Sujal Torgal Patil
Lifestyle disorders have spread throughout the world as vigorously as any communicable epidemic. One of them is Polycystic Ovary Disease (PCOD) an endocrine disturbance which accounts for a major chunk of patients – women between 15 to 40 years of age. Other names for PCOD are Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or the Stein-Leventhal syndrome. The disorder accounts for 30 per cent of all infertility cases with 73 per cent of women suffering from PCOD experiencing infertility due to anovulation. The data associated with PCOD is frightening enough to consider this menace as a priority for the medical system today.
As said earlier in PCOD the hormones get out of balance. One hormone change triggers another, which changes another. For example, the sex hormones get out of balance. Hormonal imbalance affects follicular growth during the ovarian cycle causing the affected follicles to remain in the ovary. The retained follicle forms into a cyst and with each ovarian cycle a new cyst is formed leading to multiple ovarian cysts. Normally, the ovaries make a tiny amount of male sex hormones called androgens, in those suffering from PCOS, the ovaries start making slightly more androgens. This may hault ovulation, and trigger the onset of acne and extra facial and body hair. The body may develop insulin resistance and result in blood sugar levels going up. Over time this increases the risk of getting diabetes which in turn enhances the risk of PCOD.
Menstrual disorders: Oligomenorrhea (fewer than nine menstrual periods in a year) or amenorrhea (no menstrual periods for three or more consecutive months), hypermenorrhea (heavy and prolonged menstrual periods) may also occur.
High levels of male hormones: Hyperandrogenism, the most common signs are acne and hirsutism (male pattern of hair growth, such as on the chin or chest) and androgenic alopecia (increased hair thinning on the scalp or diffuse hair loss).
Infertility: This generally results directly from chronic anovulation (lack of ovulation).
Other symptoms include depression, obstructive sleep apnea, mood disorders, pelvic pain and patches of thick, darker and velvety skin.
There is detailed information about the pathological changes that take place during PCOD in modern medical literature, but no information about the causes. Every case of PCOD is dealt with the perspective of the objective to be achieved. For instance in a case of PCOD with associated weight gain, the focus will be on weight loss. Where there is amenorrhoea, hormonal stimulators are given to induce periods. When PCOD is related to infertility methods like IUI and IVF are adopted when primary management fails and eventually there is surgical intervention to break open the cysts.
Ayurveda’s approach is completely different and holistic. This disorder is also considered a result of faulty lifestyle. Therefore in no time symptoms of PCOD are reversed by ayurvedic management with minimal medication and accurate diet and lifestyle intervention.
According to ayurveda the root cause of this disorder is agnimandya (reduction of appetite as well as digestive power) and lack of nutritional food. Along with this heredity and genetic predisposition also plays a vital role. The imbalance in agni is probably the result of a faulty diet and lifestyle. If we have a glance at the dietary habits of children these days, we have our answers straight away. The day starts with junk food and ends with the same. Instant food like pizzas, burger, sandwiches, pasta, noodles and other products of refined flour, ice creams, cakes and other bakery product, cold drinks, spicy chats available on the streets and such other edibles have negligible amounts of nutritive value in them. Such food should be eaten once in a while but unfortunately edibles like these have become the main content of the dietary charts. Some individuals are under the impression that making the above at home could make it healthy, which is not true. Some of these products are so heavy to digest that the agni( digestive power) hits its all time low. To augment the ill effects, lack of physical exercise, sedentary lifestyle, improper sleep schedule and more importantly lack of care during the menstrual periods are the most important causes of metabolic disturbances resulting in disorders like PCOD.
As explained earlier because of the various dietary and lifestyle related causes the agni is imbalanced resulting in improper digestion leading to body tissues which lack the necessary essence and nourishment. According to ayurveda, rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja and shukra are the seven dhatus (tissues or the building blocks) which form the body. In the pathogenesis of PCOD, rasa-med-shukra dhatu are largely affected. These dhatus lack nourishment and hence their natural form and vigour are lost along with the loss of functions as well.
The diet that is particularly followed during the specific stages of the menstrual cycle has the corresponding negative or positive effects on the body. For an instance, once menstruation is over during the first phase of the cycle (follicular phase) the uterus along with the ovaries prepares itself for the upcoming event of ovulation and later implantation (if fertilisation occurs). If the woman indulges in excessive salty or sour food it hampers the follicular growth and thus leads to cyst formation and anovulation which later has an effect on the menstrual cycle in totality.
To address a problem like PCOD, the physician has to find out the exact presentation in a patient and identify the causes first.
To be continued…
(Writer is a consultant at Traya Natural Health Centre: email@example.com)