PCOD : A concern for young girls -If it isn’t treated in time it can lead to serious health problems

 Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD), an ailment dealing with hormonal imbalance, has become a major concern among several women today. This is when patients have multiple small cysts in their ovaries. The ovary is enlarged and it produces excessive androgen and estrogenic hormones leading to several bodily issues.

“Today one out of every 10th girl is suffering from PCOD.” statistics reveals.

PCOD is a medical condition of hormonal imbalance with the symptoms like menstrual irregularity, acne, insulin resistance and obesity. Insulin resistance is a condition when the insulin (a hormone secreted by the pancreas) becomes sensitive thereby not responding to the sudden spike in the blood glucose levels.

As a result, there are chances of the individual to suffer from diabetes or glucose intolerance. Apart from this one can also face several other symptoms as well, such as extra hair on the face and body, excessive weight fain, hair fall and thinning of hair strands and infertility due to lack of ovulation and many more.

Some of the most common signs include:

Irregular periods – periods that come every few months, not at all, or too frequently

Hirsutism – extra hair on the face or other body parts

Weight gain and/or trouble losing weight, and in some cases, obesity

Patches of dark skin on the back of the neck and other areas, called “acanthosis nigricans”

Infertility or impaired fertility due to irregular periods or lack of ovulation

Other less common signs/symptoms may include:

Hair thinning (on the top of the head)

Skin tags under the armpits or neck area

High total cholesterol and/or low HDL “good cholesterol”

High blood pressure

Pre-diabetes or in some cases, diabetes

Process of Diagnosing-

If you have 2 or more of the above symptoms, U might have PCOD. There can be other reasons for these symptoms and therefore only a health care provider can tell for sure. If you or your daughter is distressed about the symptoms she is experiencing, you should make an appointment to be evaluated by primary care provider.  After an initial evaluation is completed, you may be referred to an adolescent gynecologist, adolescent medicine specialist, or an endocrinologist for further testing.

Causes of PCOD :

PCOD is caused by an imbalance in the hormones secreted by the pituitary gland that in turn affects the ovaries. Many girls with PCOD also have higher than normal levels of insulin from the pancreas. PCOS usually happens when the luteinizing hormone (LH) levels or the insulin levels are too high, which then causes the ovaries to make extra amounts of testosterone.

Will it affect fertility ?

Women with PCOD have a normal uterus and healthy eggs. Many women with PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (because they don’t ovulate regularly), but some women have no trouble at all. There are new options available including medications that aim to lower insulin levels, which stimulate ovulation. Girls with PCOS should talk to their primary care provider even if they are not interested in becoming pregnant right away. There are several medical therapies that are available to enhance fertility.

You should be reassured by health care provider that good nutrition, weight control if you are overweight, and reducing insulin and glucose levels may induce normal ovulation and, in turn, improve your fertility outcome. Medical treatment continues to get better.

Treatment options for girls with PCOD

The most common form of treatment for PCOD is the birth control pill; however, other kinds of hormonal therapy may include the “vaginal ring” and “the patch”. Even if a young woman is not sexually active, her health care provider may prescribe birth control pills because they contain the hormones that her body needs to treat her PCOD. The birth control pill may be prescribed continuously (one pill is taken every day without any breaks) or cyclically (1 hormone pill is taken for 21 days then a placebo or “remember” pill with no hormones is taken for 7 days).

The birth control pill works by:

Correcting the hormone imbalance
Lowering the level of testosterone (which will improve acne and lessen hair growth)
Regulating menstrual periods
Lowering the risk of endometrial cancer (which is slightly higher in young women who don’t ovulate regularly)
Preventing an unplanned pregnancy, if she is sexually active.

While there is no miracle-cure for PCOD, it can be treated. A healthy lifestyle that includes nutritious foods and daily exercise can have a profound and positive effect on the endocrine system, particularly in cases when a young woman is overweight or obese. Studies have shown that losing even 5% of body weight in overweight and obese women with PCOD can eliminate some of the symptoms associated with this disorder. Although there are some young women with PCOD who are either underweight or average weight, some find that they gain weight easily, so for them daily exercise is a way to be proactive about their health.

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