After infertility, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the leading cause of female infertility. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that affects about five million women in America and up to 20% of young, overweight women may develop this condition. Being overweight or obese makes it more difficult for insulin – the hormone responsible for turning sugar into energy – to enter into cells, where it can do its job. Cells become resistant to insulin and sugar accumulates in the bloodstream leading to diabetes, PCOS, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.
When you have PCOS, your ovaries produce more estrogen than normal which stimulates the production of testosterone. If left untreated, this condition can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and endometrial cancer. There is no cure for PCOS but there are effective treatments and many ways you can reduce the troubling symptoms and prevent long-term consequences of this disorder.
1) The first step should be to follow a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid simple sugars and processed carbohydrates. Get rid of white foods in your diet such as white bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes. Try to reduce the amount of red meat you consume.
2) Exercise is a key factor when reducing PCOS symptoms since it works to balance hormone levels, lower blood glucose and insulin resistance that leads to obesity. You should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. Begin slowly and build up your activity level gradually. You can either do moderate-intensity aerobic exercises, such as walking or swimming, or high-intensity anaerobic exercise which includes strength training and Crossfit.
3) Stress is also a major factor in PCOS which makes it difficult for women to lose weight so you need to learn ways to manage stress effectively. Meditation, prayer, yoga, and breathing exercises are great ways to reduce feelings of anxiety and stay calm in stressful situations.
4) The herb cinnamon has insulin mimicking properties that may be beneficial when managing PCOS symptoms due to its ability to lower blood sugar levels when consumed regularly in small doses. Cinnamon is believed to work by activating insulin receptors and increasing the uptake of glucose from the blood into cells.
5) Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil or flaxseed oil has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity which will help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease. It may also help reduce inflammation within the body that can worsen PCOS.
6) If you are overweight, aim to lose about 11–22 pounds (5–10 kilograms). It will lower your levels of testosterone and blood pressure. Studies have shown that losing weight can begin to reverse some of the hormonal imbalances. Try eating several small meals every day instead of the traditional three large ones. This will help you avoid insulin spikes and keep your blood sugar levels under control.
7) Increase intake of plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes which are rich in antioxidants. They will protect your cells from the damage caused by high levels of estrogen. Eat foods that are rich in phytoestrogens such as flaxseeds, soybeans, apples, and pears to reduce your testosterone levels. These foods will also help you balance your hormone levels and increase your chances of getting pregnant.
For more information on how to fight gynecological conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ovarian cysts – visit Dr. Sushmita Mukherjee, who is a gynecologist in Indore, India.