If you’re looking for information on PCOS, you’re in the right place. Read on to discover everything you need to know about PCOS.
PCOS is one of the most common hormone imbalances among women of childbearing age, but what exactly is it? We’ll tell you.
Read on to discover all you need to know about PCOS, including what causes it, how it’s treated, and more.
Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
What Is the Definition of PCOS?
According to the experts from the Office on Women’s Health, PCOS is the acronym for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It describes numerous small cysts (AKA fluid-filled sacs) that form in the ovaries. Caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women.
PCOS affects 20 percent of women. The hormonal disorder is chronic and incurable.
What Are the Symptoms of PCOS?
PCOS can vary from person to person. However, the three main features of the hormonal condition include:
- Irregular periods; your ovaries don’t ovulate as they should.
- Excess androgens — or high levels of “male” hormones — in the body may cause physical changes, such as thick facial or body hair.
- Ovarian cysts that are visible on an ultrasound, meaning more than 20 follicles are visible on one or both ovaries.
More often than not, if you have at least two of these symptoms, you may be diagnosed with PCOS. Other symptoms of PCOS include:
- Very light periods or missed periods
- Oily skin and acne
- High cholesterol
- Darkening of the skin
- Abnormal hair growth (hirsutism)
- Skin tags
- Thinning hair or male pattern baldness
- Weight gain
According to research, those with PCOS are at an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and endometrial cancer.
What Causes PCOS?
Unfortunately, the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but many experts believe that several factors can play a role, including:
- Resistance to insulin
- Hormone imbalance
- Low-grade inflammation
What Are the Treatments for PCOS?
As mentioned previously, PCOS is incurable, but there are many things you can do to manage your symptoms — here are some of them:
- Reduce your carb intake
- Fill up on fiber
- Eat more lean protein
- Swap saturated fats for healthy fats
- Nosh on fermented foods
- Practice mindful eating
- Cut back on processed foods
- Nix added sugars and artificial sweeteners
- Exercise regularly
- Get enough quality sleep
- Keep stress in check
In addition to making healthy lifestyle and dietary changes, your doctor may recommend birth control pills to help regulate fluctuating hormones and menstruation. Metformin is a drug that is also commonly used to help improve insulin levels in those with PCOS.
Surgery is another option if other treatments don’t work. Ovarian drilling is a procedure that makes pin-size holes in the ovary with a small laser or thin heated needle to restore normal ovulation.
What Are the Best Foods To Eat With PCOS?
Although there isn’t an official cure, there are three well-known diets that many people with PCOS swear by in the management of their symptoms. Those diets are as follows:
- A low glycemic index (GI) diet: Your body digests foods with a low GI at a much slower rate, meaning they don’t cause insulin levels to spike as quickly as other foods like refined carbohydrates. Some of the best low GI diet foods you can fill up on include whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, and starchy veggies.
- The DASH Diet: or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, is an eating plan commonly recommended by doctors to reduce the risk or impact of heart disease. Some experts say that it may also help manage PCOS symptoms.
- An anti-inflammatory diet: a diet rich in berries, fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, and leafy greens may reduce inflammation. Those with PCOS often have high inflammation markers which can lead to symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, and poor concentration. So by eating anti-inflammatory foods, you might be able to reduce inflammation in your body.
When Should You See a Doctor for PCOS?
Think you might have PCOS? Make an appointment to see your healthcare provider if:
- You have the telltale symptoms of PCOS, such as excessive hair growth on your face.
- You’ve missed periods — and you’re not expecting.
- You have signs or symptoms of diabetes, like blurred vision, excess thirst, or unexplained weight loss.
- You’re struggling to get pregnant or have been unsuccessful for more than 12 months.
Note: If your menstrual cycle is already irregular or absent and you’re trying to conceive, don’t wait an entire year before making an appointment with your doctor. See a specialist to get evaluated sooner rather than later.
Simply put, PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome and refers to a hormonal disorder that’s caused by larger-than-normal ovaries with cysts.
Although experts aren’t sure of the exact cause, it’s thought to be driven by two big factors: heredity and hormones. That said, some external factors — like dietary habits — can also play a role.
If you think that you might have PCOS, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to get checked out. Many ladies with PCOS have insulin resistance which may cause higher androgen levels, requiring medications to keep the body functioning optimally.