What is PCOD or PCOS – Symptoms, Treatment



Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. PCOS affects the ovaries, the reproductive organs responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone hormones, and regulating the menstrual cycle.

What is PCOD or PCOS?

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PCOS is characterized by the presence of multiple cysts on the ovaries, irregular menstrual cycles, and high levels of androgens (male hormones) in the body. These hormonal imbalances can lead to various symptoms and complications.

Causes of PCOD:

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Insulin resistance, where the body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin (Insulin Resistance), is also thought to play a significant role in the development of PCOS.

Hormonal Imbalance

  1. Androgen Excess: PCOS is often characterized by elevated levels of androgens, commonly known as male hormones. This excess androgen production can disrupt the balance of hormones in the body, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and other symptoms.
  2. Insulin Resistance: Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. This resistance can trigger increased insulin production, which in turn stimulates the ovaries to produce more androgens, contributing to the hormonal imbalance seen in PCOS.

Genetic Factors

  1. Family History: There is evidence to suggest that PCOS may have a genetic component, as it tends to run in families. Women with a family history of PCOS are at a higher risk of developing the condition themselves.
  2. Gene Variations: Certain gene variations or mutations may predispose individuals to PCOS by affecting hormone regulation and insulin sensitivity. However, more research is needed to fully understand the genetic factors underlying PCOS.

Lifestyle Factors

  1. Obesity: Excess weight or obesity is strongly associated with PCOS. Adipose (fat) tissue produces hormones and cytokines that can influence hormone levels and insulin sensitivity, exacerbating the hormonal imbalances seen in PCOS.
  2. Sedentary Lifestyle: Lack of physical activity and sedentary behavior have been linked to an increased risk of PCOS. Regular exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity and regulate hormone levels, reducing the risk of PCOS.

Environmental Factors

  1. Endocrine Disruptors: Exposure to certain environmental chemicals, known as endocrine disruptors, may contribute to the development of PCOS by interfering with hormone production and regulation. These chemicals are found in various products, including plastics, pesticides, and personal care products.
  2. Stress: Chronic stress can disrupt hormone balance and contribute to insulin resistance, potentially exacerbating PCOS symptoms. Managing stress through relaxation techniques and stress-reducing activities may help mitigate these effects.

Signs and Symptoms of PCOD:

Here is the list of common signs and symptoms associated with PCOS.

Irregular Menstrual Cycles

  1. Oligomenorrhea: Infrequent menstrual periods, with cycles longer than 35 days or fewer than eight menstrual cycles per year.
  2. Amenorrhea: Absence of menstrual periods for three consecutive months or longer.


  1. Acne: Persistent or severe acne, particularly on the face, chest, or back, may indicate elevated androgen levels.
  2. Hirsutism: Excessive hair growth in a male-pattern distribution, such as on the face, chest, abdomen, or back.
  3. Male-Pattern Baldness: Thinning hair or hair loss resembling male-pattern baldness, known as androgenic alopecia.

Polycystic Ovaries

  1. Enlarged Ovaries: Transvaginal ultrasound may reveal enlarged ovaries with multiple small cysts (follicles), although this finding alone is not diagnostic of PCOS.
  2. Ovarian Volume: Increased ovarian volume (>10 cm³) may be observed due to the presence of multiple follicles.

Metabolic Symptoms

  1. Insulin Resistance: Symptoms such as weight gain, particularly around the abdomen, and difficulty losing weight despite efforts to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
  2. Acanthosis Nigricans: Darkening and thickening of the skin, particularly in body folds such as the neck, armpits, or groin, may be a sign of insulin resistance.

Reproductive Symptoms

  1. Infertility: Difficulty conceiving due to irregular ovulation or anovulation (lack of ovulation).
  2. Miscarriage: Women with PCOS may have an increased risk of miscarriage compared to women without the condition.
  3. Pregnancy Complications: PCOS is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm birth.

Psychological Symptoms

  1. Mood Swings: Fluctuations in mood, including depression, anxiety, irritability, or mood swings, may occur in women with PCOS.
  2. Fatigue: Persistent fatigue or low energy levels may be experienced, possibly due to hormonal imbalances and disrupted sleep patterns.

