**This post is not for diagnosis. In every situation, always see your doctor. No medical treatments will be posted here except lifestyle changes.
Prevention is better than cure they say. There are so many medical conditions that requires lifestyle changes as part of the treatment and PCOS is one of them. I promise to be as “lay man” as possible and not use big big grammars in this post without explaining what they mean lol.
What is PCOS?
PCOS known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a disorder of the endocrine system and it is common among women of reproductive age.
Allow me to break it down in simple terms just as the name implies… POLYSCYSTIC
Poly – more than one
Cyst – fluid-filled follicle. The follicle is a sac located in the ovary and, during the menstrual cycle, the egg grows in this sac (follicle). At a point in the cycle (called follicular phase), this sac (I’ll start to use follicle) breaks open and releases an egg but if the follicle doesn’t break open, the fluid inside the follicle can form a cyst on the ovary.
Joining the word together, it simply means more than one fluid-filled follicle in the ovary.
The exact cause is unknown but there are contributing and risk factors which include:
- Hormonal imbalance: excess production of insulin and androgen.
Androgen is a male sex hormone. Normally the ovaries secrete a tiny amount of androgen. In PCOS, they start to secrete more which may cause you to stop ovulating, cause excess facial and body hair and, acne.
Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas. It allows cells use sugar i.e. glucose for energy by the body. Glucose cannot make itself available to the cells so insulin is the vehicle that does the work. If there is insulin resistance, it means the body can no longer use insulin effectively which directly means glucose cannot be available to the cells and the blood sugar level increase so the pancreas has to secrete more insulin to make glucose available to the cells.
Excess insulin may also cause high androgen levels.
- Heredity: there’s a chance of having it if a family member has it.
Signs and Symptoms
- Absent, infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods
- Enlargement of the ovary
- Excess hair growth due to increased level of androgen
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Liver inflammation
- Depression and anxiety
Lifestyle Changes as Prevention and Treatment
- Weight loss is the best for prevention and is usually the first step to treatment.
- Cut your caloric intake: this means eating less than your body requirements for maintenance to bring about weight loss. Use smaller plates and reduce portion sizes.
- Cut down carbs and junk: consider a low-carb diet. The end product of carb is sugar and junk is sugar. Excess sugar in the system causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin which aggravates the release of androgen. So, cutting down your sugar means the amount of insulin secretion becomes reduced which also reduces the symptoms. Say not to sugary drinks/soda, packet fruit juice and even excess homemade juice, ice cream, pizza, donuts etc
- Make healthy swaps: go for foods that causes slow release of insulin and don’t spike the blood sugar. Go for complex carbs and fibre-rich foods e.g. brown rice. sweet potatoes, unripe plantain, oatmeal, beans, vegetables, nuts etc. Also swap vegetable oil with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil
- Limit foods high in saturated fat: vegetable oil, meats, cheese, fried foods.
- Move more: the benefits of exercise cannot be overemphasized. Be active, move more. You can register in a gym or work out in the comfort of your home.
Making lifestyle changes is not the only requirement for treatment. Visiting your doctor is best.
Always remember that your health lies in your hands and you can be your best you!
If you want to see more posts like this, let me know in the comment section. Hope to see you soon!