Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
“We know that PCOS affects far more than just the ovaries. PCOS touches the body, mind, and spirit of patients afflicted by this condition. To ignore this reality by simply suggesting that the latest medications will cure this disease would be unrealistic and a disservice.”
From: What to Do When the Doctor Says It's PCOS By Milton Hammerly, MD and Cheryl Kimball
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects 6-10% of all women of reproduction age. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but symptoms can be well managed and long term risks prevented.
For reasons that are unclear, hormones become out of balance. This imbalance increases androgens (male hormones) in the blood causing ovulation to stop. The body may also have a problem using insulin, which leads to elevated blood sugar. A host of symptoms can develop.
A medical diagnosis, using the Rotterdam Criteria, requires at least two of the following:
- Irregular periods
- Polycystic ovaries
There is no cure for PCOS. Treatment is based on symptoms and whether conception or contraception is the goal. Conventional treatment centers on medications, and in some cases surgery.
Birth control pills can regulate menstrual cycles, maintain hormone levels, and help to clear acne. Metformin may be used to help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. Fertility medication may be considered. Medications work only for as long as they are taken. Surgery, called ovary drilling, offers temporary results and is usually not recommended.
Studies have shown that dedicated long-term management of nutrition, exercise, and stress is the best approach for first line treatment of PCOS.
Although there is not a “diet” for PCOS, a balanced meal plan will manage symptoms and prevent risk factors. Healthful eating can lower blood sugar, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides.
This means, in the long term, a healthy, balanced meal plan can prevent diabetes and heart disease. It will also help maintain a healthy weight.
Regular physical activity is another key part of the treatment for PCOS. Exercise will improve muscle strength, burn fat, and reduce insulin resistance. It is also a great stress reducer.
Stress management may be the most beneficial therapy of all for keeping PCOS symptoms under control.
Stress can cause insulin resistance. It can also cause excessive amounts of androgens to be released from the adrenal glands. Behavior changes can be learned and used to calm the nervous system. This will reduce the amount of androgens that are released, reducing the severity of PCOS symptoms.
Overcoming the challenges of PCOS is a long-term endeavor. Be healthier and happier... Take control of PCOS...don't let it control you.
Brandywine Area Nutrition is offering a special group program for women with PCOS. Learn More