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Identifying signs of PCOD
Have you been struggling with skin problems of late, coupled with irregular periods? Do you also find yourself depressed often? Your symptoms could point to a rather common condition – polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD).

PCOD, also called polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, is one of the most common disorders caused by hormonal disturbances among women. And it does more that trigger a range of unpleasant symptoms mentioned above. In its severe form it can even result in infertility.

Excess insulin production
The main characteristic of PCOD – which also gives it its name – is the occurrence of cysts in the ovaries. Under normal circumstances, women develop about five follicles (sacs containing the eggs) during their menstrual cycle; at least one of these releases a mature egg at the time of ovulation. However, in PCOD, a surplus number of follicles are formed. These fail to develop normally – so that they are never released – and instead go on to form cysts in the ovary.

What exactly causes polycystic ovarian disease is not known. Medical experts believe that it could be the result of extra insulin produced by the pancreas. They believe that the excess production of hormones such as androgen and luteinizing hormone (or LH, important for reproduction) resulting from this causes hormonal imbalance, leading to PCOD.

From almost 22 to 33 percent of women who suffer from polycystic ovaries (having numerous cysts), only about 5 to 15 percent actually get PCOD. However, the condition is believed to be more common among Asian women. Also, if you have a history of polycystic ovaries in your family, you may need to be more careful – your likelihood of getting the condition will be 50 percent higher.

Skin problems and depression
While you are most likely to develop PCOD soon after puberty, you may also find signs of the condition appearing much later. You may find yourself plagued by a variety of skin infections including acne or reddening, flaking or itching of your skin. You may also notice that you are losing hair on your head. Some women also experience an abnormal growth of facial or body hair, very similar to men.

You may also notice other apparently unrelated symptoms like irregularities in your menstrual cycle and a tendency to put on weight. When accompanied by depression it is another indication that you could be suffering from PCOD.

So what should you do if you find that you have some of the above described symptoms? The best option would be to consult your doctor immediately. Your doctor will evaluate your history and carry out an examination. He may also refer you to certain medical tests – such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and blood and thyroid function tests – to arrive at a diagnosis.

Unchecked, PCOD could lead to some serious complications including type II diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, infertility, stroke or cancer. Getting a competent diagnosis done, thus, helps you to start treatment in time to prevent these complications.

Starting treatment
If you have been diagnosed with PCOD, your doctor will start you on appropriate treatment plan. This will usually involve medication aim to lower your insulin levels, relieve some of the unpleasant symptoms, and address some of the resulting complications such as infertility.

Apart from the medication, lifestyle changes are an important part of the effective management of PCOD. For instance, you will benefit by adopting a diet that is rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber to help regularize your blood sugar and insulin levels. A balanced diet, along with regular exercise, is also important to ensure that you lose weight. Maintaining an ideal bodyweight is important to stabilize insulin production, as well as stimulate ovulation and improve your chances of conceiving.

While PCOD is common, timely treatment and adequate care can help you to beat this condition and live a normal life.

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