Posted by Dr. Ranjani Karthik
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder in females of reproductive age. It affects one in ten women worldwide, and around one in five in India. (20%).
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD) are often used interchangeably. Despite the fact that they have similarities, like being related to the ovaries and causing hormonal imbalances, they are not the same and are a bit different.
While both these conditions often exhibit similar symptoms such as male pattern hair loss, acne, abdominal weight gain, irregular periods, PCOS is a more serious condition. It is the leading cause of female infertility. PCOD does not always lead to infertility in women.
It’s also important to note that some women with PCOD/ PCOS may experience symptoms that go unnoticed or are misdiagnosed. If left untreated, these conditions can affect your ability to conceive and increase your risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure cardio-vascular issues, obesity, and in some cases even endometrial cancer. Hence, getting timely treatment for these conditions is not an option, but an absolute necessity.
While there is no cure for PCOS in modern medicine, early diagnosis and the effective ayurvedic treatment can offer the best outcome and also help prevent long-term health problems.
Ayurvedic Management for PCOS / PCOD
Ayurveda applies a holistic approach for managing PCOS. Personalized Ayurvedic treatment focuses on the root cause of the condition, thereby helping correct hormonal imbalances, and preventing the complications arising due to PCOS and PCOD.
According to Ayurveda, PCOS/ PCOD can be caused due to an imbalance of any of the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) with predominance of one of the three doshas, depending on the symptoms that manifest in each patient. A comprehensive ayurvedic disease management is done based on which dosha is involved.
The holistic approach of ayurveda makes use of oral medications, changes in lifestyle habits, and complementary therapies, such as yoga and breathing exercises to treat PCOD/PCOS. This helps to bring back and maintain a balance of hormones in the body, which promotes overall health and wellness. In certain cases, the treatment may include detox therapies like panchakarma.
Ayurvedic treatment for PCOS focuses on several key areas, including:
- Correcting hormonal imbalances. Ayurvedic remedies aim to regulate hormones such as insulin and testosterone, which are often imbalance in women with PCOS.
- Managing obesity and insulin resistance: Obesity and insulin resistance are often associated with PCOS, and Ayurvedic treatment aims to address these issues through diet and lifestyle changes.
- Strengthening and revitalizing the female reproductive system: Ayurvedic remedies aim to improve the overall health and functioning of the female reproductive system to enhance fertility.
- Reducing stress: Stress can trigger hormonal imbalances and exacerbate the symptoms of PCOS, so Ayurvedic treatments aim to reduce stress through yoga, meditation, and other stress-management techniques.
- Ayurvedic detoxification of the body: In certain cases, Ayurvedic detoxification, known as Panchakarma (a five-step purification process) is recommended, that aims to cleanse the body and restore balance to the doshas.
- Promoting overall health: Ayurvedic treatments also aim to improve lifestyle habits, such as diet and yoga, to promote overall health and wellness.
It’s important to remember that each woman’s experience with PCOS is unique, and that the best approach to treatment may vary from person to person and is individualized for better results.
What is PCOD?
PCOD is when your ovaries release a large number of immature or partially mature eggs, which can go on to develop into cysts (little sacs filled with liquid). Due to this, the ovaries usually become enlarged and secrete higher than normal amounts of male hormones (androgens) which leads to symptoms like male pattern hair loss, acne, abdominal weight gain, irregular periods, and in certain extreme cases, even infertility.
What is PCOS?
When you have PCOS, your ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgens (male sex hormones) which increases the risk of excessive cyst formation in the ovaries. This causes your reproductive hormones to become imbalanced leading to irregular or prolonged menstrual periods, excessive body hair, acne and hair loss, infertility along with increased risk of developing metabolic diseases.
What are the common signs and symptoms of PCOS/PCOD?.
Some women with PCOD or PCOS have mild symptoms, while others have more severe symptoms that impact their daily life. It’s also worth noting that many women with these conditions go undiagnosed for years because they do not have any symptoms or they have symptoms that are attributed to other conditions.
The common signs and symptoms of PCOS/PCOD include:
Irregular menstrual cycles: Women with Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD) often experience irregular menstrual cycles. This can mean that their periods may be lighter or heavier, longer or shorter, or come more or less frequently than normal. Hormonal imbalances in women with PCOD can lead to an increase in androgens (male hormones), which can interfere with the normal functioning of the ovaries and disrupt the menstrual cycle.
Excess hair growth: PCOS/PCOD can cause excessive hair growth on the face, chest, and back, a condition known as hirsutism.
Hair loss: Hair on the scalp gets thinner and fall out.
Acne and oiliness: The hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS/PCOD can increase the production of androgens, male hormones that can stimulate the oil glands in the skin and lead to an increase in oil production. This can result in clogged pores and the development of acne. In addition, high levels of insulin, which are often seen in women with PCOS/PCOD, can also contribute to acne.
- Weight gain: PCOS/PCOD can cause weight gain, especially in the abdominal area.
- Dark skin patches: Women with PCOS/PCOD may develop dark, velvety patches of skin on the neck, groin, or underarms, a condition known as acanthosis nigricans.
- Infertility: Both PCOS and PCOD have infertility as a shared side effect, but not to the same extent. While PCOS is the leading cause of female infertility, PCOD does not lead to infertility in all women.
