PCOD vs PCOS: How These Common Women’s Conditions Differ

Dr. Shradha Tripathi
May 14th, 2021
8 mins read

Key Takeaways

  • PCOD vs PCOS: What are the key differences? 
  • Understand what is the one your body is going through
  • Diet and exercise to manage PCOD and PCOS  

PCOD and PCOS are same or different? This is a question that befuddles many. Simply put, they aren’t the same thing. PCOD or Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease and PCOS or Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome both concern a woman’s ovaries, have similar symptoms, and culminate in hormonal fluctuations, but that’s where the similarities end. Read on to find out how the PCOD vs PCOS two conditions differ, their symptoms and more. 

PCOD vs PCOS: What are the key differences?

What is PCOD?

PCOD is a condition that affects 1 in 8 women in India, and is caused by a hormonal imbalance in the reproductive system. An excessive secretion of the male hormone impacts the ovaries, resulting in a build-up of immature (or partially mature) eggs that aren’t released. Over a period of time, these turn into cysts, and the cysts multiply into more cysts, further worsening the problem. This condition usually arises owing to genetics as well as lifestyle and environmental factors, such as exposure to substances like bisphenol A. 

What is PCOS?

PCOS, on the other hand, is a disorder concerning the endocrine system that can be traced back to the early 1700s. In those affected by PCOS—20% of all Indian women—the body produces a higher level of androgen (male hormone). This hampers egg development in the ovaries as well as their release, and can result in the formation of cysts. Along with genetics, insulin-resistance and inflammation in the body are considered to be causes for PCOS.

In the event that a woman’s body can’t utilise insulin optimally, there is excess insulin in the body. This prompts a greater production of the male hormone. Similarly, when your body faces inflammation, it may urge ovaries to up the production of androgen. 

Difference between PCOS and PCOD

When it comes to PCOD vs PCOS, the latter is considered to be far more serious and long-lasting by medical experts as it is a metabolic disorder. PCOD, on the other hand, is deemed temporary and treatable with a combination of diet and exercise. Both, however, can contribute to fertility problems. 

Additional Read: PCOS hair loss

PCOD vs PCOS symptoms

When it comes to PCOD vs PCOS symptoms, there are a many overlaps. However, the key differentiator is that PCOD symptoms rarely show up at an early age. They are typically visible only later in life. On the other hand, PCOS symptoms show up early, usually during teenage years. This is especially true for symptoms such as acne, hirsutism and an increase in weight.

PCOD vs PCOS: How these common women’s conditions differ

PCOD symptoms 

  • Hirsutism, i.e., excessive hair growth on the face and body 
  • Acne 
  • Darkness of skin where the skin creases, such as the neck, armpits and groin 
  • Hair thinning 
  • Menstrual irregularity: oligomenorrhea (less than 9 menstrual periods in a year) and amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods for 3 or more months, successively) 
  • Heavy bleeding when periods do occur 
  • Severe obesity 

PCOS symptoms 

  • Irregular periods, which triggers heavy bleeding when periods do occur 
  • Male pattern baldness 
  • Acne 
  • Headaches 
  • Hirsutism 
  • Darkness of skin where the skin creases, such as the neck, armpits and groin 
  • Weight gain 

As you can see, PCOD vs PCOS symptoms are more or less the same. However, their intensity, or the way in which they present themselves varies. For instance, weight gain is common to both, but is more severe in PCOD than it is in PCOS.

Diet and exercise to manage PCOD and PCOS

While PCOD and PCOS vary in several aspects, one of the similarities is that they both benefit from a good diet and exercise. This is because diet and exercise help manage obesity, which is a symptom of PCOS and PCOD.

How exercising helps

PCOS and PCOD may result in other illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnoea and high cholesterol, but moderate exercise goes a long way in preventing these outcomes. Apart from reducing weight and abdominal fat, exercising helps lower and even mitigate insulin resistance, which is one of the main causes of PCOS. There are many benefits of yoga for PCOS.

While there is no particular form of exercise that’s best, aerobic exercises, HIIT workouts and strength training are all beneficial options that you can consider. Additionally, forms of exercise that also combat stress are ideal, as studies show that women diagnosed with PCOS have an elevated stress response. This makes yoga and Pilates excellent options to choose from.

How diet helps

There is a direct link between obesity and PCOD and PCOS, and one of the ways to manage it is through diet. In turn, weight loss helps regulate irregular menstrual cycles. Moreover, diet also encourages lowering of insulin resistance. 

Additional Read: PCOD Diet

In a nutshell, you must focus on incorporating fibre, lean proteins and anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, and avoid simple carbohydrates (Eg: white rice, bread and pasta), processed foods, sugar and trans fats. Eat high-fibre produce such as broccoli, pumpkin, beans, sweet potatoes and lentils, along with healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts. For anti-inflammation benefits, increase your intake of leafy greens such as spinach, along with salmon/tuna, kale, tomatoes, olive oil and walnuts. 

Apart from monitoring what you eat, also pay attention to how you eat. Since many PCOD patients also have water retention, it’s best to eat multiple small meals through the day and drink plenty of water too. 


While you may have some of the symptoms of PCOD or PCOS, don’t self-diagnose or self-medicate. The best way forward is to approach a specialist doctor who will diagnose you after checking for cysts, high androgen levels and a pelvic exam. Fortunately, finding the right gynacologist is easy when you use the Bajaj Finserv Health App. You can book online consultation or in-person consults through it, and also benefit from discounts and offers from partner hospitals and clinics. Download the free app on to your smartphone in minutes, and find a specialist doctor for your needs just as quickly! 

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