PCOS has become very common in women nowadays and yet we are not equipped with all the important details. It is a condition that affects a majority of women everywhere and can be a risky factor causing other serious illnesses. Here, in this article, you will discover all the details about PCOS and will get a clearer view of how to manage it and improve your health.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that can have various symptoms. For example, in some women, PCOS can cause enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. Although PCOS is common in women of reproductive age, the exact cause is still unknown. Women with PCOS can face some or many of the following issues:
- Irregular periods
- Production of male hormones
- Cysts in the ovaries
A PCOS patient can be identified if they have some or all of the above conditions. There are 3 types of PCOS:
- Insulin Resistant: Almost 70% of females suffer from this type of PCOS where their body’s response to insulin hormone is affected.
- Inflammatory PCOS: In this type of PCOS women have elevated CRP (C- reactive protein) levels suggesting that some kind of inflammation is present in the body.
- Adrenal PCOS: In this type of PCOS, you might be feeling constant stress and your DHEA levels might also be high.
PCOS v/s PCOD v/s PCO
You might have heard about PCOS and PCOD terms that are used interchangeably quite a lot. That is because they are referring to the same condition. They just vary in their full form where PCOD stands for Polycystic Ovarian Disease and PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Both have the same symptoms and similar causes. Another term related to PCOS is PCO which stands for Polycystic Ovaries. Here, the ovaries have partially mature follicles and generally have no symptoms nor does it affect a woman’s fertility in most cases. It is different from PCOS as PCOS is a complex condition that affects a woman mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Symptoms of PCOS
There is no definite list of symptoms that a PCOS patient might experience. They may or may not have any symptoms given here. Down below, you can find the most common symptoms seen in PCOS patients:
- Irregular periods
- Excess hair growth on the face, chest, tummy, and lower back
- Chronic acne
- Hair thinning or hair fall
- Painful periods
- Rapid weight gain
- Infertility or difficulty in getting pregnant
- Dark skin patches
- High cortisol levels (stress hormone)
So, if you are experiencing some of these symptoms then make sure to consult a doctor.
How to Diagnose PCOS?
If you are experiencing the above symptoms, then it is important to diagnose them. This simply means to discuss your symptoms with a gynecologist and take their advice. Your doctor might suggest you get an ultrasound of the lower abdomen which can clearly show the size and location of the cyst if it is present. This is not a definitive test for PCOS as there are cases when no cysts are present. So, it is also advisable to get your hormones checked; majorly TSH, LH, Testosterone, Dhea, insulin, etc.
How does PCOS Affect your Body?
Having PCOS can affect your body and be a cause of other health issues as well. Some of the common effects of PCOS are the following:
- Complications with fertility: As PCOS is a disorder affecting the ovaries, it disturbs the process of ovulation leading to difficulty in getting pregnant.
- Depression and anxiety: PCOS leads to hormonal imbalances and altered brain chemistry which results in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. In fact, around 34% of women with PCOS suffer from such issues.
- Eating disorder: The various symptoms related to PCOS can lead to body image issues in some women which may lead to certain eating disorders.
- Sleep Apnea: It is a sleep disorder that is more common in overweight women with PCOS. It includes episodes of repeated pauses in breathing while sleeping.
- Metabolic Syndrome: Women suffering from PCOS are at a greater risk of having metabolic syndrome which is a group of conditions consisting of increased blood pressure, increased sugar levels, abdominal fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. A person who has this syndrome is more vulnerable to heart diseases, diabetes, and stroke.
- Endometrial Cancer: This cancer develops in the uterus beginning in the layer of cells that form the lining of the uterus. Having PCOS can increase the risk of getting endometrial cancer due to hormonal imbalances occurring in the body.
Is PCOS Curable?
As you are now familiar with the symptoms and effects of PCOS on your body and health, the next question arises of how to cure PCOS. And the certain answer to this is that PCOS is not an illness, rather it is a disorder in your ovaries that cannot be changed. Hence, it cannot be cured. However, it can be managed and the symptoms can be reversed with proper lifestyle changes.
What can you do to Improve PCOS?
So, what can you do to improve and reverse PCOS?
Generally, your doctor might prescribe you some medicines and they help in most cases. But, making lifestyle changes will help you the best in the long run. Let’s dig into some sustainable and healthy lifestyle changes that can be made to improve the symptoms of PCOS:
- Reduce Processed food: Exclude highly processed food like white bread, refined carbs, sugary drinks, and others as they are known to increase insulin resistance. This creates difficulty in losing weight and thus can worsen a PCOS patient’s situation.
- Low GI food: Having low Glycemic Index (GI) food can improve your insulin levels as they control the sugar levels and thus can help in PCOS. Examples of low GI food include green vegetables, chickpeas, lentils, etc.
- Healthy Diet: A healthy diet for a PCOS patient should include whole foods, grains, fruits, tons of vegetables, and lean proteins like chicken, and fish. A combination of high fiber, low GI, and low-fat diets works best for most people.
- Sleep: Sleep is an essential part of your lifestyle, it helps in rejuvenating the body. At least 7-9 hours of sleep is important.
- Exercise: Of course when we are talking about a healthy lifestyle, exercise has to be a part of it. Having any physical activity regularly can bring unexpectedly good changes in your overall health. Focus more on resistance training instead of cardio. Cardio is important but 10-15 mins of it are more than enough in your routine. And add yoga as well to your routine at least 3 times per week.
- Mental health: A healthy mind is a key to everything so taking care of your mental health is of utmost importance. Practicing 5-10 mins of deep breathing, going for walks, writing journals, talking to friends or family or a therapist can help a lot.
It can be hard living with PCOS and it can even make your weight loss difficult. But, you need to remember that this is just a condition that can be managed with a good healthy lifestyle. You do not have to be harsh on yourself. It will take time but will surely happen.
We hope by now you have more clarity on PCOS, its symptoms, and how you can get PCOS under control. If this helped you, please leave your thoughts and questions in the comments down below.
I’m suffering from PCOS from almost 9 years.
I consulted with many doctors, though it’s not cured yet…just read your article… I’ll try to be on healthy diet hope this help me out.
Suggest me some tips please.
Oh! A healthy lifestyle with a nutritious diet will definitely help and as for tips, I’ve already talked about most of them in the article🌺 If you wish to take up a customized diet plan, please let me know 🤗
Yess even i think a customised general diet for the pcos persons should be made . I would really appreciate it 😭
Hey Saijal, you can fill out the enrollment form in the contact us section and reach out to me on WhatsApp 🤗