Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine system disorder that affects a woman’s hormonal level. This means that women with PCOS produce higher than normal levels of male hormones, causing a hormonal imbalance that leads to several health issues.
PCOS particularly affects women of childbearing age. This hormonal imbalance causes women to miss their periods, making it difficult to conceive. It can also lead to long-term health issues like diabetes and heart disease.
Postmenopausal women with PCOS, especially those with diabetes, are at high risk of developing clinical heart disease. What is surprising is that 70% of women with PCOS are unaware of the problem until it becomes a life-changing truth.
This article talks about the symptoms, causes, and other related aspects to help women identify PCOS and take steps that can help them.
There are a number of symptoms that indicate a woman has been affected by PCOS. Let’s look at a few.
1. Irregular rules
Women affected by PCOS admit that they have fewer periods than normal women. Usually, women have 11 to 12 menstrual cycles per year, however, women affected by PCOS have about 8 or even less.
Some women even have lighter bleeding during their cycles, due to lack of ovulation preventing excretion through their uterine lining.
Late periods can cause heavy bleeding. When a woman has a late period, the lining of her uterus takes longer to form and becomes thicker than during a regular period. As a result, each time a woman with PCOS has her period, she bleeds more and has more periods than usual.
2. Hair growth
More than 70% of women affected by PCOS have continuous hair growth on their body and face. In fact, hair growth can also occur on your back, stomach, and chest.
Due to the predominance of male hormones, people affected by PCOS have oilier skin than normal women. This can lead to rashes on the chest, face, and upper back.
4. Weight gain
Nearly 80% of women affected by PCOS are either overweight or worse, obese. This is because of the imbalance in insulin levels.
If you have PCOS, your body will overproduce insulin in an attempt to maintain normal blood sugar levels, which often leads to increased production of androgens (male hormones) and subsequent weight gain.
Women affected by PCOS lose their hair due to high levels of androgens. In fact, their baldness will be similar to that of men, such as frontal hair loss or thinning of the scalp.
6. The darkness of the skin
The high level of insulin in the blood of suffering women can sometimes cause patches of dark skin on the back of the neck, under the arms and in the groin area.
Are these symptoms conclusive evidence to prove that a woman has been affected by PCOS?
People cannot come to a direct conclusion that women with the above symptoms have been affected by PCOS. But even though doctors have confirmed PCOS, women should not give up hope as there are very good treatments for the problem. Of course, affected women need to make lifestyle changes and follow the PCOS diet. If they consistently follow the PCOS diet and exercise meticulously, they can overcome the problem and lead a healthy life.
Causes of PCOS
There are various factors that can cause a woman’s body to overproduce male hormones and thus cause hormonal imbalance leading to PCOS. Let’s look separately at the 3 main factors that cause PCOS
Several studies have been conducted to prove that PCOS is a genetic condition. The results reveal that if the mother or grandmother had PCOS, the daughter or granddaughter is also likely to be affected.
However, it must be noted that it is not a single gene that can be held responsible for PCOS. A number of genes work together for this condition.
2. Insulin resistance
Studies carried out on a number of women affected by PCOS show concomitant problems with insulin resistance. Conversely, the chances of people with the problem of insulin resistance being affected by PCOS are high.
The reason for this is that the body cells of women with PCOS do not use insulin properly. If insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, does not help the body to use the sugar contained in the food which it consumes, its body will always need insulin. Consequently, the pancreas will overwork and secrete more insulin.
Due to this extra insulin, the ovaries produce higher amounts of male hormones which dominate the body, thus causing severe symptoms and ultimately leading to PCOS. Being overweight or obese is another factor that can lead to insulin resistance.
Inflammation in women has strong links to higher levels of androgen, a male hormone. In other words, higher levels of male hormones cause inflammation and therefore women with PCOS are likely to experience inflammation as well. Obesity and excess weight can also cause inflammation.
What foods should women with PCOS add to their diet?
Women affected by PCOS should add generous amounts of fiber-rich foods to their diet. Foods rich in fiber will help overcome the problem of insulin resistance by also delaying the digestion process and reducing the negative effects of sugar on the system.
