Health Tips and Tricks for Managing PCOS
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Women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) are all too familiar with the struggles of having a hormonal imbalance. Suddenly, juggling a healthy lifestyle and maintaining your reproductive well-being is as challenging as it is dire. Although finding an ideal regimen for managing PCOS is personal, health tips and tricks deliver hope in easing symptoms.
What Is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
PCOS affects nearly 5% to 10% of women during childbearing age—although its onset can occur at puberty. Most women learn of their PCOS when they try to conceive, while others wait even longer for a diagnosis.
Women with PCOS usually show signs of insulin resistance. Their bodies also produce excess androgens—male hormones — which prevent ovulation and could cause irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, hirsutism, weight gain, thinning hair and acne.
Doctors usually diagnose PCOS if you present two of the following symptoms:
- Irregular menstruation or anovulation—prolonged periods without a menstrual cycle
- More androgens that induce unwanted hair growth, hair thinning or acne
- Small ovarian cysts, determined by transvaginal ultrasound
While no cure or single medication exists for PCOS, your doctors can work with you on developing a treatment plan and lifestyle changes for relief.
6 Health Tips and Tricks to Deal With PCOS
If you have PCOS, there’s never been a better time to get proactive about your health. PCOS can be lifelong, posing a higher risk of developing diabetes, gestational diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, gynecological cancers, depression and anxiety. However, these six health tips and tricks can help.
1. Seek Help from Experienced Doctors
Establishing the right team of providers is crucial for receiving the medical care you deserve. According to EndocrineWeb.com, a 2017 survey found that 50% of women saw three or more doctors for a PCOS diagnosis—30% reported it taking over two years.
Your medical care team should include an experienced endocrinologist, gynecologist and primary care provider. If you’re trying to conceive, consider a reproductive endocrine specialist, too.
Others prefer a more holistic approach with functional medicine specialists, therapists, nutritionists, dermatologists and estheticians to aid specific symptoms.
2. Eat a PCOS-Friendly Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise are integral in preventing several conditions caused by PCOS. Although made more challenging by hormonal imbalances, a low-calorie eating plan and healthy weight management can reduce insulin resistance, regulate menstrual cycles and avert diabetes and heart disease.
Some women eliminate gluten and dairy to reduce inflammation, while most find avoiding sugary, processed and caffeinated foods is also beneficial.
It’s also essential to get moving through aerobic exercise, resistance training or walking. One study suggests that 120 minutes of high-intensity weekly workouts significantly affect women with PCOS. Other studies have indicated that yoga can also reduce androgen levels and stress.
3. Take Supplements
Certain supplements may help manage PCOS. For example, Myo-inositol can lower androgen levels and insulin resistance and improve fertility.
Cinnamon supplements also transport sugar from the bloodstream to the cells to bolster the body’s insulin sensitivity.
Additional supplements could include omega-3, turmeric and vitamins D and B. Regular bloodwork can help you determine vitamin deficiencies and the best supplements you should take for PCOS.
4. Consider Hair Removal Treatment
About 65% to 75% of women with PCOS present hirsutism—unwanted hair growth on the face and body. For many, it’s a source of discomfort, embarrassment and reduced confidence.
The only FDA-approved hair removal treatment is electrolysis, which permanently destroys hair growth cells at the follicle regardless of skin tone.
Some women find laser hair removal more effective and affordable than electrolysis. However, laser merely slows the appearance of hair and, in some cases, may stimulate growth elsewhere.
5. Know Your Treatment Options
Although there aren’t any medications to treat PCOS specifically, women often take birth control to regulate their cycles if they’re not trying to get pregnant.
Combination birth control pills with estrogen and progesterone reduce androgens and balance proper female hormone production. Meanwhile, progestin-only medication protects those at higher risk of endometrial cancer due to PCOS.
Women who wish to increase their fertility may be prescribed clomiphene, metformin and others. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) may also be necessary for conception.
6. Find Support and Stay Educated
Finding support and staying educated is the most useful of all the healthy tips and tricks for living with PCOS. Visit PCOS organizations and forums to connect with fellow “cysters” for camaraderie on your journey.
Likewise, stay abreast of the latest medications and tests underway to better diagnose, treat and manage life with PCOS—and talk to your doctors about your findings.
As research advances and PCOS challenges become addressed more often, diagnostic criteria and medical care will improve.
Live Easier With PCOS
PCOS doesn’t have to rule your life. Although the condition can make coping more difficult, applying these health tips and tricks can enhance PCOS management.