Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Disease (PCOS/PCOD) is a hormonal disorder that affects women in their reproductive age. PCOS is a common health condition that affects teen and young women, it is seen in 1 out of 10 women in their childbearing age. The reproductive system of women is controlled by the complex interplay of primarily 5 Reproductive Hormones Namely Estrogen, Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone, Follicle Stimulating Hormone, Progesterone and Luteinizing Hormone. An imbalance within these hormones leads to a hormonal disorder called the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) among women of reproductive age.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is marked by the breakdown of reproductive hormones in women of childbearing age. Along with havoc in female hormonal control, ovaries release abnormal amounts of androgen (male hormones). This hormonal breakdown results in irregular or prolonged menstrual periods, excessive body hair, acne and hair loss. Polycystic ovaries may fail to develop follicles and regularly release eggs, causing difficulty in conceiving a pregnancy.
What are the causes of PCOS or PCOD?
There are no certain causes of PCOS, however the contributing factors include:
- Excess androgen: Overproduction of androgen by ovaries causes may lead to hirsutism and acne.
- Excess production of insulin: Insulin hormone controls the blood sugar levels in human body. When human cells become resistant to the action of insulin, the blood sugar level increases. As a result, the body produces an excess of insulin to control this increased blood sugar level. An excessive insulin production in turn increases the production of androgens which are the male hormones, otherwise very less in females. Increased androgen production causes difficulty with ovulation.
- Heredity: Certain genetic correlation may exist with PCOS in women.
- Presence of low-grade inflammation: Women with PCOS experience a low-grade inflammation that may stimulate Polycystic Ovaries to produce Androgens.
What are the signs and symptoms of PCOS or PCOD?
Some women start experiencing symptoms around the time of their first period. Signs and symptoms of PCOS may vary; however, the symptoms are generally more severe in obese patients. Some of the commonly reported signs and symptoms of PCOS include: These include:
- Hair growth in unwanted areas: Hirsutism - Having unwanted hair growing in places such as on your face or chin, breasts, stomach, or thumbs and toes.
- Hair loss: Women with PCOS might see thinning hair on their head, which could worsen in middle age.
- Weight problems: About half of women with PCOS struggle with weight gain or have a hard time losing weight.
- Acne or oily skin: Because of hormone changes related to PCOS, you might develop pimples and oily skin.
- Problems sleeping, feeling tired all the time: You could have trouble falling asleep. Or you might have a disorder known as Sleep Apnoea. This means that even when you do sleep, you do not feel well-rested after you wake up.
- Headaches: This is because of hormone changes with PCOS.
- Trouble getting pregnant: PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility.
- Period problems: You could have irregular periods. Or you might not have a period for several months. Or you might have very heavy bleeding during your period.
What are the possible complications of PCOS or PCOD?
Some of the possible complications of PCOS are:
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Psychological disorders like depression and eating disorders
- Endometrial cancer
- Pregnancy induced or Gestational diabetes and/or hypertension
- Metabolic syndrome
- Miscarriage or premature birth
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
- Sleep apnoea
How is PCOS or PCOD diagnosed?
We are able to diagnose PCOS on the basis of:
Medical history: To get detailed information about menstrual periods and weight changes Presence of at least two of the following symptoms is indicative of PCOS:
- Irregular periods
- Signs of high levels of androgens
- Thinning of scalp hair
- Higher blood levels of androgens
- Polycystic ovaries
- Pelvic exam to assess the reproductive organs for masses, growths or other abnormalities
- Blood, glucose tolerance, cholesterol and triglyceride levels etc
- Ultrasound: To check the appearance of your ovaries and the thickness of the lining of your uterus.
How is PCOS or PCOD treated?
Treatment of PCOS primarily focuses on management of underlying issues like infertility, obesity etc. Management is primarily with medications or lifestyle changes:
- Regulation of menstrual cycle
- Promoting ovulation
- Reduction of excessive hair growth
What lifestyle modifications could be beneficial for women with PCOS?
- Maintenance of a healthy weight: Weight loss can lower insulin and androgen levels and may restore ovulation.
- Diet management and limitation in consumption of carbohydrates: High-carbohydrate and low-fat diets may increase insulin levels.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise helps lower blood sugar levels and control body weight.
How can PCOS affect pregnancy?
Women with PCOS may face problems of:
- Increased indication for Caesarean section
- Gestational diabetes
PCOD & Ayurveda:
This condition is closely associated with the condition named Artavakshaya. It has been described as deficiency or loss of artava, artava (Menstrual period) not appears in time or is delayed, is scanty and it does not last for three days.
Pain in vagina also can be seen. According to Ayurveda, Aartava-kshaya is a disorder involving Pitta and Kapha doshas, Medas, Ambu/Rasa, Shukra/Artava Dhatu and Rasa, Rakta, Artava Vaha Srotas. Therefore, Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome can also be described with same involvement of Dosha, Dhatu and Upadhatu Kapha predominance manifests as increased weight, subfertility, hirsutium, diabetic tendencies and coldness. Pitta predominance manifests as hair loss, acne, painful menses, clots and heart problems. Vata predominance manifests with painful menses, scanty or less menstrual blood and severe menstrual irregularity.
The pathology is an obstruction in the pelvic cavity (Apana Kshetra) causing disorders in the flow of Vata. This in turn leads to an accumulation of Kapha and Pitta.
The treatment principle is to clear obstruction in the pelvis, normalize metabolism and regulate the menstrual system (Aartava Dhatu). Kapha reducing, insulin enhancing and hormone rebalancing drugs help to the relieve symptoms of Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Since PCOD is a condition of Ama accumulation, the treatment should focus on Detoxification/Reduction or Shodana Chikitsa in order to remove the ama and get the doshas back into their original locations Therefore, Pancha Karma is indicated along with Agneya Chikitsa. Most importantly, the liver should be cleansed or tonified as it has a role in menstruation and hormone production
The treatment focuses on balancing the imbalances in the person and not on the treatment of the disease or its symptoms. For which Shamana Chikitsa (Palliative researched Ayurvedic medicines) and Rasayana Chikitsa (Rejuvenation). Diet restrictions, life style modifications, Stress Management are also the essential factors practiced for the best possible results.
Indeed, it is in the treatment of complex diseases such as PCOD that the gifts of Ayurveda can be truly appreciated.
At Vardhan Ayurveda Hospital, we are providing highly effective treatment for PCOD. We have experienced best treatment success rate in treating PCOS through Ayurveda.