What is PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome)
PCOS is a common health problem which affects one in 10 women of childbearing age. It is caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. As part of a healthy menstrual cycle, the ovaries make the egg that is released each month but with PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should or it may not be released during ovulation as it should be. Because of this, a woman suffering from PCOS may miss the regular menstrual cycle and irregular periods can lead to:
Infertility (inability to get pregnant). In fact, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility.
Development of cysts (small fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is considered a hormonal problem.
Hormones involved in PCOS include:
Androgens: Androgens (“Male Hormones”) are produced in all females, but there are often higher levels of androgens in women with PCOS. Excess androgens are produced by ovaries and are responsible for many PCOS symptoms including acne, unwanted hair, thinning hair, and irregular periods.
Insulin: Insulin allows the body to absorb glucose (blood sugar) into the cells for energy. In women with PCOS, the body becomes unresponsive to insulin as it should be. This leads to elevated blood glucose levels and causes the body to make more insulin.Too much insulin can cause the body to make more androgens.
Progesterone: Progesterone is a steroidal hormone which is involved in the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, embryogenesis of humans and species. This hormone is essential because it is a precursor to aldosterone and cortisol, which are essential for life. It is a precursor to all the steroid hormones, including estrogens and testosterone. Progesterone works to synergize the actions of estradiol in the female organs, especially in pregnancy. It is necessary for proper uterine and breast development and function. In PCOS, there is a lack of progesterone which contributes to irregular periods and menstrual cramps.
Symptoms of PCOS:
1. Irregular Menstrual Cycle
2. Hirsutism: Excessive Facial Hair Growth.
4. Thinning of hair or hair loss on the scalp
5. Weight Gain
6. Darkening of Skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts.
7. Skin Tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area.
Why Weight Loss is Important in PCOS:
PCOS is a condition in which there is no cure available, one thing which one can do is to manage the symptoms of PCOS. For this, Doctor & Nutritionist both have to work on a treatment plan based on symptoms, plans for children, and risk for long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. If a woman is not seeking to become pregnant, hormonal birth control (most often birth control pills) is a standard treatment. Birth control pills regulate periods and improve excess hair growth and acne by lowering androgen levels and protect the endometrium (inner lining of the uterus) against abnormal cell growth. A large number of research studies have shown that even a weight loss of 5-10 kg or 5-10 percent of initial body weight have following benefits on a woman suffering from PCOS:
- reduce insulin resistance by about 50%
- restore ovulation
- regulate menstrual cycles
- reduce pregnancy complications
- improve fertility
- improve health during pregnancy
- improve the health of a child during pregnancy
- improve emotional health (self-esteem, anxiety, depression)
- reduce risk factors for diabetes and heart disease
Weight Loss is very important in PCOS as excess levels of testosterone is linked to higher rates of insulin resistance, which causes more deposition of fat, especially around the abdomen. And when a woman with PCOS, starts gaining weight, it further increases insulin resistance, which again promotes the production of testosterone, so it’s a kind of vicious cycle, that may lead to Diabetes.
Diet In PCOS
Diet for PCOS patient should not be hight in refined cereal as it will increase insulin resistance. One must include high protein food like chicken, dals, paneer etc. So that it should give satiety and one must not feel frequent hunger pangs. One must include foods that are rich in phytoestrogens to balance the hormone production like soya, flaxseeds, fenugreek, barley etc. Exercise, especially of the pelvic region, is important for PCOS so that fat should not get deposited in the abdominal region. One must do the brisk walk, jogging for 30 minutes and stretching for 15 minutes.
If you are trying to lose weight while suffering from PCOS, watch weight loss tips for PCOS by Shikha Sharma (Doctor).
For Personalised PCOS Management Plans, you can always call Dr Shikha’s NutriHealth at 011-46666000. You can also chat with our experts here.