PCOS and PCOD- Weight Gain Myths & Facts
Updated: Jul 23
Although the two words are used interchangeably, PCOD and PCOS are two completely different cases that occur in women during the reproductive age window. The most basic difference is that while PCOD is a temporary imbalance of male and female sex hormones, PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is essentially a more serious disorder of the endocrine system wherein the female body produces large amounts of male sex hormones, androgens, that interfere with the ovulation and hence effects the fertile capacity of a woman.
All women have two ovaries which release an egg alternately every month. These ovaries also produce female hormones that are responsible for many things like fertility, period schedule, facial hair, etc. apart from these they also produce androgens or male hormones but in very minute quantities.
As the Nutritionist and Wellness Expert at Elate Wellbeing Lounge I get a lot of queries on PCOD and whether it is possible to live a normal life with it. The answer is yes! PCOD can be handled and often cured with the right kind of diet plan for PCOD and weight loss.
PCOS, however, is a collection of various disorders primarily due to inconsistency in the endocrine system. It is a more deep-rooted issue and needs medical intervention wherein no particular cure is in place but symptom management is the major approach.
What is PCOD
PCOD is a condition in which the ovaries contain many immature or partially mature eggs. They, eventually, turn into cysts. Junk food, being overweight, stress and hormonal disturbances give birth to this condition. Common symptoms of PCOD are irregular periods, abdominal weight gain, infertility, and male pattern hair loss. The ovaries usually become enlarged in this problem and secrete large amounts of androgens that cause havoc with the woman’s fertility and her body.
What is PCOS
PCOS is a metabolic disorder that is more severe than PCOD. In this condition, the ovaries produce a higher quantity of the male hormone, and this leads to the formation of more than ten follicular cysts in the ovary every month. This stops the release of an egg leading to anovulation. Symptoms include hair loss, obesity, and infertility.
PCOD vs PCOS – Why Are They Different? (Reference- Pharmeasy Women's’ Health Series)
PCOS is a serious condition. PCOD is not considered a disease as with the correct diet and exercise schedule, the situation improves. PCOS is a metabolic disorder.
PCOD is more common. Almost a third of the women around the world suffer from PCOD. PCOS has a lower number of patients.
PCOS has serious complications. Women who suffer from PCOS are at risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure cardiac-vascular issues, obesity, and even endometrial cancer.
PCOS is visible early in life. Girls who suffer from PCOS show symptoms of the disease since their teenage years. Acne, excessive hair growth and weight gain are apparent from a younger age due to metabolic disturbances.
Those with PCOD do not have significant fertility issues. With a bit of medical help, they conceive successfully. Women who suffer from PCOS, on the other hand, struggle with infertility. They even have higher rates of miscarriages.
Those with PCOD can still ovulate regularly. The women who have PCOD may have similar symptoms as PCOS, but they retain the ability to ovulate periodically and thus, can conceive successfully. However, those with PCOS do not ovulate due to a severe hormonal imbalance that disturbs the process of ovulation.
PCOS is thought to have a genetic component. People who have a mother or sister with PCOS are more likely to develop PCOS than someone whose relatives do not have the condition. This family link is the main risk factor. Sugar is the body’s primary source of energy, and it is regulated in the body by insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas. A person with insulin resistance is unable to use insulin efficiently. This causes the pancreas to go into overdrive secreting additional insulin to meet the body’s glucose needs.
Excess insulin is thought to affect a woman’s ability to ovulate because of its effect on androgen production. Research has shown that women with PCOS have low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens.
Myths about PCOD & PCOS
(Reference: Dr. Robin Berzin, M.D., Doctor & Founder Of Parsley Health)
PCOS Myth #1: PCOS is one syndrome.
No one truly knows what causes PCOS. It is also not one single disorder but at least four independent disorders all characterized by an overlapping but inconsistent set of symptoms:
High androgen, or male hormone, levels
Facial hair growth
Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
PCOS Myth #2: If you have PCOS, you have cysts on your ovaries.
As we can see above, this is not always the case. In type 2 PCOS, a woman presents with irregular cycles and high androgen levels but does not have ovarian cysts.
PCOS Myth #3: If You Lose Weight, You Can Get Rid of PCOS
Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS, but overweight and obese women can help balance their hormone levels by losing weight. Otherwise, treatment is aimed at managing symptoms. PCOD, on the other hand, can be controlled by loss in weight as fat accumulation in the body imbalances the hormones.
PCOS Myth #4: You Can't Get Pregnant if You Have PCOS
This isn’t true for everyone. Give your body a chance by talking with your doctor about fertility treatment. A number of medications can stimulate ovulation, which is the main issue that women with PCOS face.
PCOS Myth #5: PCOS Only Affects Overweight Women
It is true that many women who have PCOS are overweight or obese. And it's also true that obesity can make PCOS symptoms worse. However, PCOS does not discriminate and can affect women of all shapes and sizes. The relationship between weight and PCOS has to do with the body's inability to use insulin properly, which can lead to weight gain.
That is why getting into the habit of eating healthy and exercising regularly is recommended as part of most women's treatment plan.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Management
Treatment for PCOS focuses on managing the symptoms. You might need to lose weight. Eating healthy and getting plenty of exercises can help manage PCOS. Yoga can help a lot in alleviating pain and building strength.
Medicine can help regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce abnormal hair growth and acne. Birth control pills (for women not trying to have a baby) and metformin are 2 prescription medicines that are often helpful. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, those conditions also need treatment.
Indian easy diet plans for management of both PCOD & PCOS are available and are easy to follow. At Elate Wellbeing Lounge, clients are losing weight successfully by following a specified diet and customized exercise patterns for losing weight along with PCOS and PCOD management. Following a regimen, daily physical activity and exercise go a long way in helping with the cause and also curing PCOD cases in the long run.