It can be overwhelming to receive a Polycystic Ovary Syndrome diagnosis. Women often wonder: “What exactly is PCOS, and what does this mean for me?” I often hear women saying that they’re told not to worry about their symptoms. Furthermore, that they can start treating their PCOS when they want to conceive.
However, many women experience daily symptoms associated with their PCOS. These can include weight gain, hair loss, excessive hair growth, anxiety, fatigue, and irregular menstrual cycles. It can truly impact your quality of life, so it’s important to deal with PCOS once you find out you have it.
All the information out there on the internet and social media channels can be overwhelming. Don’t worry! I’m here to help you figure out where to start when it comes to living with PCOS.
Here are some areas to consider after getting a PCOS diagnosis:
Your diet is one of the most important things to consider after a PCOS diagnosis. Everything we eat directly impacts our ability to balance our hormones and keep our body in homeostasis. There are so many diets out there and ways to eat that have been studied. These include the Ketogenic diet, DASH diet1 , and the Low Carbohydrate Diet6. This area can also become overwhelming and can impact our relationship to the foods we eat.
Women with PCOS who were considered obese followed the DASH diet. This is commonly used to reduce the risk of heart disease. Over 8 weeks, the found a reduction in their insulin resistance and belly fat1. The DASH diet mainly focuses on fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products.
Overall, the DASH diet encourages women to choose unprocessed foods that are low in sugar and saturated fats.
Take a look at what you’re eating currently and see how you can adjust your diet. Aim to choose nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats. For further support, see one of our Naturopathic Doctors. We can guide you using an individualized approach on your specific needs and lifestyle.
Exercise is also an incredibly important lifestyle component for managing PCOS. When it comes to improving insulin resistance, research shows that vigorous aerobic exercise and resistance training can help improve insulin sensitivity4. Additionally, evidence shows that exercise mitigates cardiovascular disease risk in women with PCOS5. Yoga is another form of exercise that has shown to be beneficial for women with this condition. Regular mindful yoga during the week seems to improve androgen levels3.
Ultimately, the thing to keep in mind is to get your body moving in any way you can. This will look different for each person! Find an exercise that you enjoy doing, which you can incorporate into your routine regularly.
The world of supplementation is vast, especially when it comes to PCOS and all of the research we now have on the topic. Choosing supplements for your body can be very confusing. Additionally, there are so many good choices to choose from to help with balancing hormones and reducing inflammation. These can range from myo-inositol2, zinc2, and NAC2 to chromium2, spearmint, etc. The list goes on. This is where a professional can help develop a plan that is specific to the root cause of your individual PCOS.
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- Asemi, Z., & Esmaillzadeh, A. (2015). DASH diet, insulin resistance, and serum hs-CRP in polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Hormone and Metabolic Research, 47(3), 232–238. https://www.thieme-connect.de/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-0034-1376990
- Günalan, E., Yaba, A., & Yılmaz, B. (2018). The effect of nutrient supplementation in the management of polycystic ovary syndrome-associated metabolic dysfunctions: A critical review. Journal of the Turkish German Gynecological Association, 19(4), 220–232. https://doi.org/10.4274/jtgga.2018.0077
- Patel, V., Menezes, H., Menezes, C., Bouwer, S., Bostick-Smith, C. A., & Speelman, D. L. (2020). Regular mindful yoga practice as a method to improve androgen levels in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized, controlled trial. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 120(5), 323–335. https://doi.org/10.7556/jaoa.2020.050
- Shele, G., Genkil, J., & Speelman, D. (2020, June 1). A systematic review of the effects of exercise on hormones in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, Vol. 5. https://doi.org/10.3390/jfmk5020035
- Woodward, A., Klonizakis, M., & Broom, D. (2020). Exercise and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. In Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology (Vol. 1228, pp. 123–136). https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-15-1792-1_8
- Zhang, X., Zheng, Y., Guo, Y., & Lai, Z. (2019). The Effect of Low Carbohydrate Diet on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/4386401