PCOD/PCOS – COMMONLY EXPERIENCED SYMPTOMS
1) Irregular periods or no periods
2) Difficulties in getting pregnant (because of the fault line in ovulation or failure to ovulate)
3) Enhanced and excessive hair growth– usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
4) Weight gain
5) thinning of hair and hair loss from the head region
6) Oily skin accompanied by acne
Women with PCOD/PCOS conditions may experience two or multiple symptoms. Symptoms can be mild to moderate or severe. It varies from woman to woman.
The majority of women do not experience a regular menstrual cycle, or they fail to conceive or maybe both.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN REASONS ATTRIBUTED TO PCOD/PCOS
The modern existence, wherein being busy all the time and running from one task to another, has caused conscious and sub-conscious stress in women, especially in women living in large metros. This new existential physical, emotional and intellectual stress has caused the widespread occurrence of Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease(PCOD) in women.
According to modern medical fraternity experts, PCOD/PCOS is caused by enhanced or abnormal male hormone secretion. This imbalanced male hormone causes either the body to miss/skip a menstrual period or make it difficult to become pregnant.
The accompanying symptoms of PCOD/PCOS are the emergence of facial hair and body, and in some rare cases, it may cause baldness. PCOD may also lead to other health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
PCOD is commonly found in women aged 15 to 44 years during their childbearing period.
Woman’s ovaries are affected due to PCOD, which further affects the reproductive system.
Ovaries produce estrogens and progesterone —menstrual cycle regulating hormones. Androgens – Male hormone is also produced in small quantities by the ovaries.
The ovaries release eggs to be fertilized by a man’s sperm for procreation during every cycle. The release of an egg each month is known as ovulation.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), regulate & control the process of ovulation. These two hormones are produced in the pituitary gland.
How does PCOD/PCOS manifest in the body?
PCOS or PCOD is a condition or group of symptoms affecting ovaries and ovulation.
Women’s ovaries produce either immature or partially mature eggs in large numbers in this medical condition.
Over a period of time, large or partially mature eggs become cysts in ovaries.
The ovarian cyst further causes the ovaries to become large and leads to a condition in which ovaries secrete a large number of male hormones (androgens).
These enhanced amounts of Androgens(Male Hormone) lead to irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, hair loss, the appearance of hair on – the face, arms, chest, legs, hips and abnormal weight gain.
The five main features of PCOD/PCOS are:
– Production of either immature or partially mature eggs in large numbers
– cysts in the ovaries
– high levels of male hormones
– irregular or skipped periods
– In PCOS, many small, fluid-filled sacs grow inside the ovaries. The word “polycystic” means “many cysts.”
The ovary produces a follicle by way of stimulation— a sac that contains an egg. Post this then, LH stimulates the ovary to release a mature egg.
In PCOD, a condition develops wherein each follicle contains an immature egg. These immature eggs are never mature enough to trigger ovulation.
This underlying condition of -absence or lack of ovulation alters levels of estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and LH. Leading to a state wherein Progesterone levels are become lower than usual, whereas androgen becomes higher than normal levels.
This condition of abnormally high male hormones in women’s systems disrupts the menstrual cycle; therefore, women with PCOD/PCOS get much fewer periods than usual.
PCOD/PCOS isn’t a new condition. Its symptoms were first mentioned by an Italian physician Antonio Vallisneri in 1721.
However, with increased urbanisation and stress levels, the percentage of women having PCOD has gone up exponentially.
PCOD/PCOS – Understanding from the lens/perspective of Ayurveda
According to Ayurveda physicians & academicians, this condition is mentioned but with different nomenclatures.
According to the Ayurveda experts interviewed for this article, the condition of PCOD is prevalent in large numbers in urban areas compared to rural areas. In fact, in their observation, the condition of PCOD is not prevalent in the villages. One reason could be that women in rural areas are shy to share about their feminine health, impacting matrimonial prospects. That could also be a result of the absence of a diagnosis.
