby bettering PCOD symptoms. Clomiphene citrate is another drug that is prescribed to stimulate the process of ovulation,” concluded Dr. Gauri Agarwal, who is IVF and infertility specialist.
We hope this article cleared all your doubts. Stay tuned to Her Zindagi to read more such articles.