- Mood changes: Having PCOS/ PCOD can increase the likelihood of mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
The exact cause of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is not fully understood, but several factors are thought to contribute to its development, including:
Hormonal Imbalance: PCOS is associated with an excess of androgens (male hormones) and an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone in women. This can disrupt ovulation and lead to the formation of cysts on the ovaries.
Insulin Resistance: Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, which means their cells are less responsive to insulin and require more insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Increased insulin levels cause the ovaries to make and release excess male hormones(androgens). Increased male hormone, in turn, suppresses ovulation and contributes to other symptoms of PCOS. Being overweight or obese can also contribute to insulin resistance.
Low-grade Inflammation: Chronic low-grade inflammation has been linked to the development of PCOS and may play a role in its development.
Genetics: PCOS has a strong genetic component and is often seen in families.
Other factors. Factors such as obesity, stress, and lack of physical activity may also contribute to the development of PCOS.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
The diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) typically involves the following steps:
- Medical History: Your doctor will take a detailed medical history, including information about your menstrual cycle, weight changes, and other symptoms.
- Physical Examination: Your doctor will perform a physical examination to check for signs of hirsutism (excessive hair growth), acne, and weight gain.
- Blood Tests: Your doctor may order blood tests to measure hormone levels, check for insulin resistance, and evaluate kidney and liver function.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound can help your doctor visualize the ovaries and look for the characteristic cysts associated with PCOS.
Complications of PCOD/ PCOS
- Infertility: Women with PCOS have a higher risk of infertility due to irregular menstrual cycles and anovulation (absence of ovulation).
- Metabolic Disorders: PCOS is often associated with insulin resistance and metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and obesity.
- Cardiovascular Disease: Women with PCOS have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
- Endometrial Hyperplasia: Unopposed estrogen can lead to endometrial hyperplasia, a condition in which the endometrial lining of the uterus becomes thick, increasing the risk of endometrial cancer.
- Depression and Anxiety: Women with PCOS often experience symptoms of depression and anxiety due to the physical symptoms and psychological impact of the condition.
- Sleep Apnea: PCOS has been linked to an increased risk of developing sleep apnea, a condition in which a person stops breathing for short periods during sleep.
- Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH): NASH is a type of liver disease that can develop in women with PCOS who have insulin resistance and are overweight or obese.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a complex condition and requires timely treatment. PCOS is not curable with allopathic medicines. Western or Allopathic medicine typically focuses on managing the symptoms of PCOS with a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and weight management programs. Hormonal therapy and birth control pills are commonly used to regulate menstrual cycles and improve fertility in women with PCOS.
Ayurvedic medicine, on the other hand, emphasizes the balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Ayurvedic treatment for PCOS typically involves a holistic approach that considers not just the physical symptoms but also the mental, emotional, and lifestyle factors, which can help address the root cause of the PCOS and promotes overall health and wellness.
- Can I have PCOS but not have any symptoms?
Yes, it is possible to have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) but not have any symptoms. Some women with PCOS have mild symptoms, while others have more severe symptoms that impact their daily life. The severity and specific symptoms of PCOS can vary from woman to woman and may change over time.
- Can I still get pregnant if I have PCOS?
Getting pregnant with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can be a challenge, but it is possible. PCOS affects the ovaries and disrupts ovulation, which can make it difficult to conceive. However, with proper ayurvedic treatment and management, most women with PCOS are able to conceive and have healthy pregnancies.
- How is PCOS/ PCOD treated with ayurveda at UWAY?
At UWAY, the ayurvedic treatment for PCOS/PCOD may include ayurvedic oral medications, dietary changes, and lifestyle modifications such as stress management and exercise. In certain cases, Panchakarma therapy may also be needed in the treatment regimen.
- What is panchakarma?
Panchakarma, which typically involves a series of five therapies, is a type of Ayurvedic therapy used for cleansing and detoxifying the body. It is a holistic approach to health that aims to restore balance to the body and mind by removing accumulated toxins (known as “ama” in Ayurveda).
- When can I observe improvement with ayurvedic treatment for PCOS at UWAY?
The recovery period for PCOS with Ayurvedic can vary depending on the chronicity or severity of the condition, your prevailing symptoms, as well as your response to the treatment. An improvement in the overall condition can be perceived around 6 to 8 weeks of treatment.
- Is there a cure for PCOS with ayurvedic treatment at UWAY?
Early detection and management offer the best outcome in PCOS.
With 3 to 6 months of ayurvedic treatment at UWAY, your PCOS problem can be cured.
- What is the average duration of ayurvedic treatment for PCOS at UWAY?
Average duration of the treatment for PCOS, with ayurveda may vary from 3 to 6 months.
- Do the Ayurveda medicines used at UWAY for the treatment of PCOS/ PCOD cause side-effects?
Ayurveda medications are usually a very safe and effective option for treating PCOD/PCOS. Ayurvedic medicines are made of time-tested natural herbs and substances that are the gift of nature to mankind.
At UWAY, our doctors prescribe only proven medicines from well-established and reputed ayurvedic medicine manufacturers. However, just like certain foods do not always agree with everyone always, few ayurvedic medicines may cause mild side effects in some patients. This is very rare though. In case you notice any such issue you can always talk to your consulting doctor or our medical team.