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Risk Factors OF PCOD:

Several factors may increase the risk of developing PCOS, including:

  • Family history of PCOS
  • Obesity or excess weight
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Insulin resistance or diabetes
  • Hormonal imbalances


Diagnosing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often involves the application of standardized criteria to identify the characteristic features of the condition. One widely used set of criteria is the Rotterdam criteria, which takes into account various clinical, hormonal, and ultrasonographic parameters. Let’s see:

Clinical Findings and Examination

  1. Menstrual History: Irregular menstrual cycles, oligomenorrhea, or amenorrhea are common presenting symptoms of PCOS.
  2. Physical Examination:
  • Signs of androgen excess such as acne, hirsutism, and male-pattern baldness may be observed.
  • Assessment of body mass index (BMI) to evaluate for obesity, a common feature in PCOS.
  • Pelvic examination may reveal enlarged ovaries or the presence of ovarian cysts, although this is not specific to PCOS.

Laboratory and Blood Tests

1. Hormonal Assays:

  • Evaluation of testosterone levels, with elevated levels suggestive of hyperandrogenism.
  • Assessment of the luteinizing hormone (LH) to follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) ratio, with an elevated ratio (>2) considered indicative of PCOS.
  • Measurement of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) levels, typically decreased in PCOS.

2. Insulin and Glucose Levels:

  • Fasting glucose and insulin levels, with insulin resistance commonly observed in PCOS.
  • Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to assess glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.

3. Lipid Profile: Dyslipidemia is prevalent in PCOS and may contribute to cardiovascular risk.

Radiology Findings

  1. Transvaginal Ultrasound:
  • Assessment of ovarian morphology, with enlarged ovaries and the presence of multiple small follicles (>12) characteristic of PCOS.
  • Ovarian volume measurement, with increased volume (>10 cm³) suggestive of PCOS.
  1. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): Occasionally used to evaluate ovarian morphology and rule out other pelvic pathologies.

Rotterdam Criteria

The Rotterdam criteria for PCOS diagnosis require the presence of at least two out of three criteria:

  1. Oligoovulation or anovulation.
  2. Clinical or biochemical signs of hyperandrogenism.
  3. Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound, defined as the presence of ≥12 follicles measuring 2-9 mm in diameter or ovarian volume >10 cm³.

Treatment OF PCOD:

While there is no cure for PCOS, treatment focuses on managing symptoms and reducing the risk of complications. Treatment options may include:

Lifestyle Modifications

  1. Healthy Diet: Adopting a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help manage weight, improve insulin sensitivity, and regulate hormone levels.
  2. Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity, such as aerobic exercise, strength training, or yoga, can help improve insulin sensitivity, promote weight loss, and regulate menstrual cycles.
  3. Stress Management: Stress-reducing techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga may help alleviate stress and improve overall well-being.


  1. Oral Contraceptives: Birth control pills containing estrogen and progestin can help regulate menstrual cycles, reduce androgen levels, and alleviate symptoms such as acne and hirsutism.
  2. Anti-androgen Medications: Medications such as spironolactone or finasteride may be prescribed to reduce androgen levels and alleviate symptoms of hirsutism and male-pattern baldness.
  3. Insulin-sensitizing Agents: Metformin, a medication commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, may be prescribed to improve insulin sensitivity and regulate menstrual cycles in women with PCOS, particularly those with insulin resistance.
  4. Fertility Medications: Women trying to conceive may benefit from fertility medications such as clomiphene citrate or letrozole to induce ovulation.
  5. Gonadotropin Injections: In some cases, injectable medications called gonadotropins may be used to stimulate ovulation in women with PCOS who do not respond to oral medications.

Surgical Interventions

  1. Ovarian Drilling: Laparoscopic ovarian drilling is a surgical procedure that involves making small incisions in the ovaries to reduce the number of androgens produced and improve ovulation.
  2. Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART): In vitro fertilization (IVF) or other ART procedures may be recommended for women with PCOS who have difficulty conceiving through other means.

