In today’s times, PCOD or Polycystic Ovarian Disease has become one of the most common problems that 1 in 10 women face today in the age group of 12 to 45. While a major aspect of PCOD is a hormonal imbalance in the female body, it further leads to a multitude of problems - including skin concerns.
Let us take a look at what PCOD really is and does and how you can take care of yourself and your skin better if you are struggling with it.
The What and Why of PCOD
We have already given you a rough idea of what PCOD is but let us elaborate on it a little better here. Essentially, PCOD causes a hormonal imbalance and interferes with the menstrual cycle. This, at times, results in many women experiencing troubles conceiving.
Let us take a trip down memory lane and revise our 9th-10th grade biology. The female bodies produce a mix of female and male hormones via the pituitary gland. These hormones help regulate the development of eggs in the ovaries during the menstrual cycle. PCOD disrupts the balance of these hormones. Generally the production of male hormones or androgens - such as testosterone - begins to increase and the production of female hormones - such as progesterone and oestrogen - begins to decrease, resulting in the release of premature or partially matured eggs.
What are the symptoms of PCOD?
Here are a few common symptoms observed in PCOD:
1. Fluctuations in weight
One may either experience sudden weight loss or weight gain. Another aspect of PCOD is an increased difficulty in losing weight. Often it is also said that weight gain itself can be one of the triggers for PCOD too.
2. Hair Growth
When the production of androgens increases in the body, it leads to many changes. Hair growth on the face, chest, and back are a common occurrence.
3. Hair loss and thinning
While facial hair may increase, the hair on the top of your head may start to become weak. Male pattern hair loss is also a potential symptom.
To know more about hair loss and how you can manage it, head over to our blog.
4. Irregular periods
Women with PCOD often experience less than 9 periods in a year. While some might not have any at all, others experience heavy bleeding and intense cramps.
Our skin is inextricably linked to our menstrual cycle or hormonal balance so it should not come as a surprise that when these are disturbed, our skin tends to react as well. Acne and skin conditions such as Eczema, Rosacea. To learn more about hormonal acne, head over to our blog.
6. Trouble conceiving or infertility
Due to the hormonal imbalance, the issue of premature and partially-matured eggs arises. In some cases, ovulation(release of the egg from the ovaries) may stop occurring too. This interferes with fertility and women with PCOD may experience trouble conceiving.
In PCOD, at times ovulation stops occurring. This means that, instead of travelling from the ovaries to the uterus, the egg stays in the ovaries since it is not mature enough.
An increase in the level of androgens in the body triggers inflammation.
Why does it occur?
But why does this happen at all? Truth be told, while PCOD has been around since the 1700s, there is not a lot of clarity as to what exactly triggers it. However, there are multiple factors that can be attributed to PCOD:
1. Weight Gain
Yes, it is a cause and effect both. Because of our sedentary lifestyle, most people - not just women - are not engaging in enough outdoor activities or are not working out regularly. This impacts the body in a huge way since, as a species, physical activity is a requirement and necessity. It also does not help that more and more people are beginning to eat unhealthy foods. All this results in weight gains and throws things off balance. Consequently, this weight gain may further be promoted by PCOD.
Whether it is your body structure, skin, hair or a medical condition, genes play a huge role. This holds true in the case of PCOD as well.
3. Insulin Resistance
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps break down sugar in the body to produce energy. In some cases, cells are unable to use insulin properly and this creates a surge in the production of insulin. Increased insulin triggers the ovaries to produce more androgens, creating a hormonal imbalance. Insulin resistance also increases your risk of contracting Type 2 Diabetes.
How PCOD affects your skin
For some women, PCOD does not affect their skin much but in others, it can cause some serious skin problems. But why does this happen? Well, it all links back to the hormonal imbalance that PCOD triggers. An increase in the production of male hormones means that the skin becomes oilier than usual. Our bodies do not know how to react to this increased greasiness and that results in breakouts. You may also find that you have acne on parts of your body such as your upper back and chest.
