PCOS

Taking Control of Your PCOS: A Lifestyle Approach

November 14, 2023

Written by Gia Eapen, MD

Medically reviewed by

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women's health
Contents
Contents

Key Points

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder affecting 7-10% of women of childbearing age.
  • Symptoms of PCOS include irregular menstrual periods, weight gain, acne, infertility, and more.
  • PCOS is often associated with insulin resistance and may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Lifestyle changes and supplementation can greatly aid in managing PCOS symptoms.

Are you one of the 10 percent of women grappling with the enigmatic Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)? If yes, or if you're just curious about this hormonal maze, you're in the right place. So, get ready to take control and navigate your PCOS journey with confidence and professional support by booking an appointment with a Registered Dietitian at Fay.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects approximately 7-10% of women of childbearing age. PCOS is characterized by increased production of androgens, or male hormones, and insulin resistance. These hormonal abnormalities can cause a multitude of metabolic and reproductive disruptions, including irregular or absent menstrual periods, infertility, weight gain, acne, excess hair on the face and body, and even mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Tracing the Roots: Unveiling PCOS Causes

While PCOS tends to run in families, the exact cause is not known. However, insulin resistance, genetics, and obesity are all highly related to the condition. When the body cannot use insulin properly, it secretes more insulin to make glucose available for cells, which is often linked to obesity and may also boost male hormone or androgen production by the ovaries.

Blood Work: The Hormone Balancing Act

If you are having symptoms you believe to be related to PCOS, it is important to see your physician. Comprehensive blood tests can provide insight into your overall health status and identify any hormonal imbalances. These blood tests typically include a complete blood count (CBC), Ferritin, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free T3, cortisol, fasting insulin and glucose, and testosterone levels.

Turning the Tables on PCOS: Empowering Diet and Lifestyle Strategies

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is key to managing PCOS symptoms and improving your overall wellbeing. This involves a mix of dietary changes, regular physical activity, and certain supplements, as necessary:

Dietary Changes

  • Eat regularly: Ensure you eat four to five meals or snacks every day, including breakfast. Skipping meals can disrupt your blood sugar levels.
  • Low-glycemic diet: Foods that have a low glycemic index (GI) can reduce androgens by up to 20%. This means focusing on whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables while limiting processed foods.
  • Increase fiber: Without enough fiber, testosterone can be reabsorbed in the gut and reused in the body, which can worsen PCOS symptoms. Fiber-rich foods include whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Limit dairy and added sugars: Dairy can increase inflammation, and added sugars can increase serum insulin and IGF – 1, both of which can raise androgen levels.
  • Healthy fats: Moderate portions of healthy fats, such as olive and canola oils, walnuts, almonds, and avocados, can help balance your diet.

Physical Activity

  • Regular Exercise: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week. This could be a brisk walk, cycling, swimming, or any activity that gets your heart rate up.
  • Strength Training: Increase muscle mass with strength-training exercises at least two times a week. This could involve lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises, or participating in a group fitness class.
  • Yoga: Research shows yoga is more effective than other exercises in improving insulin resistance in PCOS.

Supplementation

  • Zinc: This mineral plays an important role in sexual development, menstruation, and ovulation. Zinc deficiency is associated with higher androgen levels and acne. Consider consuming zinc-rich foods or supplements, under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
  • Omega-3: This anti-inflammatory nutrient can improve overall health. Fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts are good sources of omega-3, or you may consider a supplement.
  • Chromium Picolinate: This supplement may help lower serum insulin and glucose levels. It's always best to discuss new supplements with a healthcare provider.
  • Inositol: This B-complex vitamin is known to improve insulin sensitivity. There are two promising inositol supplements for correcting PCOS, D-chiro-inositol (DCI) and myo-inositol (MI).
  • Vitamin D: Adequate levels of this vitamin are essential for overall health. Consider a supplement if you're not getting enough through diet and sun exposure.
  • Cinnamon: Adding cinnamon to your diet may help lower insulin and glucose levels. It's a simple and tasty addition to many meals and drinks.

Acing the PCOS Game: Your Ultimate Diet and Lifestyle Guide

Registered Dietitians are equipped to guide you through your journey in managing PCOS. To assess your symptoms, track your progress, and provide personalized dietary recommendations, book a consultation here.

Remember, in the fight against PCOS, you are not alone. By understanding this condition, staying proactive with your health, and seeking expert guidance, you can navigate your PCOS journey effectively. Reach out to a Registered Dietitian at Fay for a personal consultation. You've got this!



The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Fay and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Fay only to confirm educational value and audience interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with a healthcare provider.


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Gia Eapen, MD

Written by Gia Eapen, MD

Dr. Gia Eapen is a skilled Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB/GYN) physician at Case Western/MetroHealth. A Northwestern University alumna, she pursued her medical degree at the University of Vermont, fostering a deep understanding of women's health and reproductive medicine. She combines her comprehensive knowledge with a dedication to patient-centered care, embodying a commitment to enhancing healthcare standards in her field.

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