Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) are both conditions associated with hormonal imbalances and the ovaries in women of reproductive age. However, despite the symptom similarities, PCOS and PCOD are quite different, especially when it comes to pregnancy and further health complications.
In this article, we outline the similarities between PCOS v’s PCOD, what are the differences between the two conditions, as well as treatment options, and the natural remedies that provide relief.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that originates in the endocrine system. Due to disrupted signals from the pituitary gland, the ovaries overproduce male sex hormones known as androgens and underproduce female hormones like estrogen and progestin.
This imbalance of hormones interferes with the production and release of eggs from the ovaries, resulting in enlarged ovaries, ovarian cysts, and sometimes anovulation, where the ovaries completely stop releasing eggs.
What is PCOD?
Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) is not, in fact, a disease, but more akin to a condition that results from poor lifestyle habits. Lack of exercise, poor diet, stress, and obesity are the cause of hormonal imbalances in PCOD.
This hormonal imbalance, in turn, results in an overproduction of androgens and leads the ovaries to release partially-formed eggs. These immature eggs form as cysts on the outer edges of the ovaries, causing period pain and irregular menstruation, but rarely resulting in infertility.
Common Symptoms of PCOS and PCOD
While PCOS and PCOD differ in some respects, they are both known to develop with the first menstrual cycle during the teenage years, in addition to exhibiting similar symptoms, such as:
- Irregular menstruation
- Severe period pain
- Weight gain
- Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) or excessive hair loss
- Acne on the face, neck, chest, or upper back
- Dark skin patches around the neck, elbows, or groin
- Mood swings
- Anxiety and depression
PCOS vs PCOD - How Are They Different?
Both PCOS and PCOS are indeed associated with hormonal imbalances and the ovaries, however, they also differ in several ways.
Hormonal imbalances, inflammation of the ovaries, and hereditary conditions are the main causes of PCOS. Stress, lack of exercise, genetics, and poor diet are the main causes of PCOD.
PCOS is considered a medical condition that requires treatment, whereas PCOD is referred to as a common condition that can usually be managed with healthy lifestyle changes.
According to statistics, PCOS affects as little as 0.2-2.5% of women worldwide. In contrast, PCOD is known to affect 30% of women in the world.
4. Impact on Pregnancy
Many PCOS patients encounter difficulties when trying to become pregnant due to lack of ovulation and infertility problems. The risk of miscarriage is three times higher, and the chances of preeclampsia, premature deliveries, non-elective cesareans, and gestational diabetes are also increased.
PCOD, however, does not definitively cause infertility and with some healthy lifestyle changes, most women with PCOD can experience a normal pregnancy.
In addition to infertility, and heightened risks during pregnancy, further complications associated with PCOS include obesity and diabetes due to insulin resistance, high blood pressure and low cholesterol due to elevated blood sugar levels, endometrial cancer due to delayed ovulation, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis due to an enlarged or inflamed liver.
While PCOD can produce irritating symptoms, is not known to result in any serious complications.
Which is More Harmful: PCOS or PCOD?
Think about it this way – hormonal imbalances are caused by PCOD. In comparison, PCOS is caused by a hormonal imbalance. This being the case, PCOS is considered more harmful.
Because PCOD is a symptom of poor lifestyle choices, it can be managed and practically cured with regular exercise, meditation, and healthier dietary choices. PCOS, on the other hand, is a metabolic disorder that requires medical treatment and sometimes surgery.
Medical Treatment for PCOS and PCOD
Before considering treatment options, your healthcare provider will note your symptoms and carry out tests to diagnose PCOS or PCOD. These tests will generally include a pelvic exam, blood tests, and an ultrasound.
Depending on your symptoms and diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following as treatment:
- Oral contraceptive pills to rebalance hormone levels, regulate menstrual cycles, and reduce hormonal acne.
- Diabetes medication to lower insulin resistance
- Fertility drugs if patients are trying to become pregnant
- Medication to reduce excessive hair growth or hair loss
- Ovarian surgery, if symptoms do not improve
Natural Remedies for PCOS and PCOD
While natural remedies will not cure PCOS or PCOD, they can significantly help to manage symptoms, improve fertility and increase your chances of becoming pregnant. If you have PCOS or PCOD, it is highly recommended by women's health experts to incorporate the following into your life.
1. Regular Exercise
According to various studies, a regular exercise routine (30 minutes three times a week) can help women to lose weight, feel healthier, be less anxious, and significantly reduce symptoms associated with PCOD. Regular exercise and weight loss are also believed to improve fertility and lower insulin levels in PCOS patients.
2. Healthier Diet
By limiting refined carbohydrates, starchy foods, and sugar, PCOS patients can significantly control PCOS-related insulin resistance and find it easier to lose weight. Instead, choose more healthy options like vegetables, fiber-rich foods, lean protein, and unsalted nuts, as well as plenty of water to stay hydrated.
4. Better Sleep
As with most conditions, studies have shown that a healthy sleep routine (roughly 8 hours per night) can significantly help to improve PCOS and PCOD symptoms like anxiety, depression, mood swings, and ultimately your desire to exercise regularly.
Abstain from drinking caffeine, alcohol, or sugary drinks a few hours before bedtime and cease screen time at least 30 minutes before bed to allow the mind to unwind and slow down for sleep.
5. Inositol Supplements
A combination of Myo and D Chiro Inositol in supplement form has been proven to influence the use of insulin in women suffering from PCOS and PCOD, as well as regulate brain hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. The regulation of these hormones, in addition to improving the use of insulin in the body, has several benefits for PCOS and PCOD patients.
According to studies, a regular Myo and D Chiro Inositol supplement can help to rebalance testosterone levels, clear acne, improve ovarian health and fertility, and prevent diabetes.
The added ashwagandha and vitamin D in the Myo and D Chiro Inositol Supplement from Intimate Rose also work to reduce additional symptoms of PCOS like stress and mood swings, making it the most powerful inositol supplement on the market.
While PCOS and PCOD are both associated with hormonal imbalances and ovarian health, and they share similar symptoms, they are different conditions. With one requiring medication, and the other needing only natural remedies, an early diagnosis from your healthcare practitioner will ensure you receive the best and most appropriate treatment.
A healthy lifestyle is also paramount in preventing and treating the hormonal imbalances associated with these conditions.
Mayo Clinic – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439
Diagnostic Centers – Basic Differences Between PCOD and PCOS You Should know - https://www.diagnosticcentres.in/healthcare-article/basic-differences-between-pcod-and-pcos-test-you-should-know
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Type 2 diabetes and the polycystic ovary syndrome - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14973409/
Johns Hopkins Medicine- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome - https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Effects of Inositol(s) in Women with PCOS: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5097808/