What is PCOS/PCOD?
It has emerged over the last two decades due to changing lifestyles and affects more than 50% of women in the world today. In PCOS, there is moderate enlargement of the ovarian size and stroma in the form of small cysts. Causes are related to lifestyle, environment and genetics. Its clinical diagnosis is based upon altered menstrual cycles, unwanted hair growth, infertility, and lack of ovulation and mood swings.
Some of the proposed causes for PCOS are as follows:
1. Insulin Resistance happens when despite normal serum insulin concentration, the blood sugar remains high as a result of defective receptor interactions; and the high blood sugar releases more insulin and thus this vicious cycle continues. This leads to hyper-stimulation of androgens that alters the normal balance of reproductive hormones.
2. Persistent Inflammation
3. Hereditary: A family history of PCOS significantly increases your risk of developing PCOS.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Symptoms develop not only due to alterations in the reproductive and sexual functions, but also, because it aggravates the risk of several metabolic and cosmetic ailments.
Its signs and symptoms vary depending upon the degree of hormonal / metabolic dysfunction, age and other issues such as obesity or known hormonal imbalances. Most females who are suffering from PCOS are obese (or over-weight). It is the body weight that determines the response to different therapies.
Here are some signs and symptoms which are specific to PCOS:
Irregularity in periods
An irregular menstrual cycle is one of the most common characteristic features of PCOS. The menstrual cycles are less frequent (less than 8 cycles per year) and are usually short and painful. The average length of one menstrual cycle is 35-37 days in PCOS. Some females have scanty menstrual flow while others may experience heavy bleeding.
Serum androgen levels
There may be high levels of androgens reported in the patients of PCOS along with an increase in the growth of facial hair (also known as hirsutism), acne over skin and onset of male pattern baldness.
The enlarged ovaries with increased stroma on ultrasound examination are the hallmark of PCOS.
Other symptoms due to varying degree of insulin resistance are weight gain, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, abnormal changes in the serum lipid concentration, mood changes and abnormalities in the sleep cycle.
How to manage and treat PCOS?
PCOS is a metabolic disorder which requires constant management of diet, exercise and stress management. The goal is to identify the core cause, control symptoms, restore hormonal rhythm and detoxify the body to flush out toxins.
Can PCOS be treated naturally?
The primary aim of choosing natural methods is to treat the underlying cause which is causing the symptoms. Research suggests that 10 out of every 12 females can improve their chances of conception by losing at least 5% of their body weight. This is mainly because weight loss is associated with improvement in insulin sensitivity, restoration of normal insulin balance, substantial decrease in the production of testosterone and reactionary increase in the serum levels of Sex Hormone Binding globulin.
Lifestyle modification: We are what we eat and think. Intake of low calorie diet can help in effective weight loss (this is required to maintain normal androgen concentration in the body). Women who have high levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) in the first half of their menstrual cycle are at higher risk of having miscarriage. According to a study the risk of miscarriage drops from 75% to 18% with 5 to 10% decrease in the total body weight and diet regulation. While maintaining a balanced diet, limiting the spiky rise in blood sugar levels is the basic key. Dietary modifications prevent rapid spikes in insulin release and resulting abnormal metabolism. We also advise moderate exercise and physical activities to maintain optimal insulin sensitivity.
Insulin resistance syndrome causes weight gain and obesity since the body is unable to fully utilize the dietary carbohydrates and store it as fats. Here are some tips to overcome this:
- Limit the intake of carbohydrates
- Increase the intake of proteins
- Add phytoestrogens
- Use organic foods
- Limit the intake of saturated fats
- Avoid excessive use of dairy products
- Increase your daily intake of water
- Limit alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid use of sugar products
What is the best PCOS Diet?
Avoid refined and processed foods made out of Maida /All purpose flour / Trans fat / White sugar / Chips / Biscuits / Cookies / Chocolates. They increase the insulin level suddenly and the body will suffer to process. The refined junk food increases the body fat and the in turn PCOS becomes worse.
Healthy fats recommended in PCOS diet plan include coconut oil, butter, egg yolks and olive oil. Consume low carbohydrates and maintain a gluten free diet. Dairy products intake should be limited.
Find an exercise routine that could be walking, running, weight lifting, or dancing. More than weight loss, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The result would be a complete makeover due to the happy hormones produced.