The reason attributed by Ayurveda Physicians for PCOD are –
1) Excessive competition in girls for education & success (In terms of evolution, it is a much newer phenomenon)
2) Accompanying higher stress levels on account of basic desire to succeed
3) Eating either too much food from restaurants or overeating of junk food
4) More commonly found in girls who do not follow the Bio-rhythm of nature(Sleeping in the early hours of the morning and not sleeping at night)
5)Lack of discipline with regards to eating and sleeping cycle
Both men & women have both Male & Female hormones. In a natural equilibrium and balance state, Women have more women hormones, and men have more men’s hormones.
Because of this state of balance where male hormones are predominant in males give them essentially body, mind and characteristics of a male.
Similarly, women’s predominance of female hormones gives them feminine characteristics, body, & mind.
A distortion or imbalance in women, wherein it starts to secrete more male hormones, leads to this state of PCOD.
The main reason for the emergence of PCOD in women is caused by modern lifestyle, stress, overweight and accentuation by genetics.
Understanding PCOD from the Vata, Pita and Kapha perspective
It is important to mention here that breast milk and Rajah (menstruation) are considered Updhatu (accessory tissue) of the first tissue element, i.e., Ras Dhatu. To go deeper into the composition of Ras Dhatu is derived from “Apa” (Jal – Water) element and the main dosha controlling this Dhatu is “Kapha”. To further our understanding, we will have to understand the second factor that affects PCOD/PCOS, the last tissue element and i.e Shukra (Shukra/Artav), which deals with the reproductive system.
The following may be the possible reasons for the PCOS/PCOD pathogenesis from the Ayurvedic perspective.
- Due to improper food habits, the first Ras Dhatu gets affected which further affects its Updhatu i.e Rajah and this alters or disturbs the production of the Menstruation process.
- At the same time, due to excess consumption of fast food, deep-fried food prepared with white flour, processed food, sweets etc. Kapha gets vitiated, and because Ras and Kapha both have the same properties, Kapha increases in the form of fat and get accumulated and causes general or abdominal obesity. Several researches have proven that obesity, especially abdominal obesity, can affect insulin resistance and adrenal cortical hormone impairment. This is a well-established fact that hormonal impairment has a direct bearing on PCOD.
- Kapha plays an important role in the formation of any Cyst or Granthi in the body. In the case of ovarian cyst, there is clear Ayurvedic pathogenesis which explains that whenever there are enhanced Kapha levels due to affected first tissue “Ras dhatu”, the condition in which both Kapha & Ras Dhatu get affected, this condition leads to the cyst formation process.
- There may be two types of PCOS/PCOD patients.
- Vata-Pitta Dominant
- Kapha Dominant
- Vata Pitta dominant patients can be considered as LPCOS (Lean polycystic ovarian syndrome or disease). In these cases, girls or women will be lean and thin and may have a high level of DHEA in their blood. Many researchers have proven that patients with high DHEAS levels are younger, thinner, and more hirsute than PCOS patients with normal DHEAS levels. DHEAS stands for dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate. DHEAS is a male sex hormone that is found in both men and women. DHEAS plays an important role in making the male sex hormone testosterone and the female sex hormone oestrogen. It is normally found in the form of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). The body holds DHEAS in reserve and converts it to specific hormones when needed. It is important for creating estrogen and androgen sex hormonesand contributes to the development of so-called androgenic effects, or masculinization. Due to modern lifestyle, nature of job, day and night behavioural alterations, both the Vata and Pitta are getting vitiated and causing serious changes in the normal body physiology and turning this compromised condition into a pathological state.
- Kapha dominant patients may develop ovarian cysts due to faulty accumulation of fat in the body due to access Kapha and by developing obesity.
- Shukra/Artav is the last dhatu that plays an important role in the reproductive system. Due to improper coordination, concentration, quantity and quality of all three Doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The Shukra dhatu gets seriously affected and cause improper production, function and abnormal eggs which again become responsible either for ovarian cyst or infertility in case of PCOD.
Women’s menstrual cycle involves all three energy systems – Vata, Pitta & Kapha.
Vata is responsible for all the voluntary & involuntary movements in the Body. A matured egg in the follicle is released for ovulation, is governed by Vata! Breaking of the endometrial wall, its eradication from the uterus through the vagina is controlled by Vata.
