What is the difference between PCOS and PCOD?


They sound doppelgangers, but they are not.

Majority of the women population have confused opinion of the two gynae disorders which are PCOS and PCOD.

The former expands to polycystic ovarian syndrome, while the latter stands for polycystic ovarian disease.

Despite being so common issues among women, the air of perplexity that surrounds it seems relevant.

This is because of reluctance of our people and society to broach and talk openly about these health matters.

Menstruation and related matters have always occupied a place of taboo, but fortunately, the things are stirring bit by bit towards change.

Owing to the unclarity regarding PCOD and PCOS, they are used synonymously often, but in reality they are entirely different.

Partial knowledge can be dangerous, and this holds true, not exempting this case.

It is important to get complete awareness of the symptoms, and then to get consultation from the specialist.

Let’s begin with proper and precise definition of both the disorders.

What is PCOS, its causes and symptoms?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), is linked to abnormally high secretion of androgen, a hormone which is exclusive a male, in women.

This results in formation of cysts from premature ova release by ovaries.

These cysts get accumulated within the ovaries and can grow in size, posing serious issues.

It makes females vulnerable to type 2 diabetes, cholesterol issues, endometrial cancer, high blood pressure and heart diseases.

Major symptoms of PCOS

  • Abrupt weight gain
  • Lack of periods
  • Irregular periods
  • Too much facial hair
  • Male pattern hair loss
  • Patches on elbows or nape
  • Axillary hair
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Sleep difficulties and related problems
  • Mood swings
  • Head pain
  • Exhaustion and feeling low
  • Body odour

You do not have to check all the mentioned symptoms to get diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, but most of them would be present.

If you are about to develop PCOS, then the symptoms may start to manifest with the onset of puberty itself.

If your symptoms align with those given here, then it is time to consider professional medical approach towards the condition.

Main causes of PCOS

Although exact causes of polycystic ovarian syndrome are yet in dark. But the culprit often cited are lifestyle, diet, lack of physical activity, genetics and so forth.

Being a hormonal disorder, PCOS is said to be triggered by increased levels of insulin and androgens in females.

The problematic scenario is caused by these chemicals primarily, and not some issue within the ovaries themselves.

Abnormal insulin concentration can be intrusive to the proper functioning of ovaries, which cause high androgen secretion.

Diagnosis and Treatment of PCOS

PCOS is diagnosed by descrying the obvious symptoms like excessive hair fall, body hair, etc.

Then you may prescribe to undertake tests such as pelvic exam, blood tests or an ultrasound.

Since it is a hormonal imbalance disorder, there are certain medications given to treat the problem. Further, you may have to include healthy habits and avoid unfit ones.

In many cases, progestin therapy, birth control pill combinations, gonadotropins, clomiphene etc. are some techniques usually resorted to for the solution of the problem.

What is PCOD, its causes and symptoms?

PCOD is a contraction for polycystic ovarian disease, and unlike PCOS, hormones do not cause this condition.

Rather, it is primarily linked to ovaries, which produce abnormally high levels of androgen, which is exclusively a male hormone, in women.

PCOD involves formation of cysts which are fluid filled sacs, in the ovaries of women.

These cysts grow from premature or partially mature ova, released by the ovaries, and can enlarge.

Women’s bodies secrete male hormones (in minute concentrations) such as androgen, as well as female hormones (dominant).

Now, androgen is exclusively a male steroid biochemical, and a counterpart to female hormone estrogen, which finds reckless release during PCOS.

And the dominance of estrogen by androgen can result in symptoms that are usual features in males such as intense body hair growth, male pattern hair loss, axillary hair or excessive facial hair.

Androgen can seriously affect fertility of women.

Main symptoms of PCOD

  • Infertility risks
  • Acne and skin problems
  • Excessive body hair/ hirsutism
  • Missed or irregular menses
  • Skin tags
  • Abrupt weight gain
  • Darkening of skin
  • Hair loss/ thinning

Main causes of PCOD

Although the causes of PCOD are unknown, but it is believed to be triggered by the following factors:

  • Excess insulin
  • Hyperandrogenism (secretion of excessive male hormones)
  • Genetics
  • Inflammation

Treatment and diagnosis of PCOD

It does not have any specific cure.

Various birth control medicines are used in combination.

Metformin and anti-androgen can also aid in countering the problem.

Further, a doctor may recommend few lifestyle changes like exercise, diet, activity etc.

How is PCOS different from PCOD?

So far, the gist of these disorders might have seeped into your minds. Therefore, we can now catalogue the differences which set both PCOS and PCOD apart.


While PCOD can be cured by good diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle, PCOS is a metabolic disorder, hence it is crucial to get the doctor’s consultation.


PCOD is very common that almost every third woman suffers from this condition, whereas PCOS is comparably rare.

Risks of other diseases

A woman suffering from PCOD may not have to confront add-on-side effects or complications due to the disease.

On the other hand, PCOS may inflict risks like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.

Risk of infertility

There are lesser chances of infertility.

Periods will eventually come regularly and ovulation would also become normal.

While in PCOS, the chances of infertility are high.

Periods will remain regular and ovulation shall also be absent.


PCOD is related to malfunctioning of endocrine system, while PCOS is primarily caused due to hormonal imbalance.

Bottom line

PCOD and PCOS are two women’s reproductive health disorder, also quite common.

However, there is a lack of awareness among people, especially women regarding the two.

Where PCOD happens due to combined negative effects of high insulin and luteinizing hormone (LH) and PCOS is caused owing to the hormonal imbalance in estrogen and androgens.

Anyway, in either case, consultation of doctor is important.

And make sure you lead a healthy lifestyle to palliate the effects of the condition you are suffering from.

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