PCOD vs PCOS: Symptoms, Causes, Differences and Natural Treatments

PCOD or PCOS is a condition that affects women’s ovaries, the reproductive organs responsible for producing progesterone and estrogen, which regulate the menstrual cycle. They also produce small amounts of inhibin, relaxin, and androgens (male hormones).

Nearly 10% of women worldwide suffer from PCOD. In contrast to PCOD, women with PCOS produce higher-than-normal levels of male hormones. This hormonal imbalance can cause missed menstrual periods and make it harder to conceive.

In addition to hormonal irregularities, this condition can lead to:

  • Diabetes
  • Infertility
  • Acne
  • Excessive hair growth

Although PCOS is fairly common, there is no definitive cure.

What is PCOD? 

What is PCOD

PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) is a condition where a woman's ovaries produce a large number of immature or partially mature eggs that eventually turn into cysts. This causes the ovaries to enlarge and secrete high levels of male hormones (androgens), leading to infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, hair loss, and abnormal weight gain. PCOD can be managed through diet and lifestyle changes.

What is PCOS?

What is PCOS

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a metabolic disorder that causes hormonal imbalance in women during their reproductive years, typically between ages 12 and 51. Elevated levels of male hormones can lead to skipped menstrual periods, irregular ovulation, difficulty conceiving, and abnormal hair growth on the body and face. In the long term, PCOS can also increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Proper medical attention or surgical treatment is often necessary for managing this serious medical condition.

Many women may have PCOD/PCOS without realizing it. Symptoms that affect ovulation and ovaries include ovarian cysts, increased levels of male hormones, and skipped or irregular periods.

What are the common signs and symptoms of PCOD / PCOS?

Some women begin to notice symptoms of PCOD or PCOS around the time of their first period, while others may only become aware when they gain a significant amount of weight or have difficulty getting pregnant. The most common signs and symptoms of PCOD or PCOS in women include:

  • Irregular menstruation (Oligomenorrhea)
  • Skipped or absent menstruation (Amenorrhea)
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding (Menorrhagia)
  • Excessive hair growth on the face and body (including the back, belly, and chest)
  • Acne (on the face, chest, and upper back)
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss (thinning hair on the scalp)
  • Darkened skin (on the neck, in the groin, and under the breasts)

Causes of PCOS

The exact cause of PCOS is not fully understood, but several significant factors may contribute:

  • Excess insulin production: High insulin levels can increase androgen production (male hormones present in small amounts in women), leading to ovulation issues.
  • Excess androgen production: The ovaries may produce unusually high levels of androgens, causing acne and hirsutism (excess hair growth on the face and body).
  • Low-grade inflammation: Research suggests that women with PCOS often have low-grade inflammation, which can raise androgen levels and contribute to heart and blood vessel problems.
  • Heredity: There is a genetic component to PCOS, indicating that it can run in families.

Complications of PCOS/PCOD

Higher-than-normal androgen levels can affect your health in various ways, requiring medical attention. Complications include:

  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Infertility or hypertension
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Preterm labor and premature birth
  • Metabolic syndrome (increased risk of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke)
  • NASH (Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis)
  • Depression and anxiety (often due to unwanted hair growth and other symptoms)
  • Sleep apnea (more common in overweight women, causing repeated pauses in breathing during sleep)
  • Endometrial cancer (due to thickened uterine lining)
  • Miscarriage (spontaneous loss of pregnancy)

Difference between PCOD and PCOS

Many women might be confused about whether PCOD and PCOS are the same or different conditions. Both are related to the ovaries and hormonal imbalances in women during their reproductive years (ages 12 to 51) and exhibit similar symptoms. Here are the key differences between PCOD and PCOS that every woman should know:



PCOD is a common disorder affecting about 10% of the world’s female population.

PCOS is a more serious medical condition, affecting about 0.2% to 2.5% of the world’s female population.

PCOD involves the ovaries producing many immature or partially mature eggs, often due to poor lifestyle, obesity, stress, and hormonal imbalance.

PCOS is a metabolic disorder and a more severe form of PCOD, leading to anovulation where the ovaries stop releasing eggs.

PCOD doesn’t significantly affect fertility. Women with PCOD can still ovulate and become pregnant with minimal assistance, and medication can help carry the pregnancy to term.

PCOS severely impacts fertility. Women with PCOS do not ovulate regularly, making it difficult to conceive. If they do become pregnant, there is a higher risk of miscarriage, premature birth, or other complications.

