PCOD (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also known as Sten-Leventhal Syndrome, is a health condition that affects a woman’s ovaries. In this condition the ovary gets enlarged and contains fluid filled sacs which is also known as cysts and tendency of high levels of male hormones, androgen. 7 to 10% women are affected by PCOD.
The ovaries are glands(a pair) located in either side of the uterus(womb). The ovaries actually produce Ova (the eggs), which are then released into the uterus once in month during one’s menstrual cycle. Each of the ovum develops in the woman’s ovary from a swelling which is quite small and is known as follicle.
The ovaries produce certain hormones such as oestrogen, androgen and testosterone which is male hormone.
How does PCOD affect a woman?
PCOD affects in the following ways:
- Every month about 12 follicles develop on surface of a woman’s ovary. This is of course more than usual. These follicles are called cysts and in this manner the disease also gets its name. Poly implies many, Cystic refers to the follicles, Ovary Syndrome. These cysts are fluid sacs in the ovaries are absolutely benign. They are not related in any way to cancer
- Although one comes across many follicles, they do not mature completely and on account of this no ovum happens to be released. When such a situation occurs the woman does not have periods. In some cases the ovulation takes place sometimes, thus causing irregular periods
- The balance of these ovaries gets affected. Normally, the ovaries tend to produce higher levels of testosterone
Causes of POCD
Causes are mostly unknown.
- Increase in luteinising hormone by pituitary gland. If it is not treated on time then this male hormone might get converted to estrogen. In order to balance this enough progesterone has to be produced which does not happens in this case. If this is further not treated than it could lead to another condition called endometerial hyperplasia where the uterus lining gets extremely thickened. This could increase the risk of endometrial cancer(cancer of uterus lining)
- Insulin resistance
Symptoms of PCOD
Symptoms of this condition could start as early as during pregnancy. Women affected with this problem might not get their menstrual period started on time. Because of this the eggs are not released in the ovaries.
- Deepened voice
- Decrease in size of breast
- Increase in muscle size
- Heavy production of insulin or insulin produced does not work effectively
- Increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes
- Weight gain and difficulty in loosing it
- Irregular periods
- Hirsutism. Excessive hair growth on the face as well as the body
- Thinning of the scalp
- Difficulties in getting pregnant
How it is diagnosed
- Blood test to find the level of male hormones and luteinizing hormones
- Ultrasonography to find if the hormones produced is coming from tumor in ovary or adrenal gland
Different women experience different symptoms and the severity of the symptoms also vary. Symptoms usually develop around puberty as well as early twenties. In most cases women who experience this syndrome have difficulty in conceiving.
Other health conditions linked with PCOD
- Women can suffer from Type 2 diabetes or become diabetic during pregnancy
- Sleep apnea
- Infrequent periods which can lead to cancer of the womb
- Poor self-esteem or depression