17/07/2021 / Gynecology and Motherhood

PCOD VS PCOS- Differences, Causes, Symptoms, Effects, Diagnosis, Risks, and Treatments

PCOD stands for PolyCystic Ovarian Disease, while PCOS means PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome. Many of us get confused between the two and use both of these terms interchangeably. This article deals with the symptoms, causes, risks & treatments of both of them.

PCOD VS PCOS- Differences, Causes, Symptoms, Effects, Diagnosis, Risks, and Treatments
Mazia AhmedMazia Ahmed

Mazia Ahmed

MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar

Table of Contents


  • PCOD and PCOS: Are they different from each other? Many of us come across this question often and tend to get confused between the two and use both of these terms interchangeably. PCOD stands for PolyCystic Ovarian Disease, while PCOS means PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome. Although both of these health complications are of the human ovaries, which causes an imbalance in the hormonal system, they are different from each other through various aspects.

  • A pair of the ovaries is present in all females. Each ovary releases an egg every month. Along with the eggs, female hormones are also produced by the ovaries. These hormones regulate the menstruation cycle, fertility, facial hair, and many other things in a woman's body. A very small amount of male hormone androgens are also produced by the ovaries.  

What is PCOD?

PolyCystic Ovarian Disease is a health issue of women in which the partially mature or non-mature eggs present in an ovary eventually form cysts. The primary cause of this condition is overweight or obesity, consumption of unhealthy and junk food, hormonal imbalance, and being stressed. As a result, the ovaries became larger than normal in size and started secreting androgen hormone in large amounts. Thus, it adversely affects a woman's life, her body as well as fertility. The menstruation cycle is normal in PCOD; however, sometimes, the females experience delayed periods. It is usually detected when a female is not able to conceive despite trying.

5 Primary Symptoms of PCOD

5 Primary Symptoms of PCOD

1. Obesity and Weight-Gain in the Abdominal region

2. Irregular Periods

3. Heavy Bleeding at the time of Periods

4. Male pattern Hair Loss

5. Infertility

What is PCOS?

PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome is a metabolic disorder in which a higher amount of androgen is produced in the ovaries. This results in the formulation of dozens of ovarian cysts (liquid-filled sacs) in a female's body every month. The cysts are often large and made up of non-developed eggs and various other ovarian secretions. Girls suffering from PCOS have difficulty with their menstruation cycle. They experience irregular or non-reliable periods, delayed menstruation, and even no periods at all. This condition is more severe than PCOD. The formation of cysts at such a high rate also results in the cessation of the release of the eggs from the ovaries, which causes anovulation. It is usually detected at an early age.

11 Primary Symptoms of PCOS

1. Obesity

2. Irregular Menstruation Cycle

3. Amenorrhea (No Periods at all)

4. Infertility

5. Hair Loss/ Patches of Baldness

PCOS Symptoms,

6. Axillary Hair

7. Excessive Hair on the Face

8. Excessive Body Odor

9. Sleeping Disorder

10. Mood Swings

11. Anxiety or Depression

Effect of PCOD and PCOS

Ovarian cysts are formed in both cases. Apart from that, the male steroid hormone androgen is also produced in larger quantities. The secretion of androgen is such that it surpasses the production of the female hormone- estrogen. This, in turn, causes a lot of abnormalities in the overall body of a female. 

6 Major Differences between PCOD and PCOS

1. Seriousness: PCOD is usually not treated as a disease because it can be cured with the proper exercise schedule and specific diet. At the same time, PCOS is a metabolic disorder that is a grave condition.  

2. Prevalence: PCOD is more prevalent than PCOS. One-third of the women of the world have PCOD. 

3. Complications: PCOS is more complicated than PCOD. Females suffering from PCOS are prone to develop cardiovascular issues, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, or even endometrial cancer.

4. Visibility: The symptoms of PCOS are visible since the teenage years. Excessive body hairs, acne, and problems like weight gain are prominent from a young age only due to the disturbances in the overall metabolism.

5. Fertility: Women suffering from PCOD do not show considerable fertility complications. A little medical help is needed for them to conceive. On the other hand, those with PCOS deal with infertility and miscarriages.

6. Ovulation: Females with PCOD can ovulate normally over regular periods and can be pregnant without any problem. But the females suffering from PCOS cannot ovulate because of the disturbed hormonal secretion.

Causes of PCOD and PCOS

  • Researchers in the medical field are still trying to find out the major causes of PCOD as well as PCOS. One widely known cause of both of them is a person's genetic makeup. It is observed that any woman suffering from PCOD or PCOS has a family history.

  • Earlier, talking about reproductive health was considered taboo, and women don't talk about it. But now the awareness programs are going, and females have started talking about that. In India, only the people living in the cities know about it and talk about it. But in the rural areas, people don't even talk about periods.  

