Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), is a common hormonal disorder that interferes with the growth and release of eggs from a woman’s ovaries. PCOS occurs when a woman’s body overproduces sex hormones, called androgens. The hormone imbalance prevents fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries from breaking open and releasing mature eggs. The ovaries become enlarged and appear covered with pearl-sized, fluid-filled, cysts.
The most common cause of infertility among women, PCOS causes complex changes in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, causing an imbalance of hormones that affect a woman’s ovulation. Although there is no cure for PCOS, it can be treated with medical management and lifestyle modifications.
PCOS is often overlooked and undiagnosed because its symptoms appear to be unrelated to one another. The signs and symptoms of PCOS, range from physical changes to a woman’s body, to her mental state or reproductive cycle. Because PCOS is related to other medical conditions, it is difficult to diagnosis with a single test.
Women who have PCOS may experience physical changes such as weight gain, excess hair on the face and body, darkened patches of skin, skin tags, thinning hair and pelvic pain. Other symptoms of PCOS include an increase of stress levels, anxiety, depression or a decreased sex drive. The production of male hormones, such as androgens, contributes to the symptoms of the condition.
Early diagnosis is important because women with PCOS are at a higher risk for developing insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and heart disease.
The first-line treatment for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a change in lifestyle, including a diet and exercise. Although losing weight can sometimes be challenging for women with PCOS, the weight loss is essential in reducing male hormone levels in the body and will assist in returning women to their natural ovulation cycle. A healthy diet that is low in refined carbohydrates is important, as it helps regulate blood sugar levels. Routine exercise will assist the body in regulating insulin and in keeping off excess weight.
With a proper diagnosis, changes in lifestyle and a treatment plan, The Fertility Institute helps women get relief from this condition and the overwhelming health problems it can cause.
The PCOS Diet
Eating well, staying active, and maintaining a healthy weight can improve PCOS symptoms.
The PCOS diet includes protein foods such as beans, hummus, nuts, peanut butter, tofu, eggs, fish, chicken, lean meats, and vegetarian meat substitutes. You should incorporate a healthy balance of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plant–based protein and healthy fats. High–fiber grains such as brown rice, whole–wheat pasta, and whole–wheat are preferable to low–fiber grains such as white rice, pasta, or white bread.
Becoming aware of the right foods to choose as well as the kinds of food to limit, will improve the way you feel. It is important to remember that some fats are much healthier than others, such as fats that are found in olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and avocados. These healthy fats and proteins are a better choice for the PCOS diet than butter, margarine, mayonnaise, full–fat cheese and red meat. Combining foods that contain protein or fat with a carbohydrate will help slow down the absorption of the carbohydrate and keep insulin levels low.
After a proper diagnosis, the treatment for PCOS will vary, depending on whether a woman is considering pregnancy, is menopausal, or does not want to conceive. Treating PCOS is mostly dependent on the patient’s ovulatory cycles and may include:
- Birth control pills to regulate menstruation
- Insulin-sensitizing medications
- Ovulation induction to treat infertility
- Androgen-blocking medications
- Topical anti-hair-growth medications
- Other excess hair treatments
- Treatments for hair loss
- Acne treatments
- Removal of other skin problems