Pitta governs the entire hormone system; if the hormones are in a state of imbalance, it means that the Pita is vitiated.
Kapha- the formation of the endometrial lining is made by Kapha.
According to the Ayurvedic understanding, PCOD is a state wherein all three energy systems are vitiated, that is Vata, Pitta &Kapha.
Stress, modern lifestyle, lack of discipline in eating &sleeping, sedentary lifestyle, emotional & intellectual mismanagement these factors have adverse effect on all three energy systems – Vata, Pita &Kapha. Vitiated Vata is not able to throw all the toxins out of the body, leading to the accumulation of toxins in the body. Vitiated Pitta affects the hormonal system of the body, thereby leading to immature or partially mature eggs, that too in abnormal numbers. Affected Kapha doesn’t lead to a proper & healthy creation of endometrial lining.
Hence all these lead to a condition that we all popularly known as PCOD/PCOS.
Vitiated Vata, Pita & Kapha adversely affect the balance of the sapta dhatus that is Rasa Dhatu: Plasma/lymph fluid, Rakta Dhatu: Blood, Mamsa Dhatu: Muscles, Meda Dhatu: Fat, Asthi Dhatu: Bone, Majja Dhatu: Bone marrow, and Shukra Dhatu: Reproductive fluid or Semen – a state where Sapta Dhatu’s equilibrium is affected.
When the state of equilibrium & balance of Rasa & Rakta Dhatus is disturbed, which leads to improper cleaning of the body’s systems, improper lifestyle further compounds it by not cleansing the body of toxin accumulation.
This leads to improper functioning of the hormonal system. In this state, Ayurvedic Panchkarma, proper lifestyle and healthy diet well assisted by Yoga & Pranayam, help the body to throw out accumulated toxins; once the body is cleaned, all the three doshas start to come back to their perfect balance state. Once all the three energy systems resume their state of balance, it leads to the proper functioning of the hormonal system.
Ayurvedic habits, medicines, and cures that can help women suffering from PCOD/PCOS to alleviate the symptoms or help reverse the condition to the maximum extent
1) Diagnosis – According to Ayurveda, there are two kinds of diagnosis – pathological and clinical, and the diagnosis is understanding the lifestyle, emotional, intellectual & spiritual framework of a patient
2) Inducing discipline in life with regards to day-to-day life. Sleeping & waking bay way of following the Bio-rhythm of the nature, that is sunrise & sunset, eating at proper intervals and at the right time, eating wholesome & well-balanced food, it should include salads & fresh fruits. Eating freshly cooked food and avoiding refrigerated food
3) Understanding the real reason behind the existential stress and emotional distress, discuss your problems with a wise person who can help you understand life and helps you understand the soft power of gratitude and acceptance in life
4) Daily walk, learn Yoga from a properly trained teacher who can especially teach you Yoga that benefits the overall body and female reproductive system, Yoga has to be supplemented with Pranayam and meditation
5) Towards bringing Sapta Dhatu Agni and Jatharagni(Main Agni which manages the entire digestive system) back to equilibrium – Fenugreek seeds, Carom Seeds, Fennel, and Chandrachur Seeds, – these four 1 part each and Kalonji(two parts), make a powder separately of all 5 and mix it. Take 3 grams of this powder/Chooran twice a day before meals. This helps clear energy blockages and helps revive Sapta Dhatu Agni & Jatharagni.
5) Mix 100gms of ShatawariChooran/Powder with 50gms of Ashwagandha(Chooran/Powder) take 2 to 3 gm daily with milk or water
6) Panch Karma is best suited to clear the body of toxins and helps the body recover with visible changes in the entire body’s metabolism
7) There are several Ayurvedic Medicines that can be beneficial for PCOD/PCOS, however, it is advised to consult an Ayurvedic Physician.
To begin with one can start with Kanyalohadi Vati, Ashokarsight & Dashmularisht.
8) Ayurveda is not just the science of medicine; it is the complete science that gives the method of right living. Medicine will certainly help. However, in order to be able to reverse the disease one needs to have a combination of Right living, Right thoughts, Right eating, Right Speech, Right Actions and a balanced life aided by Yoga & Pranayam!