What is PCOD or PCOS?
PCOD, or polycystic ovarian disease, also known as PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common health condition among women. It results from an imbalance in female reproductive hormones which then create stress on the ovaries, causing the eggs to develop abnormally.
PCOS is one of the biggest contributors to female infertility. The disease affects 80 percent of women who are found to have oocyte infertility (meaning that the ovaries do not produce a viable egg at every menstrual cycle.)
Research suggests that 5% to 10% of females 18 to 44 years of age are affected by PCOS or PCOD, making it the most common endocrine abnormality among women of reproductive age.
There are also indications that women with PCOS have concurrent health issues ranging from higher rates of endometrial cancer, to diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular disease.
Because the levels of the sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone are out of balance in women who suffer from PCOS, benign masses begin to form in the ovaries, called ovarian cysts.
Signs and Symptoms of PCOS
The most commonly noticed symptom of CPOD is infertility, but there are other symptoms which women notice, largely due to an overabundance of androgen levels.
These symptoms can include:
�Irregular periods (including fewer than nine per year)
�Thinning of the hair (male pattern balding, but in women)
�Obesity or difficulty losing weight
�Mood swings, depression, and anxiety
�Deepening of the voice
�Appearance of hair above the lip (mustache) and around the nipples
What Causes PCOS?
Though modern medicine is uncertain exactly how PCOS begins, there seem to be several factors at play. There are always higher than normal androgen levels in women which prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg during their regular menstrual cycle � they cannot ovulate, meaning they become infertile.
There are also usually high levels of insulin in women with PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that controls how much we eat and how that food is changed into energy.
Some of these factors seem to be caused by genetics, or are passed down by one or both parents, but there is increasing evidence that there are environmental factors which can cause PCOD to be more prevalent.
For example, though PCOS can cause obesity, obesity can also cause an increase in PCOS.
Bisphenol A (BPA) emerges as another environmental contributor to the pathogenesis of PCOS. This is a toxic chemical used by companies to make certain types of plastics, that sadly, have become used in products as diverse as baby bottles and children’s sippy cups to plastic wear dishes, plates, cups, and more. BPA was not regulated for over sixty years, and finally it was named as a toxic chemical that could harm human health.
Moreover, there are many chemicals released into our environment which are endocrine disruptors. These chemicals can be found in pesticides, herbicides, personal care products, phthalates used to make plastics, fire retardants, perchlorate found in our drinking water, genetically modified foods like soy, lead, arsenic, and mercury, just to name a few.
When poor diet, a lack of exercise, and toxic environmental factors are not addressed, the normal androgen levels in a woman that can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg are not corrected either.
Though there is scientific proof that PCOD can be passed generationally, environmental factors can influence the cells to override their genetic programming.