Four renowned doctors share insightful tips to help manage PCOS.
PCOS Wellness: Sustaining Health Through Nourishment
Dr Ragweshwar Jyoti, MBBS, MD (Obs. & Gyn.); Assistant Professor at IGMC, Shimla; Ex Sr Resident in Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, Shimla (2009-2021).
Navigating the intricate terrain of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) requires a comprehensive approach, and at the heart of this journey lies the powerful influence of one’s diet. PCOS is a complex hormonal disorder characterized by a range of symptoms, from irregular periods and ovarian cysts to hormonal imbalances.
There is a symbiotic relationship between diet and PCOS, the food we consume can either amplify or alleviate the impact of this condition. Micronutrients, the unsung nutrition heroes, command a crucial role in PCOS management. Vitamins and minerals have a significant influence on hormonal balance and general health.
Dietary Tips For PCOS Wellness:
- Wholesome Selections: The cornerstone of your PCOS-tailored diet rests on whole foods — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Prioritize Protein: Lean proteins, like poultry, fish, beans, and legumes, anchor your diet. Their satiating power helps control blood sugar and staves off insulin spikes.
- Carb Considerations: Opt for complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. They facilitate gradual sugar release.
- Fats, The Wise Way: Healthy fats from avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil counter inflammation and regulate hormones.
- Mindful Moderation: While the spotlight shines on nutrients, mindful portion control remains crucial. Balance your plate with a symphony of nutrients and portion sizes.
A Common Culprit in Infertility
Dr Parag Biniwale, MD Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Biniwale Women’s Clinic, Pune; Sr Consultant Ob-Gyn, Pune; PG Teacher & Unit Head, Kamala Nehru Hospital; President, Pune Ob-Gyn Society (22-23); Vice Chairperson, ICOG (2021-23); President, Menopause Society, Pune (2018-22); Secretary, ICOG (2018-20).
While every woman’s journey with infertility is different, research connects polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) with a higher risk of infertility. Unfortunately, this disorder is extremely common and often goes undiagnosed. Women living with undiagnosed PCOS may be as high as 75%. It affects one in 10 women of childbearing age and often begins during adolescence and can continue into adulthood, bringing not only hormonal and metabolic challenges, but also reproductive difficulties.
The causes of infertility induced by PCOS stem from the hormonal imbalances and disruptions it brings. The irregular ovulation or lack of ovulation reduces the chances of conception. Additionally, the presence of small cysts on the ovaries can further complicate fertility by hindering the proper development and release of eggs. The hormonal imbalances and ovulatory dysfunction associated with PCOS make it challenging for women to become pregnant.
PCOS is a multifaceted condition that impacts fertility and long-term health. With the right strategies, such as maintaining a healthy weight, adopting a balanced diet, and seeking medical guidance, women with PCOS can effectively manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.
PCOS & Comorbidities: The Hidden Health Connections
Dr Priya Vora-Thakur, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist; DNB; MC; FCPS; DGO; FCPS; ICOG; Diploma in Endoscopy (BEAMS); Managing Committee Member of MOGS; Vice President of Mumbai Menopause Society (2023-2025); Secretary of Mumbai Menopause Society (2021-2023); Secretary of AMWI (2022-2025).
Left untreated, PCOS can have negative effects on various parts of the body, apart from fertility. Hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance are responsible for a number of comorbidities associated with PCOS. According to a study, the overall morbidity associated with PCOS is up to 35% higher than that of peers. Women also perceived their health status to be clearly worse than their counterparts.
Comorbidities having elevated risk include gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular defects, pregnancy-related issues, skin changes, and mental health issues.
The increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in PCOS is closely associated with BMI. Women with PCOS should also be screened for the elements of the metabolic syndrome. Measurement of HbA1c and lipid accumulation could be important. Obese women with PCOS are especially at risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and endometrial cancer. Besides, PCOS can cause an increase in harmful pathogens in the individual’s mouth, which can lead to gingivitis.
There are multiple comorbidities and complications that follow untreated PCOS, but prevention and management of the syndrome can help the patient lead a healthy and fulfilling life. Regular check-ups and maintenance of a steady, healthy weight are among the many ways PCOS can be managed.
Teen Talk: Understanding PCOS In Adolescence
Dr Sushma Deshmukh, Director, Central India Test Tube Baby Centre; HOD – Ob-Gy, Get-Well Multispecialty Hospital and Research Centre; Chapter Secretory, Vidarbha IFS – 2021-2024; President, NOGS – 2023-24; Organized two national and one international Hysteroscopy Carnivals; Regular Faculty for Global Hysteroscopy Congress in Barcelona since 2017.
PCOS occurs due to a hormone imbalance in which the ovaries produce excessive amounts of male hormones such as testosterone. The high levels of androgens can interfere with ovulation and cause irregular or missed periods. Other PCOS symptoms can vary, but they often include excess hair growth on the face, chest, or belly; thinning hair on the head; acne and clogged pores; excessive weight gain or difficulty losing excess weight; and dark, thickened skin on the neck, armpits, or under the breasts.
It is estimated that 6% to 18% of adolescent girls have PCOS. It is important to get a proper diagnosis because PCOS can impact their health and well-being as they get older. PCOS is called a syndrome because the patient can experience many symptoms at the same time. Medical nutrition therapy and nutritional supplements have improved signs and symptoms. This should be an ideal approach to restoring ovulation. One of the biggest concerns about adolescent PCOS is emotional well-being. Having PCOS can be hard on a girl’s self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression.
Tips To Manage PCOS:
- Lifestyle changes — nutritious diet and exercise.
- Maintaining optimal weight.
- Proper medications to restore ovulation and hormone balance.
- Derma products – after consultation with a doctor – to treat acne or excess facial hair growth.
- Managing anxiety or depression.
- Correcting the sleep cycle may also help.