1. Overview
  2. Understanding the difference between PCOD & PCOS
  3. What is PCOD?
  4. What is PCOS?
  5. How are the two conditions different?
  6. Risks involved with PCOS vs Pcod
  7. Precautions

Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) may sound similar but are different from each other in many ways. The two different medical conditions share a common similarity of being related to ovaries and causing hormonal disturbances in women. Both the conditions can impact woman fertility, and PCOD can be managed by lifestyle and dietary changes, but PCOS treatment may require extensive care. Here we will be discussing in detail regarding PCOS and PCOD, differences between them, regarding its risks, and precautions that can be taken to avoid it. PCOS and PCOD are two different medical conditions that can be managed with the right diet and lifestyle modifications.

Differences between PCOS and PCOD?

Before knowing the differences between PCOS vs PCOD, let's understand the function of ovaries as it is most affected in both the condition. A woman's reproductive system consists of two ovaries which release an egg every alternate month. Ovaries also are responsible for secreting the gonadotrophin hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which regulates fertility, menstruation and development of hair. It also releases androgen in minute quantities. Now let's see the differences between PCOS & PCOD conditions.

Characteristics In PCOS the whole endocrine system is affected. PCOD results when imbalance of hormones occur.
The seriousness of condition Since the whole endocrine system is affected, it can cause metabolic syndrome and is little serious when compared to PCOD PCOD is a lifestyle condition and can be managed through lifestyle and dietary changes.
Diagnosis Ultrasound images show larger ovaries which are around 1.5 - 3 times larger than normal appearing ovaries. In PCOD the ovaries are filled with follicles and don not appear much larger
Causes PCOS can be due to genetic/hereditary conditions, Hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance and inflammation It can also result due to Hormonal imbalances, emotional stress, genetics, obesity, and bad dietary habits.
Occurrence The occurrence of PCOS is relatively low when compared to PCOD. PCOD is a commonly observed condition affecting up to one-third of women all over the world.
Signs & Symptoms PCOS affects metabolically and symptoms may start showing during teenage years. Some common symptoms of PCOS include include loss of hair, male pattern baldness, irritability/mood swings, headache, weight gain, and infertility PCOD symptoms may include abdominal weight gain, irregular Menstrual cycle, hair loss and infertility
Effect on pregnancy Hormone dysregulation in women with PCOS can make it very difficult for them to conceive. This is because of excessive secretion of male hormones called androgen. A woman with PCOS may be at a higher risk of miscarriage. PCOD suffering women can become pregnant with the help of lifestyle modification, dietary and medical aids.
Complications Women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disorders diabetes, obesity, and even endometrial cancer. There are no such complications with PCOD.

What is PCOD?

A woman's reproductive system is assembled in a manner that every alternate month each ovary produces an egg that either become fertilized when coming in contact with sperm or is lost in menstruation. But in conditions like PCOD, the ovaries tend to release a lot of immature or partially-mature eggs that gradually develop into cysts over a time. PCOD is a result of excessive androgen production, which hinders the maturation of oocytes produced each month. PCOD may interfere with a woman's conception and can be managed through exercise, medications and lifestyle/dietary modifications.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex heterogeneous condition distinguished by raised androgen levels, irregular menstrual cycle, and/or presence of small cysts in on one or both the ovaries. One can find more than 10 follicular cysts that pile up every month during an ultrasound evaluation. Its because instead of eggs being released during ovulation, it takes the form of cysts and builds up in the ovaries, causing its enlargement. PCOS can be either morphological or predominantly be due to biochemical conditions like Hyperandrogenemia. Women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing endometrial cancer and various other disorders due to the inhibition of follicular development, presence of microcysts in the ovaries, anovulation, and menstrual changes. It is an oligogenic disorder and is a combination of various factors, including genetic and environmental factors. The pathophysiology behind the disease involves defects in the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, the function of the ovaries, insulin secretion and its function.

How are the two conditions different from each other?

As described earlier, both the conditions differ from each other in many ways.

  1. The severity of the disease: PCOS is a severe condition and difficult to manage, causing severe implications, whereas PCOD can be managed through dietary and lifestyle changes.
  2. Causative factors: both the conditions are a result of excessive production of the male hormone called androgen. However, genetics and environmental factors are also taken into account to cause PCOS and PCOD.
  3. Pathophysiology: Pcos is an advance condition where the excess androgen levels produced to prevent and interfere with the release and production of eggs in the female. Whereas, there occurs an imbalance in the female and male hormones due to various factors.
  4. Occurrence: PCOD is most commonly found to affect women when compared to PCOS.
  5. Impact of PCOS and PCOD in conceiving: PCOD women have a fair chance to get pregnant with medical aid. Whereas, women suffering from PCOS can face many challenges in getting pregnant due to hormone irregularities.

Risks with PCOS and PCOD

Risks associated with PCOS are relatively high when compared to women suffering from PCOD. Some of the risks are mentioned below:

  1. Infertility: Infertility is the biggest issue with PCOS but not with PCOD. The disease reduces the frequency of women entering into ovulation phase. It can be a challenge to get pregnant with PCOS.
  2. Diabetes- PCOS and PCOD both may interfere with insulin secretion and its action. It may also lead to insulin resistance and thus, can cause diabetes.
  3. Cardiovascular disorders: PCOS patients are likely to develop cardiovascular disorders. It is due to diabetes-induced cardiovascular disorders by chronic inflammation.
  4. Endometrial Cancer- Delayed ovulation in PCOS results in the thickening of the endometrium, which is the inner lining of the uterus. It, in turn, may increase the chances of getting endometrial cancer.
  5. Obesity/Weight gain: PCOS patients are likely to gain weight and become obese. It is because they produce too much insulin as a result of insulin resistance. The inability of insulin to function normally may be the reason a woman may gain weight.
  6. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis: It may result due to severe inflammation and accumulation of fat in the liver.
  7. Depression- Hormonal imbalance alters the normal physiological functions in a woman who may induce depressive symptoms, mood swings, irritability and altered behaviour. Even getting diagnosed with PCOS like condition may depress a patient.

Precautions that can be taken to prevent PCOS or PCOD

Good health is the key to avoid and prevent disease conditions like PCOS and PCOD. It helps in treating the hormonal disturbances and associated conditions. If you are looking for solutions to prevent yourself from PCOD or PCOS, try to undergo timely diagnosis and take appropriate steps which can help overcome the syndrome and make the process of conception a success for you.

Some precautions that can be taken to avoid undergoing extensive treatment for PCOS are mentioned below:

1. Lifestyle changes:

Lifestyle modifications like dietary changes, balanced exercise, and adequate sleep for around 7-8 hours a day can help manage the hormone levels in the body and thus prevent PCOS and PCOD from happening.

2. Weight loss:

Research studies have shown losing just five to 10% of total body weight can help regulate the menstrual cycle and improve symptoms related to PCOS and PCOD. It has also been found that losing weight can improve cholesterol levels, and reduce the risks of cardiovascular disorders.

3. Dietary considerations:

Following a dietary regimen that helps you lose weight can automatically help you manage or prevent PCOS from happening. Studies have shown consuming a diet lower in carbohydrates can help manage weight loss and lower insulin levels.

4. Exercise:

Performing mild to moderate exercise daily for 30 minutes or at least three days a week can help women suffering from PCOS to lose weight effectively. Dietary modification followed by exercise may help improve ovulation and insulin levels in women and is found beneficial in the treatment of PCOS.