Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common female hormonal disorder, affecting approximately 5%-10% of all females. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that involves multiple tissues and organ systems within the body, and is believed to be fundamentally caused by insensitivity to the hormone insulin Diet and Nutrition play a large role in treatment of this disorder, and food is medicine in this disease state. Registered Dietitians can help to maintain weight, and alleviate some of the symptoms by adjusting diet and lifestyle choices. Here are some important things to remember if you have been diagnosed with PCOS:
Signs and Symptoms:
According to MayoClinic the symptoms often begin soon after menarche, but it can also develop later in life. Infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne, and obesity can all occur in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Additionally, PCOS is also the most common cause of female infertility.
Insulin resistance occurs frequently in those with PCOS, meaning the body cannot use insulin effectively to regulate blood sugar. This can result in high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. The long-term complications are quite serious and include heart disease and stroke. Compared with women of a similar age who don’t have polycystic ovary syndrome, women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese.
When to see a doctor
Early diagnosis and treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome may help reduce your risk of long-term complications. Talk with your doctor if you have menstrual irregularities — such as infrequent periods, prolonged periods or no menstrual periods — and have excess hair on your face and body or acne. Regular checkups are key to timely diagnosis. Find a medical professional that specializes in PCOS here
There is no cure to PCOS, but there are methods to control it and reduce the risk including:
- Weight control
- regular exercise
- healthy diet
- not smoking
Lifestyle modification through diet is an effective and important part of the treatment for PCOS. There is no doubt that making changes to your eating can result in weight loss, improved fertility, and overall improvement in health. Obesity makes insulin resistance worse, and weight loss can reduce both insulin and androgen levels and restore ovulation. Exercise also helps lower blood sugar levels, so should be part of your daily regime. A Registered Dietitian would be able to help you create a meal plan for optimal health; find one near you!
While PCOS is a serious condition, through behavior and lifestyle modifications the symptoms can be treated and reduced. Registered Dietitians are here to help you become a healthier you! Newly diagnosed? Check out the MayoClinic or PCOS Support pages.
Do you or anyone you know have PCOS? What has been some of your experiences and what role did you find diet played?