PCOD doesn’t have serious long-term complications.

PCOS can lead to serious complications such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and endometrial cancer in later stages.

For both conditions, weight loss, a healthy diet, avoiding junk and processed foods, and regular exercise have proven effective. Early diagnosis helps in managing the conditions. If you experience skipped or irregular periods, acne, or hair growth on your back or face, consult a gynecologist for a check-up.

Diagnosis of PCOD / PCOS

PCOD or PCOS can affect various body systems and is diagnosed through blood tests and imaging. If you have symptoms like irregular periods, unwanted male-pattern hair growth on your chest, face, and back, acne, or thinning scalp hair, your gynecologist will inquire about your medical history, eating and drinking habits, and any medications, vitamins, or supplements you are taking.

To diagnose PCOD or PCOS, a gynecologist may recommend:

  • Pelvic examination: Physically checking the reproductive organs for masses, abnormalities, or any growths.
  • Blood tests: These help understand hormone levels and may include a fasting lipid profile (to check levels of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)) and glucose tolerance tests.
  • Imaging tests: Ultrasound to check the size of the ovaries, the lining of the uterus, and for cysts in the ovaries.

Additionally, the gynecologist might recommend further tests to check for complications, which may include:

  • Periodic monitoring of blood pressure, glucose tolerance, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
  • Screening for anxiety and depression.
  • Screening for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Lifestyle Modifications and Home Remedies for PCOD / PCOS

PCOD / PCOS primarily affects hormonal balance in women. The following steps can help reduce androgen levels in the body:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight: A BMI (body mass index) of 18.5 - 24.9 is considered ideal and healthy for women. A BMI above 30 is considered obese and unhealthy. Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight can improve cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, and help regulate insulin and androgen levels, restoring ovulation. Consult a dietitian for a weight-loss program to achieve a healthy BMI.
  • Limiting carbohydrate consumption: Follow a low-carb or complex carbohydrate diet to maintain insulin levels. Eat fish, meat, eggs, vegetables that grow above ground, and natural fats (like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and butter). Avoid sugar and starchy foods (like potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and beans).
  • Regular exercise and physical activity: Regular exercise and staying active can help regulate blood sugar levels and keep your weight under control.

7 Natural Treatments for PCOS


Berberine for pcos

Berberine is a compound extracted from plants and has shown several benefits in PCOS:

  • Increase rates of pregnancy
  • Improve insulin resistance
  • Reduce male sex hormone levels
  • Reduce inflammation

Some healthcare providers recommend combining berberine with metformin or other diabetic medications for an additive effect, enhancing their effectiveness when used together.


Chromium for pcos

Chromium is a naturally occurring element that aids in metabolic functions. Dietary sources of chromium are poorly absorbed, but supplementation, particularly with chromium picolinate, improves insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. Chromium also supports weight loss and increases ovulation.



Inositol, naturally present in the body, assists insulin in managing blood sugar. Supplementation with Myo and D-chiro-Inositol has shown benefits in PCOS, including improved insulin resistance and hormone level balance. It's recommended as an alternative or supplement to conventional medical treatments for insulin resistance, menstrual regulation, and fertility.

Probiotics and Synbiotics

Probiotics and Synbiotics

Probiotics and synbiotics provide beneficial bacteria that regulate gut function and overall inflammation. By reducing inflammation, these supplements may aid in hormonal balance and fertility in PCOS.

Weight Loss

Weight Loss

Weight and PCOS have a complex relationship, but weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet are crucial for managing symptoms and potential complications. Weight loss can alleviate complications such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, sleep apnea, and fatty liver disease associated with PCOS.


A healthy, balanced diet can help mitigate hormone changes in PCOS. Focus on foods low in glycemic index and high in fiber content to stabilize blood glucose and insulin levels. Dr. Kelley recommends a diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, processed foods, and simple sugars, while being rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy proteins.


While some believe acupuncture may increase ovulation in PCOS, evidence supporting its efficacy is lacking. Further research is needed to establish its benefits for ovulation and fertility in PCOS.

Key Takeaways

Managing PCOS involves a multifaceted approach incorporating lifestyle modifications, dietary adjustments, and potential supplementation. While various interventions such as berberine, chromium, inositol, probiotics, and weight loss have shown promise in alleviating symptoms and improving outcomes, individual responses may vary. Additionally, the importance of a balanced diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight cannot be overstated in the management of PCOS. Further research is needed to better understand the efficacy of interventions like acupuncture in PCOS treatment.

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