Tips to help manage PCOS

Health

Tips to help manage PCOS

Dr Gabriella Diaz

Sunday, October 04, 2020

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You may have seen the term polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) recently, as September is recognised as the month for raising awareness about the condition. But what is it?

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects about one in every 10 women of childbearing age. It is characterised by increased levels of the male androgen hormones, enlarged and multiple cysts in the ovaries, irregular periods, and insulin resistance (insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas organ, which is responsible for transporting the glucose/sugar from food in the bloodstream into cells to be used for energy).

There is no known exact cause yet, and there is no cure. However, it can be managed.

Some of the common symptoms that plague women with PCOS are:

• Infrequent or no menstrual periods and/or irregular bleeding;

• Difficulty with becoming pregnant;

• Increased growth of hair on the face, chest, stomach, and back; as well as

• Acne and oily skin

Women with PCOS are at increased risk of:

• Excessive weight gain or obesity, especially around the waist;

• Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy, if they become pregnant);

• High cholesterol;

• High blood pressure;

• Coronary heart disease;

• Uterine (womb) cancer;

• Depression and anxiety.

Some management tips

Weight control and an exercise plan

The relationship between being overweight and PCOS is complicated and not well understood.

Though being overweight is associated with PCOS, some women of normal weight have PCOS and many overweight women do not. Short- to medium-term research has shown that five to 10 per cent reduction in weight can improve insulin resistance, high cholesterol, even help with fertility and alleviate the psychological features.

It can be a frustrating experience to lose weight, as it may be resistant, however, it is vital to incorporate and cultivate healthy eating habits and physical activity for a minimum of three to four days per week. Eat five to six small meals per day to keep cravings at bay.

Diet

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which was originally designed for controlling high blood pressure, has also been found to be beneficial to those with PCOS. It has been shown to be effective within 14 days of initiation for lowering blood pressure.

The DASH approach emphasises fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, nuts, poultry and fish, products low in total and saturated fat. When the DASH approach is combined with a reduced sodium intake, it is even more effective in lowering blood pressure than either strategy alone.

In addition to lowering blood pressure, DASH diet lowers total cholesterol and LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol, hence it is also embraced by the heart-healthy guidelines.

Appearance and other tips

In terms of fertility, those with PCOS can still become pregnant with the help of medications, once the doctor thinks it may be appropriate in their circumstance.

Medications can also be prescribed to improve insulin sensitivity, minimise excessive male-patterned hair growth and acne.

If one is trying to become pregnant, they may opt to avoid medications because of the possibility of birth defects, however, they can discuss other options with their doctor.

Dr Gabriella Diaz is a medical aesthetics doctor and registered dietitian who is the director at Finesse Nutrition and Esthetics (FINE) at 129 Pro, 129 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6. Check out 876FINE on Facebook & Instagram or contact her via e-mail at fine.infoja@gmail.com and 876-522-8297.


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