Polycystic ovarian disease commonly known as PCOD is one among the common diseases, affecting the female population in today’s scenario. Studies say that 1 in 10 women are affected by PCOD in their child bearing age. PCOD is also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome. The diseases is treatable in Ayurveda with the support of healthy living habits.
What is PCOD?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a disease in females caused due to hormonal imbalance of – estrogen and progesterone. These hormones creates disturbances in the ovaries blocking the release of egg during the ovulation.
The HPO axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian) synchronizes and regulates the reproductive competence in women. The HPO axis is responsible for the hormonal as well as the neuronal changes that takes place in the female body. Primary symptom is excess androgen and ovulatory dysfunction. These symptoms disrupts the normal functioning of HPO axis. The persistent signs of hyperandogenism is linked with the hypothalamic-pituitary feedback, anovulation, and aberrant oocyte maturation.
In PCOS, the ovary presents with many minute cysts by excess production of androgens, by irregular periods or absence of periods (i.e. amenorrhea). The disease usually develops during the early pubertal years. However it is common in adult woman as well. The failure to ovulate is the most common cause of female infertility and can occur for no apparent reason or as a result of stress, hormonal imbalances and various diseases of reproductive system.
• Genetic History: If there is a history of PCOD problem in the family, the future generations are also more likely to get affected.
• Excess Androgen: Androgen or testosterone the male hormone if excessively produced, blocks the release of ovum. This leads to chronic anovulation and results in poly cysts on the ovary.
• Insulin resistance: Various studies reported women with PCOD has insulin resistance, which means the cells cannot utilize the insulin properly. When the cells fails to utilize the insulin, the body has a high demand for insulin secretion. Pancreas secrete more insulin to compensate the needs of the body. Excess insulin in the ovaries leads to Hyperinsulinemia and produce more male hormones.
• Obesity is another major cause of insulin resistance. This can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes.
• Inflammation: Most cases of PCOD shows high inflammation the body. This is also linked to excess androgen levels in the body.
• Irregular periods: Due to anovulation, the uterine lining doesn’t shed every month. So it stops the bleeding.
• Severe menstrual bleeding: Due to irregular menstruation, the uterine lining build up without shedding for a long period of time and then results in heavy bleeding than normal
• Hirsutism: more than 70% of women experience with excess hair growth in the face and body. Hair growth will be more in the areas of belly, back and chest
• Acne: Acne is very common in PCOD. The skin becomes more oiler than usual and causes breakouts on upper back, face and chest
• Weight gain: 80% cases occur with obesity or excess weight
• Severe hair fall: PCOD patients suffer from hair fall. The hair thinning happens and in some cases male pattern baldness is observed
• Skin darkening: Big dark patches on the neck, groin, and under the breast is another symptom
• Headaches: Due to enormous hormonal changes women tends to get headache often.
• Skin tags: Skin tag appears due to flaps in the armpit or neck area
PCOD cannot be diagnosed in a single test
• Doctors do thorough physical examination like Blood pressure, BMI, skin discoloration, hirsutism, hair loss etc.
• Pelvic exam helps to find out any signs of enlarged ovary and enlarged clitoris
• Pelvic ultrasound: USG helps to find out the multiple cysts and check the endometrial lining of the uterus
• Blood tests can be done check the reproductive hormonal levels in the body, Thyroid hormones, diabetes, and cholesterol level of the body.
These tests with the clinical parameters helps to diagnose the disease.
Ayurveda groups PCOD as a disease due to Kapha and Vata vitiation which leads to imbalance in ovulation. Kapha also effects the Agni (digestive fire) and slows down the metabolism of the body. As a result the dhatus do not get proper nourishment and their activities get affected. In PCOD – Rasa which constitute of the plasma and lymphatic system, Medho dhatu i.e. the adipose tissue and the Arthava (female reproductive system) the upadathu of rasa get affected. Ama (the undigested food) enters the cells of atharva dhatu and derange the pittarangi which leads to the malfunction of the system.
Management of PCOD is possible in Ayurveda with the help of panchakarma therapies like Vamana, Virechana followed by Basti. Uttarabasti is also adopted to treat PCOD along with medications.
• Diet with less glycemic index should be taken. Food with low GL include – whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.
• Do not skip meals to reduce weight.
• Eat enough healthy fats and reduce intake of carbohydrates
Foods to avoid
• Food that increase the blood sugar levels in the body should be strictly restricted. Reduce the consumption of White rice, mashed potatoes, muffins and cakes, breads, etc.
• Reduce the use of dairy Products: Milk leads to a rise in testosterone levels in the body, which can further trouble the disease PCOD.
• Soy Products: Soy is said to delay ovulation and should not be used by females who want to conceive.
• Bad Fats: Bad fats found in red meat, cooking oil, and processed foods increase the chances of obesity and in turn, worsens the condition of PCOD.