Ovaries at Work: The 9 to 5 of PCOD

  • postauthorOnsurity Editorial
  • postdateNovember 7, 2023
  • postreadtime5 min read
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“Almost 90% of women who come to my clinic have PCOD,” — Dr Shraddha Patil, a gynecologist based in South Goa.

PCOD(Polycystic Ovarian Disease), a medical condition resulting from hormonal imbalances and genetic factors, is prevalent in both urban and rural India. Research indicates that 1 in 5 women in India suffers from PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, an advanced stage of PCOD).  

It is a medical condition in which the woman’s ovaries produce immature or partially mature eggs in large numbers and over time these become cysts in ovaries. Due to this, ovaries become large and secrete large amounts of male hormones (androgens) causing infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, hair loss and abnormal weight gain. 

For professional women engaged in sedentary jobs, an unhealthy lifestyle further intensifies PCOD symptoms. The combination of prolonged inactivity and job-induced stress affects hormone regulation, potentially aggravating PCOD. Alarmingly, many single working women, especially those lacking familial support or obligations, often prioritise work over health. Their demanding routines leave little room for much needed lifestyle modifications. 

To address these challenges, flexible scheduling is essential for women to manage their busy lifestyles. In this article, we’ll explore essential practices tailored for working women, making it simpler for them to avoid PCOD symptoms. 

How does PCOD disrupt the work-life rhythm?  

PCOD poses a range of challenges to working women. These challenges often intersect with work pressures, affecting productivity and well-being.  

Here are 3 key barriers that hinder career-driven women from adopting a more healthier lifestyle: 

1. Psychological and emotional distress 

Insulin, androgens, progesterone and oestrogen are crucial hormones pivotal for maintaining psychological balance and reproductive health. PMC study indicates that imbalances in these hormones lead to higher levels of  psychological distress among women with PCOD.  

For working professionals, such psychological experiences strain professional relationships, potentially causing misunderstandings or conflicts with colleagues due to perceived erratic behaviour or reactions. Also, symptoms such as hirsutism (excessive hair growth), persistent acne, and weight gain can shake the self-confidence of those affected, making them hyper-aware of their appearance in and beyond professional arenas. This self-consciousness inhibits active participation in meetings, social events, or even day-to-day interactions. 

The social stigma associated with PCOD further aggravates the situation. Many view PCOD through a lens of ignorance or judgement. This creates an environment where individuals hesitate to discuss their condition, fearing prejudice or misunderstanding. They avoid seeking necessary accommodations or support at work, potentially affecting their health and professional growth.  

2. Irregular menstrual cycle and fatigue  

PCOD’s most prominent health challenge among women is irregular menstrual cycle or periods. According to Dr Shraddha Patil, “The incidence of PCOD is so high among young girls that it is rare to come across one with a regular menstrual cycle.” Unlike the predictability of a regular cycle, the inconsistency of periods in PCOD makes planning professional commitment difficult. Unexpected menstrual onset leads to physical discomfort, affecting concentration and efficiency. 

Alongside this, chronic fatigue compounds the problem. Fatigue isn’t normal tiredness – it’s an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that stays even after sufficient rest. This creates a struggle to maintain energy levels throughout the workday, which directly impacts focus, decision-making, and overall productivity.     

3. Pain and discomfort  

PCOD often results in heavy menstrual bleeding, leading to symptoms like headaches, stomach pain, and pelvic discomfort that can vary from mild unease to sharp distress. This pain isn’t merely an inconvenience which can be ignored. It’s exhausting, which makes even basic tasks seem burdensome.   

In a professional setting, the implications are clearly evident. The sudden start of severe pain disrupts concentration, affects work quality, and even necessitates unplanned absences. Consistent episodes lead to reduced work attendance, potentially impacting team projects, deadlines, and overall job performance.  

Embrace your wellness with these simple tips for managing PCOD 

The following proactive approach focused on well-being will assist in navigating the dual challenges of a demanding career and managing PCOD. 

1. Tweaking your diet  

Dietary choices have a significant impact on PCOD management. A PMC research indicates a reduction in carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, pasta, noodles, and more improved PCOD outcomes in women. However, the demands of the corporate world sometimes make it challenging to maintain healthy eating habits. Although, there are practical solutions: 

  • Portable healthy snacks: Keep nuts, seeds, or fruit in your desk drawer or bag. These can curb hunger and prevent from consuming unhealthy alternatives. 
  • Work lunch clubs: Collaborate with colleagues to create a lunch club where members take turns to bring in homemade healthy meals to share. 
  • Meal prepping on weekends: Dedicate a few hours during the weekend to prepare healthy meals and snacks for the week.  It ensures you have nutritious options readily available. For instance, instead of processed chips combine almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds for a protein-rich snack. 

2. Breaking sedentary habits 

Living in today’s corporate world often means hours spent at a desk. But it’s crucial for you to break the cycle of inactivity. This doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours in gym sessions. Simple, brief interventions throughout the day will significantly help in managing PCOD symptoms. For instance:  

  • Walking breaks: Commit to short walks every hour. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. 
  • Stretching: Stand up and do a series of stretches to awaken your muscles and improve circulation every few hours. 
  • Movement: If feasible, alternate between sitting and standing while working. 
  • Alarm and apps: Set regular alarms or use apps to remind you to stand up, move around, or even just adjust your posture. 

 3. Seeking the necessary support  

Studies show that female managers feel more stress than their male counterparts given the expectations from family and society at large. Navigating these complexities which can aggravate PCOD should never be a solo endeavour for women. Surround yourself with the right support to experience the difference.  

  • Online communities: Numerous online platforms provide resources, webinars, and forums dedicated to PCOD awareness and management. 
  • Workplace resources: Leverage your organisation’s employee assistance programs, counselling, or health workshops.  
  • Support groups: Joining PCOD-focused groups offers a platform to share experiences, insights, and coping strategies. 
  • Healthcare professionals: Regular consultations with doctors or nutritionists provide guidance tailored to individual needs. 

 4. Embracing workplace adjustments  

Open communication with your employer about your health is pivotal in fostering a supportive work atmosphere. Avoiding this step can lead to a challenging scenario.  

Here’s a gentle way to begin: 

  • Open dialogue: Initiate conversations with HR managers or your supervisor about PCOD and its implications on your daily routine. 
  • Flexible hours: Request flexible work hours, especially during rough days, to ensure both well-being and productivity.  
  • Work from home: On days when symptoms are severe, request for remote work if it’s an available option.  

 5. Prioritising regular health check-ups 

Regular monitoring and medical check-ups allow early diagnosis ensuring timely treatment and management of the disease. You can use the Onsurity Super app to schedule PCOS-related health check-ups on-the-go. 

Awareness is the first step  

‘’Most women are unaware of the condition and put up with the symptoms. They think of consulting a health expert only when they face difficulties in conceiving’’,   — Dr Govind Kamat, renowned gynaecologist 

By understanding PCOD symptoms and implications, you can take proactive measures for its management. Early recognition fosters timely intervention, optimising your health outcomes. As more women become informed, the path to comprehensive care and support becomes clearer for those who experience the condition.

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