More often we pass off our mood swings and behavioral changes as ‘that time of the month’. But what if it isn’t due to that? What if our body is attempting to convey an important message that we continue to ignore under the garb of PMS?
PMS v/s PCOD
PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome refers to the set of collective signs that your body exhibits before the onset of your menstrual cycle. It varies from woman to woman but general signs include mood swings, cramps, bloating, tenderness of the breasts etc. With such a wide array of different symptoms women often tend to label every unsettling occurrence as PMS. And that is where we go wrong. The symptoms above may also be pointing to more serious problems like PCOD, PCOS, endometriosis, and other disorders.
PCOD or PCOS refers to a disorder which entails the growth of cysts in your ovaries due to hormonal imbalances. It is one of the disorders that mimic and aggravate the symptoms you experience during PMS. For example, the intensity of abdominal pain, breast tenderness or appearance of acne might be more in comparison to someone not suffering from the disease.
While PCOD is a direct result of hormonal imbalances in the body, the exact cause of PMS is unknown, although a change in hormones is considered one of the reasons. As a more serious disease, the presence of PCOD triggers certain changes in the body which get magnified just before your menstrual cycle. Therefore, if you are experiencing symptoms that intensify before your periods or persist throughout the month, a visit to the gynaecologist is recommended. For more clarity, below are the symptoms of the two disorders.
SYMPTOMS OF PMS
Physical Symptoms: Abdominal bloating, diarrhoea, sore breasts, bloating, fatigue, food cravings, acne, headaches, backache, temporary weight gain, nausea.
Mood Swings: Irritability, anger, frustration, depression, nervousness, feeling sad or helpless.
Mental Symptoms: Tension
SYMPTOMS OF PCOD
Period related: Irregular periods, heavy bleeding.
Physical: Excessive hair growth on the body along, male pattern baldness, acne, weight management problems, dark patches on the skin, pain in the pelvis.
Mental Symptoms: Anxiety, depression, stress, eating disorders.
Resistance to insulin.
CAUSES OF PCOD
• The inability of the cells to use insulin which leads to excess insulin production and affects the ovaries ability to make eggs.
• Although no direct link has been found between overweight women and PCOS, it is a proven fact that being heavy affects the insulin resistance of the body.
It is possible that you are suffering from PCOD without exhibiting the symptoms. The doctor may use one or all of the following tests to diagnose your condition.
- Blood Test: Since PCOD is associated with increased production of androgens or the male hormone, a test for checking levels of testosterone will generally be performed. Some other tests may also be advised to eliminate the possibility of other diseases with similar symptoms. Sometimes, the doctor may also perform other tests like cholesterol, diabetes, and triglycerides etc.
- Pelvic exam: By physically examining your pelvic region, the doctor is able to detect any abnormal growth in the uterus or ovaries.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound of the uterus will give the doctor a clear view of the presence of cysts or any other growth in the ovaries.
For women who are sexually active, a trans-vaginal test is a more accurate and radiation-free option as compared to ultrasound.
EFFECTS OF PCOD
Depending on how far the disease has progressed, it can have the following detrimental effects on your body:
- Difficulty in getting pregnant – Because of its impact on ovulation, the release of eggs is impacted during PCOS. This reduces your chances of pregnancy.
- Increased risk of other diseases – Women suffering from PCOD are susceptible to Type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart diseases.
- Endometrial cancer – With a regular menstrual cycle, the shedding of the uterus lining occurs on its own. In the absence of periods, this lining can continue to form and become thick, which in turn might lead to endometrial cancer.
What makes PCOD more harmful is that there is no cure for this disorder. However, you can manage and control the disease with medication and by making certain lifestyle changes.
- Medical treatment: In most cases, women are advised to take birth control pills in order to balance the hormones and thereby regularize the menstrual cycle. In addition, the doctor may also put you on drugs to help manage insulin or cholesterol depending on your assessment. These cures only aim at addressing the symptoms of the disease and often the relief is temporary. The condition tends to resurface after every few years.
- Lifestyle Changes: The second option is to introduce some healthy changes to your lifestyle. Regular exercise and eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is said to have a positive effect on curing PCOD. Consult the doctor on the diet best for your body type.
Besides losing weight overall, try to focus on the abdominal area because the weight there is what promotes insulin resistance which in turn triggers PCOD. Exercising is also helpful as it releases endorphins or feel-good chemicals which alleviate stress and anxiety. Do not limit exercise to a sport or visiting the gym, any physical activity that gets the heart pumping (like car-wash, gardening etc) is good enough!
- Surgery: If your PCOD has advanced to a later stage then the doctor may advise surgery to treat it. Ovarian drilling is a procedure most commonly advised for PCOD and involves drilling small holes in the ovary with the help of a laser or a needle. In some cases, removal of the ovaries or uterus is also suggested.
So there, we have tried to cover all that you need to know about PCOD in order to make a personal diagnosis and begin your treatment. If you think you have similar symptoms, consult a doctor immediately to catch it in the early stages.