Some of the high fiber foods they can eat in abundance are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, green vegetables like spinach, lettuce, green and red peppers; beans, lentils, berries, squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkins.
Lean protein foods such as chicken, tofu, and fish may not provide affected women with good amounts of fiber, but women who eat these foods may feel full. Therefore, these foods can be excellent dietary options for women with PCOS.
They should also opt for anti-inflammatory spices and foods such as tomatoes, turmeric, etc. A few other foods that can reduce inflammation are kale, almonds, walnuts, and olive oil.
Fruits like strawberries and blueberries can be beneficial and can also reduce inflammation. Foods that can provide a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids can also be beneficial for affected women. Some examples of these foods are fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel.
Foods to avoid on the PCOS diet
In general, people on a PCOS diet should avoid foods widely considered unhealthy. Here are some examples :
- Refined carbohydrates like mass pastries and white bread.
- Fried foods, including fast food.
- Sodas and energy drinks and other sugary drinks.
- Hot dogs, sausages and deli meats are examples of processed meats.
- Margarine, shortening and lard are examples of solid fats.
- Excessive consumption of red meat like steaks, burgers, and pork causes inflammation.
These foods will increase insulin resistance, which will lead to the problems mentioned above. Therefore, affected women should try to avoid or drastically limit the consumption of these foods.
Diet plan for women affected by PCOS
Below are some tips that women affected by PCOS can follow.
- Make sure to eat a nutritious breakfast that excludes high carbs or inflammation-causing ingredients. Remember never to skip breakfast as this will cause you to overeat during the midday meal and therefore cause your insulin to spike.
- Drinking water about 30 minutes before meals can help control overeating and help you feel full.
- Eat slowly and chew your food carefully, as this would improve digestion and reduce the chances of insulin resistance and subsequent weight gain.
- Finish your dinner at least 2 hours before bedtime. Delayed dinners will lead to indigestion and cause trouble sleeping. This can reduce the body’s ability to repair itself.
- Women with PCOS are advised to follow a set diet that provides weight management. Divide large meals into smaller portions and eat every two hours. This is a proven method that can help maintain weight.
Sample PCOS Diet Plan
|07:00||Methi seed powder + water|
|8:00 a.m.||2 small vegetable dosa/cheela and green chutney OR Vegetable omelet and 2 whole grain toast|
|11:00||Fruit salad (1 katori) OR 1 glass of buttermilk with 1 tsp flax seeds OR 1 serving of seasonal fruit + 1 tsp pumpkin seeds OR 1 yield of coconut water + 1 tsp chia seeds|
|1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.||Mixed vegetable salad (1 katori), 1 multigrain/whole wheat/millet roti + ½ katori brown rice and mixed vegetable sabzi OR Pulao of millet with vegetables and cucumber raita|
|4:30 p.m.||Puffed Rice + Roasted Chana – 1 Katori and tea/coffee with less sugar/without sugar|
|7:30 p.m.||1 Chapathi/roasted millet and methi dal (1 katori)ORVegetable oats masala (1 katori)|
Lifestyle modifications for women with PCOS
- Give importance to physical activities. Experts suggest that women with PCOS should get at least 150 minutes of exercise or workout each week. This means about 30 minutes of exercise per day.
- Get enough sleep. People who are sleep deprived tend to overeat the next day. This gradually leads to obesity or overweight.
- Learn to manage your stress level. Stress is another factor that can increase insulin resistance and cause type 2 diabetes. Experts suggest yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises for better stress management.
- Remember never to lose confidence in yourself. The medical world has come out with several mind-blowing innovations and as a result, is not too far from a safe treatment for PCOS. Until then, healthy food and lifestyle decisions are the way to go!
To sum up, women who have been affected by PCOS can fight this problem and live a healthy and normal life by meticulously following the right diet and making some lifestyle changes. In short, their life should be a collection of all good things.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. How can I quickly reduce my PCOS?
