PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a condition that affects women. It is caused by an imbalance of a woman’s sex hormones which may lead to:
- Menstrual cycle changes – irregular periods or no periods at all
- Skin problems such as acne, oily skin
- Increased hair growth on the face and body
- loss of hair on head
- Trouble getting pregnant
- Being overweight, rapid increase in weight, difficulty losing weight.
- depression and mood swings
The symptoms may vary from woman to woman. Some women have mild symptoms, while others are affected more severely by a wider range of symptoms
PCOS affects up to 20 percent of women. The cause is not yet known. It may be genetic since women with PCOS are likely to have a mother or sister with PCOS. Women are usually diagnosed in their 20s or 30s, or sometimes when they are teenagers.
Tips to deal with PCOS
- Adopt healthy eating habits. By eating a diet low in carbohydrates and refined sugars you can help reverse the imbalances of glucose and insulin in your body that cause PCOS symptoms to flare up.
- Choose better fats: Limit foods that contain saturated and trans fats. Instead of these choose smaller amounts of healthy unsaturated fats, which are found in vegetable oils like canola and olive oil, avocado and nuts
Increase fibre: Eating more fibre can help maintain blood sugar levels and lower your cholesterol
Enjoy protein: Make sure that you have some protein at every meal and snack. Instead of always choosing meat, try chicken, turkey or fish. Or, try vegetarian options such as legumes, soy or a quarter cup of nuts or seeds. Milk and low fat yogurt are also good sources of protein.
Foods to limit: Choose fewer foods that are high in sugar, salt, refined flour and fat such as: White rice, pasta or bread, baked goods, Regular soda, Candy and chocolate and Salty snacks.
- Fit exercise into your daily routine. Exercise has proven to boost metabolism and burn calories which helps to control insulin levels and, in turn, results in weight loss. Exercise can also help to stave off diabetes, a health risk for women in PCOS. Take exercise regularly (30 minutes at least three times a week). Start with 10 minutes of activity and work up to longer times as your body adjusts.
- Avoid stimulants. Avoid coffee or other stimulants
- Get regular physical exams. Women with PCOS have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. They are also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol. Meeting regularly with your doctor to monitor and treat these issues will help you stay healthy
- Women with PCOS are more prone towards experiencing depression and mood swings. Do something else that you really enjoy doing.
- Ask questions.
With PCOS, there is no one size fits all solution to control the disease. Symptoms vary with each person so you really need to discuss with your gynecologist.
- Get help if you are depressed.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
Medical treatments aim to manage and reduce the symptoms or consequences of having PCOS. Medication alone has not been shown to be any better than healthy lifestyle changes (weight loss and exercise).
Dr. Preeti Tandon,
MBBS, MD(Obs/Gynae), F.MAS(Laparoscopic Surgeon), FICOG,
Diploma in Adv Gynae Endoscopy (France),
Certified Robotic Surgery Training (USA)
Specialist Obstetrics / Gynecology