POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME is a diagnosis that more and more (young) women have to face – but a diagnosis that not all doctors know how to explain well.
Here is everything you need to know about PCOS. Sit back, relax and read on 😉 .
WHAT IS PCOS?
IMAGINE A BUNCH OF GREEDY LOOKING EGG FOLLICLES BOXING WITH EACH OTHER IN THE OVARIES. That’s PCOS.
IT IS HORMONAL IMBALANCE RESULTING IN MULTIPLE RIPE FOLLICLES IN THE OVARIES. Since there are so many ripe follicles, they compete with each other and it’s difficult for any of them to become the actual egg that will then go on to the womb. These competing eggs make it difficult to get pregnant (problems with fertility) and are also the reason why you might be missing out on your cycles (this is called anovulation).
SHOULD YOU SEE A GYN?
IF YOUR TIME OF THE MONTH HAS CHANGED IN FREQUENCY (infrequent/stopped), or if you are experiencing unwanted hair growth (hirsutism) it would be good to see a gynaecologist in order to get some answers about what’s going on. A gynaecologist usually makes the diagnosis PCOS based on blood tests and an ultrasound. I know it’s scary as hell to think you might need to see a gynaecologist. The only thing I can say is that you’ll be glad that you did it once you get it over with!
IF YOU GET THE DIAGNOSIS, here’s what you can do about it:
HOW TO TREAT PCOS
ALTHOUGH PCOS IS NOT YET ENTIRELY DECIPHERED, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it is connected to insulin resistance. The good news is that interventions that target a healthier glucose and insulin metabolism, also work against PCOS.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR TO REFER YOU TO A GOOD DIETITIAN (not just any dietitian, but a good dietitian). Make sure you are eating foods with a low-glycemic index and high in fiber. Drink mostly (sparkling) water. Avoid sugary drinks and soda.
GET YOUR BODY MOVING by taking on a sport you love, and making sure to take a walk more often. A good time to aim for is 150 minutes of exercise per week – so about 25 minutes of exercise per day. Studies (see sources below) have shown that lifestyle intervention with diet and exercise helps improve insulin resistance and prevent diabetes (which can result from PCOS). In some studies, exercise also had a beneficial effect on hirsutism. The effect of lifestyle intervention on infertility has not been well studied, but it is known that obesity is unfavorable for fertility. Lifestyle interventions are effective in achieving weight loss to a healthy weight (BMI 19-24), and could hence contribute to higher chance of fertility.
3. GET YOURSELF A GOOD ENDOCRINOLOGIST
What is an endo..ologist? Internists who know about all the hormonal disbalances in the body are called endocrinologists.
Above all, PCOS seems to be an endocrine disorder. Hormones are out of balance. By seeing a good endocrinologist, you can find out if you have hormone imbalances and you can discuss any possible drug interventions, if that might be necessary. A consultation with a good endocrinologist will you bring you more joy than spending vast amounts of money on non-evidence based treatments.
Promises of PCOS treatment with superfoods, strange supplements and other unsafe methods are not evidence-based. Some PCOS forums promote superfoods as an intervention. However, up till now there has not been any research into superfoods and PCOS. I would warmly advise you to focus your energy in the interventions mentioned above rather than experimenting with uneffective options.
PCOS & OTHER DISEASES
It’s important to deal with PCOS effectively because treating PCOS can help you prevent other diseases which have been found to be correlated with it:
ASK YOUR DOCTOR TO CHECK YOUR cholesterol levels, blood pressure and glucose levels regularly, to make sure you have a grip on these factors.
PCOS RISK FACTORS
We might not know everything about PCOS yet, but the thing to remember is that you’re not alone. Many women out there are dealing with the same problem, and many medical professionals are ready to stand by your side.
Feel free to print out this post and bring it with you to your medical consultation.
We’ve covered a lot of aspects of PCOS in this post and I can imagine it’s a lot to process. Well done on sticking through it! Let me know if you have any questions or remarks by leaving a comment below. Good on you for taking care of your health.
Have a great day,