Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is not something we hear about often. PCOS is also referred to as Stein-Leventhal syndrome or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Most of us don’t even know what it is. It may not seem relevant to you but we need to be comfortable talking about it because around 10% of women of reproductive age are affected by PCOS. It is the most common endocrine disorder for women and many women don’t even know they have it!
Nutrition & Life Dietitians support kiwi women like you with women's health including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, perimenopause and menopause. You can read more about this on our Women's Health Service Page.
Alternatively, if your over second guessing what to do, then take action by speaking with Dietitian experienced in women’s health today.
If you’ve just heard about it, you’ve started to notice symptoms or your Doctor has talked to you about PCOS, you might have a whirlwind of thoughts and questions going around in your head. We wanted to help clear up the information about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and give you hope for what can be done. So, here are four answers to the common questions for women with PCOS:
You might have noticed some of the common symptoms of PCOS. Often, women experience:
These symptoms can be uncomfortable and awkward. It’s important to understand what’s going on in your body. Why? Because it can be manageable! With help from a medical team and especially the nutrition support of a dietitian, some of the reasons for your symptoms can be reduced.
The reason for these symptoms is the metabolic and hormonal shifts that take place when you have PCOS. One of the main drivers of Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome is insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced by the liver that acts like a key to unlock cell doors. This 'key' allows glucose into cells so that our body can use glucose as energy. However, in PCOS, this process is not as efficient because the cells are less sensitive to insulin. This causes blood sugar levels to rise and the overproduction of insulin.
High levels of insulin can lead to weight gain, irregular periods, and higher levels of androgens. Androgens are hormones associated with growth and reproduction in both men and women. The most common androgen is Testosterone. It's normal for women to have some androgen production, but high androgens are what trigger the excess facial hair, body hair, acne, and sometimes balding.
The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown. It is thought to be partly genetics and the influence of the environment around us on our genetics. There are many things still to be understood. Insulin resistance seems to be an important factor in the development of PCOS, but it is still not fully understood how the hormone irregularities occur. The important thing to note is that PCOS is not your fault. There are many contributing factors, and many are outside of our control.
If you have PCOS, you will know the impact it has on your life. Thankfully there are many ways around this such as hair removal and hormonal medications.
However, there are some long-term effects of PCOS that are important to address. Having higher insulin resistance can put you more at risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life. It can also be harder to manage weight and therefore feel comfortable in your body.
It can sound intimidating at first but thankfully there’s an answer to the next question:
There are MANY things you can do to manage Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Nutrition is one of the most crucial factors in managing your symptoms. Studies have found that getting your nutrition right can improve your insulin sensitivity and reduce your androgen levels. That may not sound interesting to you, but it often means for women that their acne reduces, they tend to have less body hair and they can take management over their weight. Many even find their menstrual cycles become more regular which means better fertility! Most importantly, getting nutrition right with the help of Registered Dietitians has helped many women to accept their bodies just the way they are and to feel comfortable in their own skin.
Those were four answers to frequently asked questions you’ve been asking about PCOS. But maybe you’ve got one last question…
Reaching out for help is the best way to start improving your Polycystic Ovary Syndrome symptoms. Reach out to one of our Dietitians today and book a chat.
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