**Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that affects 5 – 10% of women who are of reproductive ages. Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect their overall health and appearance, and it can be very frustrating for those affected by it.
I am seeing more and more women come to me with this diagnosis, and they are looking for things they can do to take back control of their bodies. So many, that I felt the need to write this post to give you a place to start if you are dealing with this diagnosis.
PCOS affects fertility, and increases chance of miscarriage for women because it is an imbalance with your reproductive hormones. The first signs of this health condition can actually begin shortly after your first period – but many times it isn’t recognized until much later. Many times hormone tests even come back as ‘normal’, but you still have PCOS.
You SHOULD have two of the following for a true PCOS diagnosis, BUT I have seen many women diagnosed with just 1, or even only given an informal diagnosis based on what their Doctor believes might be true. Usually these are diagnosed with ultrasound and/or blood tests.
- Lack of ovulation
- Signs of high androgens (acne, excess body hair, male pattern balding, oily skin)
- Polycystic ovaries
Symptoms to watch for
- Irregular period, or no period at all
- Excessive bleeding with periods
- Difficulty getting pregnant (this is because of irregular or no ovulation)
- Excessive hair growth, usually on your face, chest or back
- Weight gain (obesity is considered a factor of PCOS, but as many as 50% of women with PCOS are thin)
- Thinning hair or hair loss on your head
- Oily skin or acne
- Elevated blood sugar or insulin levels
- Darkening of skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
- Skin tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
5 Steps to help manage PCOS
I know you have been waiting for this one! 5 things you can start doing today that can help you regain control with these hormones.
- Smaller meals more often. Eat every 2.5-3 hours during the day, and make sure you have some protein and good fats every single time you eat. Good sources of protein are: nuts/seeds, nut butters, eggs, chia seeds, hemp seeds, hummus, beans/lentils, lean meats. Good sources of fats are: extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, eggs, nuts/seeds, avocados, chia & hemp seeds, salmon, dark chocolate..mmmm).
- Whole grains, beans & lentils. When you are thinking of carbs, aim for ONLY whole grains, like sprouted breads, oats, brown rice, quinoa or buckwheat. Beans and lentils are also a great way to get carbs in.
- Add fermented foods. Fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir (Liberte is my favourite brand of kefir), not only help boost your digestion, but will also help manage blood sugar levels (another important aspect of managing PCOS).
- Milk thistle tea. This liver powerhouse (can be found at most health food stores) is great for helping to bring more balance with your reproductive hormones.
- Lower stress. I know that stress may feel like an unavoidable part of your life, and sometimes that is true. If you want to manage your hormones, and symptoms of PCOS – learn what works for you to help you lower stress and manage it better. It is essential! Meditation and yoga are both great for this, and you can find great free videos for both on YouTube.
These are 5 important steps to regain control of PCOS. Depending on your symptoms and your body, there are many other options as well. If you have more questions about this, feel free to talk to me a little more about this!
Remember, that you CAN take back control. I’ve seen many clients do this already, and you can do it too – one step at a time.
**Please talk to your Doctor if you feel like this may be something you are dealing with.