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The Basics

PCOS/PCOD is a gynaecological issue that may lead to multiple cysts in the ovaries. It can also lead to several other hormonal issues, including difficulties in conceiving.

However, before we move ahead, have you ever wondered:

Why are there two words (PCOS/ PCOD) for a disease we consider the same?

Do you need to bother about the difference?

For most people, these two words only add to the confusion. As far as a patient is concerned, PCOS and PCOD are the same. These terms are used interchangeably.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a difference. It simply means that you don’t need to bother about the difference as a patient. The difference mainly concerns the doctors and research workers.

However, for easier understanding, let us explore the meaning and differences between PCOS and PCOD.


Poly: Many

Cystic: Cysts are non-cancerous sacs filled with liquid or semi-solid substance

Ovarian: Relating to the ovaries

These three alphabets are common. Therefore, whether it is PCOS or PCOD, it is a problem concerning the formation of several cysts in the ovaries.

The difference is in the last two alphabets:

S: Syndrome

D: Disorder


PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

PCOD stands for Polycystic Ovarian Disorder

So, the real difference is in the words Syndrome and Disorder.

Syndrome: Syndrome is the presence of a few signs and symptoms indicative of a disease. A woman suffering from PCOS may have some signs of the disease present.

For example, suppose a woman suffers from male pattern baldness but has regular periods. Her ovaries are also not showing PCOD changes, and her skin and hair are also fine. In that case, that woman is suffering from PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Disorder: A disorder is characterised by a complete disruption of bodily functions or systems. Suppose a woman has cysts in the ovaries and is also experiencing other signs like irregular periods, male pattern baldness, acne, facial hair, insulin resistance, etc. In that case, such a woman is said to be suffering from PCOD or Polycystic Ovarian Disorder.

Madhvi- A Classic Case of Misdiagnosis

An 18-year-old girl Madhvi had a complaint of male pattern facial hair growth. As you can imagine, it is a cause of serious concern for any teenage girl.

We observed that:

  • Her periods were normal.
  • Her skin was fine, and there was no acne or other skin abnormalities.
  • She hadn’t had any significant weight gain/ loss incidents. Her weight was normal.

There was nothing significant to explain sudden facial hair growth. So, we prodded her ovaries. My doubt was correct, her ovaries had some PCOS changes.

Before coming to us, she had visited 3 other doctors, and no one had diagnosed her with PCOS. That’s because she wasn’t showing any other signs of PCOS.

However, now that she was diagnosed with mild PCOS will her treatment be different? No, she was given the treatment required for PCOS, but her reversal was much faster.

PCOS/ PCOD- There Is Nothing In The Name

Correct and timely identification of the signs and symptoms of PCOS is more important than fretting about the distinction between PCOS and PCOD.

Even if you have a little doubt, you must consult a doctor immediately. Staying informed of the signs and being vigilant is the key to avoid further complications.

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