A. PCOS can be reduced by conscious diet and lifestyle changes. Be sure to eat a well-balanced breakfast, excluding high-carb carbs or inflammation-causing ingredients. Divide large meals into smaller portions and eat every two hours. Eat slowly to reduce the risk of insulin resistance. Eat your dinner at least 2 hours before going to bed. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day and get enough sleep.
2. How can I resolve PCOS naturally?
PCOS is caused by hormonal imbalances in the body and can be naturally controlled. Diet is one of the most important factors to help get rid of PCOS symptoms. Never skip breakfast and make sure it is nutritious. Avoid all kinds of foods that can cause insulin spikes or inflammation. Chew your food thoroughly to improve digestion and weight management. Eat smaller meals every two hours instead of three large meals. Sleep well and avoid stress. Engage in physical activities for weight and stress management.
3. Can PCOS be controlled?
Yes, PCOS can be largely controlled. All you have to do is watch what you eat and how it affects your body. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as mass-produced pastries and white bread, fried foods, including fast foods. Sodas and energy drinks and other sugary drinks should not be on your list. All of these foods cause insulin resistance and worsen the PCOS condition. Inflammation consumption of red meat, such as steaks, burgers, and pork, should also be moderate.
4. Which exercise is best for PCOS?
Moderate exercise greatly benefits women with PCOS. For example, walking 30 minutes 3 days a week can help you lose weight and manage your insulin levels.. Practicing moderate exercise routines causes your heart to beat at around 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. Walking, biking, dancing, or taking an aerobics class would be best. If you’re short on time, investing in a mat and a well-cushioned pair of shoes will help you jog in place from the comfort of your home.
5. Is Egg good for PCOS?
Yes, eggs are great for women with PCOS. They help provide needed protein, iron, omega 3 fatty acids, etc. that improve PCOS symptoms.
6. What is the best age to get pregnant with PCOS?
Women with PCOS have been observed to experience a delayed reduction in their level of fertility compared to others. Given this, the most fertile years for a woman with PCOS are approximately between the ages of 22 and 40.
7. Can PCOS be cured with exercise?
Exercise alone won’t cure PCOS, but when accompanied by a diet rich in protein, minerals, vitamins, and calcium, it can help you lose weight in a healthy way. Losing even a small percentage of your body weight can help reduce your risk of PCOS.
8. Can PCOS go away with weight loss?
Weight loss surely helps with PCOS symptoms like regularity of periods. In addition, a decrease in weight improves insulin sensitivity, causing a positive training effect.
9. Can I lose weight with PCOS?
Yes, you can lose weight with PCOS. Although the result may be slightly delayed compared to those that are not, consistency is key. Additionally, losing weight while suffering from PCOS benefits its symptoms and creates a positive feedback loop in which insulin sensitivity and hormonal balance in the body improve.
10. Can PCOS be cured by yoga?
Regular yoga practice can help relieve PCOS symptoms. Doing yoga reduces the levels of male hormones in the female body. Weight gain is a causative factor for PCOS. Yoga helps to lose weight by stimulating metabolic processes. It improves the BMR in the body and stimulates the burning of calories in the body. Additionally, it reduced PCOS-induced stress, anxiety, and depression. It reduces pressure by stimulating de-stressing hormones and relaxing the body. Reducing stress hormones reduces oxidative stress in the body.
11. Which fruits are good for PCOS?
Fruits like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, berries, pears, oranges, figs and kiwis. are good for PCOS because they help reduce inflammation.
12. Are bananas good for PCOS?
Bananas are high in potassium and low in sugar, making them ideal for people with PCOS. Hyperinsulinemia can be a problem for people with polycystic ovary syndrome, so foods with a good balance of protein and carbohydrates, such as bananas, can help.
13. How do you get your period if you have PCOS?
People with PCOS usually have irregular or infrequent periods. This needs to be fixed, and one of the main ways is to follow the “seed cycle” method. Consuming 1 teaspoon of seeds like sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds should be consumed alternately to help improve hormonal balance as well as frequency and regularity of periods
14. Is coffee good for PCOS?
No coffee is not recommended for those suffering from PCOS. It can upset already imbalanced hormonal levels and even interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.