PCC (Polycystic ovary syndrome) is a condition that affects millions of women.
September was PCOS Awareness Month, and the opportunity to develop awareness and understanding of complex medical conditions continues.
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If you or someone you know and love has PCOS, read on to find out what PCOS is, what it is, what its symptoms are and how it is diagnosed. Also, some tips on lifestyle habits to help control symptoms.
- 1 in 10 women of childbearing age is affected by PCOS (according to the Women’s Health and Human Services Bureau of Women’s Health)
- PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility, with 6% to 12% (up to 5 million) of reproductive age in the United States (according to the CDC).
- About 50 to 75 percent of people with PCOS do not know they have it (according to the November 2018 issue of the International Environmental Research and Public Health Magazine).
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a condition in women due to hormonal imbalances. It is caused by high levels of androgens (female sex hormones) and ovarian and insulin resistance, both hormonal and reproductive disorders.
A large part of PCOS and its symptoms are insulin resistance. Insulin is a growth hormone that we all need to survive. Insulin is responsible for transporting glucose (carbohydrates and carbohydrates) from our blood to our cells for energy.
Insulin resistance then results in an imbalance of reproductive hormones. When insulin levels rise in women with PCOS, the ovaries are stimulated to produce more androgens (male sex hormones).
Just as all men have estrogen, all women have androgens. This hormonal imbalance can lead to disruption of the menstrual cycle and delay.
What causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but if you are one in 10 women in this situation, the most important thing to understand is that you are not guilty and nothing you have done has caused PCOS. There are many theories as to what causes it, genetics plays a role.
Symptoms of PCOS
- Abnormal menstrual cycle. Women with PCOS may miss menstruation or have a few menstrual periods (less than eight a year). Some women with PCOS stop menstruating.
- Excessive hair on the face, chin, or body, where men often have hair.
- Acne on the face, chest and upper back
- Thin hair or hair loss on the scalp; Male-pattern baldness
- Weight gain or weight loss problem
- Dark skin, especially in the neck, gray and below the breasts
- Skin lesions that are small patches of skin around the armpits or neck
How is PCOS diagnosed?
The PCOS test is based on two of the following three criteria, excluding other possible conditions.
- There are no irregular periods (less than eight menstrual cycles per year) or menstruation.
- Blood tests or physical signs indicating high androgens (high testosterone, excessive hair growth, baldness, pimples)
- The presence of tiny fluid-filled follicles around the ovary — ovarian cyst — is detected by ultrasound (not all women with PCOS have an ovarian tumor)
Weight and PCOS
The common denominator for many women with PCOS is “weight loss.” Short-term weight loss can temporarily relieve some of the symptoms, while long-term weight loss can do more harm than good. Many women with PCOS say it is “impossible” to lose weight, not because of lack of testing, but because of biology.
Combined with PCOS, high insulin levels lead to slower metabolism and more body fat. On the other hand, carbohydrate cravings for insulin resistance can make it more difficult for a person with PCOS to stick to a diet.
This is because, often, mistakenly, weight is seen as the cause and weight loss, because healers with PCOS often go on a starvation diet to lose weight and eventually become more depressed.
Women with PCOS are six times more likely to have an eating disorder, and eating disorders are more common.
Finally, PCOS is not caused by weight gain or overweight, so weight loss is not a cure. There are many thin women with PCOS. Doesn’t it make sense for all women to be given the same advice and / or medication for PCOS management (or in any case) regardless of weight, shape or size? There are many things you can do to manage and live with PCOS “without losing weight”.
Three ways to manage PCOS
While medications and certain supplements may be helpful, dietary and lifestyle changes can also be an important part of PCOS symptom management.
The main goal of managing PCOS with a sedentary lifestyle is to reduce swelling and stabilize blood sugar. Women with PCOS have been shown to have high insulin levels, persistent and chronic low-grade inflammation associated with high insulin levels, intestinal bacterial imbalance, poor quality sleep, and high levels of anxiety.
Lowering Swelling is a big part of treating PCOS, and while the inclusion of anti-inflammatory foods and focus on diet is part of the equation, there are many other lifestyle changes that can be effective in lowering swelling and controlling blood sugar.
Here are some dietary and lifestyle strategies to improve your mental and physical health by diagnosing PCOS.
Eat consistently and adequately
One common strategy to control PCOS and its symptoms and weight gain is to limit food and total calories. It is difficult and impossible to ignore all of us, but especially for women with PCOS, the feeling of exhaustion, lack of energy, and cravings can leave us all alone.
Our bodies need enough fuel and nutrients to function. Fats and proteins help maintain hormonal function and regular carbohydrates at regular intervals throughout the day and stabilize blood sugar.
Choose high fiber carbohydrates
Choosing fiber-rich carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and fried vegetables instead of carbohydrates also helps control and maintain blood sugar.
They break down more slowly than fiber-free carbohydrates. To make it easier for the insulin-resistant body to manage and use that glucose in the blood.
You will no longer have white carbohydrates or eat only high-fiber carbohydrates, but some may help with symptoms to change it and include more. Having some protein and fat with your carbohydrates also helps to stabilize your blood sugar.
Get enough sleep and control stress
Chronic stress and insufficient sleep can both trigger stress reactions and negatively affect the body’s ability to control inflammation. Sleep deprivation and chronic stress also have hormonal consequences and can affect glucose metabolism and insulin levels.
Sleep and stress are interrelated, sleep deprivation only exacerbates stress, and vice versa. It can go a long way in helping to manage PCOS if you suffer from chronic insomnia and are struggling to find ways to cope with sleep better.
Practice good sleep hygiene by avoiding caffeine after 2 p.m. Exercise during the day, especially outside the sun, can relieve anxiety and sleepiness.
Understanding how to treat and manage PCOS better can help us take better care of ourselves and live a healthier and happier life.
Want to learn more? Practical information and the best resource I can work with clients PCOS Workbook – Angela Gracy and Stephanie Matty is your guide to complete physical and emotional health. The PCOSnutrition.com website is also full of great information.
Anna Jones is a registered dietitian. Visit her website at annajonesrd.com.
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