Wondering whether you have PCOD or it is just regular acne? Well, if you are past your teens and are experiencing continuing acne, chances are that something inside is triggering it. It may not necessarily be PCOD, but this is when you know you need to pay the doctor a visit. Generally though, the lower two-thirds of the face is considered to be hormonally sensitive. This essentially means that if there is a hormonal imbalance or anything of
2. Dark patches and pigmentation
Another common skin concern linked with PCOD is that of dark patches. What happens is that due to the increased production of androgens, certain areas of your body - such as the neck, armpits, and abdomen begin to develop thicker, darker, and more velvety textured skin. This skin condition is referred to as Acanthosis nigrican.
Hormonal imbalance triggers the body to swell up. This can aggravate existing acne as well so if you are dealing with the likes of rosacea or eczema, chances are they may become more intense due to PCOD.
4. Itching and dandruff
PCOS can also affect your scalp and hair health, resulting in itching, flakiness, and dandruff. Head over to our blog to know more about how you can soothe your scalp.
1. Visit your Doctor
With PCOD, the earlier you are diagnosed the better it is. So if you are experiencing irregular periods, consult your doctor immediately. It is a good idea to get routine checkups done in any case. If you are experiencing particularly aggressive skin conditions, it is best you consult your dermatologist rather than experiment on your own.
2. Exercise Regularly
Weight gain is a cause and an effect of PCOD. In fact, you may even notice that when you are exercising regularly, you experience less intense cramps. Leading an active lifestyle helps not only with PCOD but also with a myriad of other potential health problems.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
Our diet is a huge part of how our body behaves and if you are not getting enough nourishment, it can seriously affect your body - especially your menstrual cycle. To know more about how your diet affects your overall health, head over to our blog.
4. Be Positive
Dealing with PCOD is hard. Your body undergoes so many changes and mood swings are a common occurrence. It is quite natural for anyone to struggle with feelings of insecurity regarding their appearance and whatnot. But do not let yourself get caught up in a string of negative thoughts! Whenever you feel low, reach out to your friends and family. A menace such as PCOD requires support and encouragement so do not give up and do not lose hope!
Taking care of your skin
1. Use a Gentle Oil-Free Cleanser
Treat your skin as you would in a regular acne situation. Use a hydrating oil-free cleanser that will not irritate your skin. Ozone’s Signature Purifying Cleanser is a great option. It contains hydrating and soothing ingredients such as Aloe Vera and Cucumber that nourish your skin.
2. Add an Exfoliant to your Routine
If you are experiencing acne, you need to introduce a chemical exfoliant into your skincare routine. Do not use a scrub on active acne; you will just make matters worse. To learn more about which exfoliant is the one for you, head over to our blog.
3. Don't Pick at your Pimples
This is potentially one of the worst things you can do to your skin and the truth is we have all done it at some point. But avoid it at all costs! If your skin is already irritated and inflamed, picking at it will not help. Rather, you may end up with some nasty acne scars. To know more about managing acne-prone skin, head over to our blog.
4. Use an Oil-Free Moisturiser
It does not matter if your skin is oilier than before; you still need a moisturiser! Opt for more gel or water-based formulations that are lightweight. Here is our handy guide to choosing the best moisturiser for your skin.
5. Use Makeup that is Non-Comedogenic or avoid putting any at all
Non-comedogenic means that the product will not clog your pores and that is exactly what you need. Better yet, try to skip putting on makeup at all. Let your skin breathe!
6. Don't take a Hot Bath
Hot water can dry out your skin, cause redness and inflammation, and worsen your acne. Always opt for lukewarm water.
It is important to understand here that there is no cure for PCOD. While things may go back to normal after following a healthy diet, regular workout routine, and taking over-the-counter medication, the truth is that PCOD can re-occur so it is important that you make a lifestyle change and make healthier and smarter choices.
PCOD is a result of hormonal imbalance in the body and can lead to irregular periods, acne, inflammation, hair thinning, hair growth on the chest, back, and face, weight gain, and more. While PCOD is not completely curable, factors such as exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and using the right skincare and haircare products can keep it and its effects under check.
- Gauri Sindhu