What You Need to Know to Navigate Life With PCOS

What You Need to Know to Navigate Life With PCOS?

What is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. In PCOS, the ovaries may become enlarged and contain small cysts, which are fluid-filled sacs.

The exact cause of PCOS is not known, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. One of the key features of PCOS is an imbalance in reproductive hormones, specifically higher levels of androgens (male hormones) and lower levels of progesterone. This hormonal imbalance can disrupt the normal ovulation process and lead to various symptoms and complications.

Symptoms of PCOS can vary among individuals but may include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles: Women with PCOS often experience infrequent, irregular, or prolonged menstrual periods, or may even have a complete absence of periods.
  • Hyperandrogenism: Excess androgens in the body can cause symptoms such as hirsutism (excessive hair growth on the face, chest, or abdomen), acne, and male-pattern baldness.
  • Polycystic ovaries: On ultrasound examination, the ovaries may appear enlarged and contain multiple small cysts. However, not all women with PCOS have polycystic ovaries, and the presence of cysts alone is not sufficient for diagnosis.
  • Insulin resistance: Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, which means their bodies have difficulty using insulin effectively. This can lead to higher insulin levels in the blood, potentially increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Weight gain: PCOS is associated with weight gain and obesity in some cases. However, not all women with PCOS are overweight.
  • Oily skin and Acne.

PCOS can also increase the risk of other health complications, such as infertility, gestational diabetes during pregnancy, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases.

While there is no cure for PCOS, its symptoms can be managed through lifestyle modifications, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and weight management. Medications may be prescribed to regulate menstrual cycles, reduce androgen levels, and manage associated conditions like insulin resistance or high cholesterol. Treatment plans are typically tailored to an individual's specific symptoms and goals, such as fertility treatment if pregnancy is desired.

Diet and workout are the two most important changes that one needs to make if diagnosed with PCOS and a part of the lifestyle change.

  • Choose whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Control carbohydrates.
  • Prioritise lean proteins.
  • Include healthy fats.
  • Increase fibre intake.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Consider supplements.
  • Manage stress.
  • Seek professional guidance.

It is recommended to consult with a registered dietitian who specialises in PCOS or a healthcare professional to create a personalised diet plan based on your specific needs and goals.

Remember, individual responses to dietary changes may vary, so it's essential to work with a healthcare professional to design a plan that suits you best. Regular monitoring and follow-up with your healthcare provider can help track your progress and make any necessary adjustments to your diet.

Exercise is an important component of managing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Regular physical activity can help improve insulin sensitivity, promote weight loss, regulate hormone levels, and reduce symptoms associated with PCOS.

Here are some workout guidelines for PCOS patients:

Consult with a healthcare professional: Before starting any exercise program, it's advisable to consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. They can provide personalised recommendations based on your specific needs and capabilities.

Choose a variety of exercises: Engaging in a combination of aerobic exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises can provide numerous benefits. Incorporating different types of activities helps improve overall fitness, burn calories, build muscle, and enhance flexibility.

Aerobic exercises: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, or aerobic classes. Alternatively, you can aim for 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week, like running or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Start slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts.

Strength training: Include strength training exercises at least two days per week. This can involve lifting weights, using resistance bands, or performing bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks. Strength training helps build lean muscle mass, which can improve insulin sensitivity and metabolic rate.

Flexibility exercises: Incorporate stretching exercises, yoga, or Pilates into your routine to improve flexibility, promote relaxation, and reduce stress. Flexibility exercises can also help alleviate muscle tension and improve posture.

Be consistent: Aim for regular exercise sessions throughout the week. Consistency is key for long-term benefits. Find activities that you enjoy and make them a part of your routine. Monitor your intensity: Listen to your body and exercise at a level that feels challenging but comfortable. Avoid pushing yourself to extremes, especially if you're just starting. Gradually increase the intensity as your fitness improves.

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to stay hydrated. Be mindful of your body: If you experience any pain, discomfort, or unusual symptoms during exercise, stop and consult with your healthcare provider.

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