Diagnosis of PCOD and PCOS

  • No specific test has been designed yet to diagnose both PCOS and PCOD. The signs and symptoms of both PCOS and PCOD are very similar to other kinds of diseases. Even the diagnostic criteria are not specified yet. A very experienced gynecologist is needed to diagnose both of these conditions. A combination of clinical findings like family history, comorbidities, symptoms, physical examination as well as laboratory results is evaluated to state the disease. An ultrasound of the pelvic region is also recommended to know the size of the ovaries. Before finalizing any diagnostic statement, some lab tests are also done to cut off all the other possible causes that could result in similar signs and symptoms. These include tests for ovarian or adrenal tumors, adrenal tissue overgrowth (adrenal hyperplasia), etc., that can also result in excessive production of androgen in females.

  • If we talk about PCOS, two to three times enlarged ovaries are found to have more than twelve follicular cysts of 2-9 mm diameter in each ovary, while in PCOD, the ovaries do not necessarily become enlarged, but they also have five or six relatively small follicular cysts in each ovary. In addition, the cyst often forms a line on the periphery of both the ovaries that appears as a "pearl necklace." These changes are found in almost 90% of females suffering from PCOS, but they are also recorded in about 25% of females who do not show PCOS symptoms.   

5 Major Risks Involved

1. Infertility: As the ovulation frequency is reduced in the body of females suffering from PCOD, it can cause infertility. In contrast, the female suffering from PCOS may not be able to reproduce even after changing the lifestyle pattern.   

2. Diabetes: Both PCOS and PCOD result in insulin resistance which leads to diabetes.

3. Heart Disease: Both of these conditions cause hypertension which can lead to heart problems.

4. Endometrial Cancer: As the menstruation cycle is delayed, a thick endometrium lining is formed in the uterus, which elevates the chances of developing endometrial cancer. The chance of getting endometrial cancer is higher in PCOS as compared to PCOD.

5. Effect on Mental Health: The disturbances in the secretion of hormones can cause mood swings, depression, anxiety, and behavioral changes in females. When the disease is diagnosed, then also women get depressed, disturbed, and deeply saddened. 

7 Effective Treatments for PCOD and PCOS

PCOS cannot be treated and cured, and it even does not subside on its own. In many cases, PCOD has been treated completely, but there is always a chance of getting it back. The treatment procedures just include reducing the complications and treating the symptoms. Various options are available now. Depending upon the severity of the symptoms and the desire to get pregnant, a woman can choose one of the many options for her treatment. 

1. Lifestyle Changes: Specific diet, proper exercise, maintaining ideal body weight, etc., are recommended for a woman suffering from PCOD and PCOS. These all help in lowering insulin resistance.

2. Weight Control: Reducing one's weight and maintaining an ideal body weight helps decrease testosterone, insulin, and luteinizing hormone (LH).

3. Healthy Eating: Getting a proper well-balanced and PCOD/PCOS specific diet and regular exercise helps maintain hypertension and cholesterol. It also helps in treating sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea. 

Healthy Eating Habits

4. Say NO to Alcohol and Cigarettes: Cutting down the consumption of alcohol and quitting cigarettes and other tobacco products are effective for lowering down the levels of androgens. 

5. Drugs and Medications: Doctors recommend a number of drugs and medications to treat diabetes and insulin resistance. Some drugs are also prescribed for encouraging the process of ovulation and the menstruation cycle to occur regularly. Retinoic acid and antibiotics are recommended for treating acne. Some doctors also prescribe oral contraceptive pills to help normalize the menstruation cycle. Certain hormonal medicines are also prescribed to check the level of androgen hormone. It must be noted that these medicines should always be taken by consulting a specialized doctor and not on our own.

6. Self-Grooming: To remove the excess body and facial hair, many options such as shaving, waxing, electrolysis, depilatory, laser hair removal, etc., are available now.

7. Homeopathy: Treating PCOD/PCOS with homeopathy does not cure it completely. But it is an effective way to prevent further health complications. Homeopathic treatment is effective in regularizing ovulation, balancing the hormonal secretion, restoring the normal menstruation cycle, etc. Some homeopathy medicines also claim to dissolve the follicular cysts that eventually eliminate the need for all the other treatment procedures such as surgery or hormonal therapy.

Word of Wisdom

It is challenging for a woman with PCOS/PCOD to conceive and deliver normally. Still, regular consultation with gynecologists can always be done to know the new technological advancements in this field. For PCOD, it is relatively easy if healthy lifestyles are followed. At last, both males and females should remember and make others realize that any disease is harmful to us, and we must talk about them. Consulting a good gynecologist for your problem is an entirely normal and necessary thing to do.


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