Lifestyle Interventions

  1. Weight Loss: Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity, regulate menstrual cycles, and reduce symptoms of PCOS.
  2. Smoking Cessation: Quitting smoking is important for overall health and may help improve fertility outcomes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications associated with PCOS.


Untreated PCOS can lead to various complications, including:

  • Infertility: Irregular ovulation and hormonal imbalances may make it difficult to conceive.
  • Metabolic syndrome: PCOS increases the risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
  • Endometrial cancer: Irregular menstrual cycles and excess estrogen exposure may increase the risk of endometrial (uterine) cancer.

In summary, PCOD is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age and can have significant implications for health and fertility.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs on PCOD

1. What is the PCOD problem in females?

  • PCOD, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by irregular menstrual cycles, excess androgen levels, and polycystic ovaries.

2. How to cure PCOD permanently?

  • There is no known cure for PCOD, but it can be managed through lifestyle modifications, medications, and sometimes surgical interventions to alleviate symptoms and improve overall health.

3. Can a PCOD girl get pregnant?

  • Yes, women with PCOD can get pregnant, although they may face challenges due to irregular ovulation. Fertility treatments may be necessary for some women with PCOD to conceive.

4. What is the main cause of PCOS?

  • The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, hormonal, and lifestyle factors such as insulin resistance and excess androgen production.

5. Is PCOD harmful?

  • PCOD can lead to various complications such as infertility, diabetes, heart disease, and endometrial cancer if left untreated. Proper management is essential to prevent these complications.

6. Is PCOD a problem after marriage?

  • PCOD can affect women of reproductive age, including those who are married. It may impact fertility and menstrual regularity, but with proper management, many women with PCOD can conceive and lead healthy lives.

7. Which food is best for PCOD?

  • A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats is beneficial for women with PCOD. Avoiding processed foods and sugary snacks is recommended.

8. How can I solve my PCOD naturally?

  • Lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise, stress management, and a healthy diet can help manage PCOD symptoms naturally. Some women may also benefit from herbal supplements or alternative therapies, but consult a healthcare provider before trying any new treatment.

9. Which fruits cure PCOD?

  • There are no specific fruits that “cure” PCOD, but incorporating a variety of fruits into a balanced diet can provide essential nutrients and antioxidants beneficial for overall health and PCOD management.

10. How do I check PCOD?

  • PCOD is diagnosed based on medical history, physical examination, and various tests including hormonal assays, pelvic ultrasound, and assessment of symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycles and signs of hyperandrogenism.

11. What does a PCOS belly look like?

  • Women with PCOS may have excess abdominal fat, often distributed around the abdomen, giving rise to a characteristic “apple-shaped” appearance. This abdominal obesity is associated with insulin resistance.

12. What should I avoid if I have PCOD?

  • Women with PCOD should avoid processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages high in added sugars. Limiting intake of refined carbohydrates and saturated fats is also recommended.

13. Does drinking water help PCOD?

  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is important for overall health, but it alone is not a treatment for PCOD. However, adequate hydration supports metabolic processes and may contribute to overall well-being.

14. Can we eat rice in PCOD?

  • Whole grain rice can be included in a balanced diet for women with PCOD. Opt for brown rice or other whole grain varieties, and moderate portion sizes to manage carbohydrate intake.

15. Is papaya good for PCOD?

  • Papaya is a nutritious fruit rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which can be beneficial for women with PCOD as part of a balanced diet. However, individual dietary preferences and tolerances should be considered.

16. Is walking best for PCOD?

  • Walking is a beneficial form of exercise for women with PCOD as it helps improve insulin sensitivity, regulate menstrual cycles, and manage weight. However, incorporating a variety of physical activities into your routine is recommended for overall fitness.

17. Which drink is best for PCOD?

  • Water, herbal teas, and unsweetened beverages like green tea or coconut water are good choices for hydration in women with PCOD. Avoid sugary drinks and excessive caffeine intake.

18. Is banana good for PCOD?

  • Bananas are a nutritious fruit rich in potassium and other essential nutrients. They can be included as part of a balanced diet for women with PCOD, but portion control is key due to their natural sugar content.

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