Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine (hormonal) disorder that affects about 10% of women. The underlying cause is unknown, but is thought to be related to insulin resistance.
For more information about PCOS you can visit my page: Have PCOS? Start Here.
PCOS affects the body’s hormonal balance which can cause symptoms such as menstrual cycle irregularities, infertility, acne, abnormal hair growth, obesity, and increases a women’s risk of developing long-term health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
“Go lose weight and come back when you want to have children”.
Many of the women that I have talked with who have been recently diagnosed with PCOS have said they left their doctor’s office feeling confused about what they can do that doesn’t revolve around medications. The doctor just gave them a prescription for birth control pills or metformin and said “Go lose weight and come back when you want to have children”.
While it is important to follow the treatment guidelines of your doctor, there are a few lifestyle modifications you can make that can lower your dependence of medications or allow you to get rid of them altogether.
What can you do to manage PCOS naturally?
Research has consistently pointed to three general steps you can take to manage or even help you reverse your symptoms of PCOS. I will cover each in more detail with future posts.
Step 1: Eat more whole, plant-based foods. These include fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and 100% whole grains.
This will increase the amount of quality nutrients you eat and will help improve insulin resistance which is thought to be a major player in most women with PCOS. By switching to a high nutrient diet, you are giving your body more of what it needs to heal itself and restore balance with less of the processed and animal products that contain chemicals that interfere with your hormonal balance. Whole, plant based foods will help control your symptoms by lowering testosterone levels, improving menstrual function, improve acne and abnormal hair growth, improve fertility, help control your weight, and lower your risk for developing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Get Started Tips:
- Decrease the amount of saturated fat, trans fat, and salt in your diet.
- Increase the variety of vegetables you eat on a daily basis.
- Eat small, frequent meals.
- Snacks are encouraged! Choose lots of fruits, vegetables, and nuts for your snacks!
- Read more about Healthy Eating.
Step 2: Get up and moving!
You have heart it before. Exercise is good for you. I am not just talking about working out as if you have Jillian Michaels behind you. It is more about finding ways to get moving more throughout the day.
What can exercise do for your PCOS?
Exercise improves insulin efficiency, helps with weight loss, and helps prevent complications such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer. In addition it can help increase your basic metabolic rate (think of this as the increasing the amount of calories your body burns when are aren’t even working out). And if those benefits are not enough to convince you the importance of working out when you have PCOS, maybe improving your skin, lowering stress, improving your mood, and improving your quality of sleep are motivation enough to get out there and get moving!
Get Started Tips:
- Get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days of the week (running, walking, hiking, swimming, tennis, etc.)
- Can’t leave out strength training! Work with some kind of weights 2-3 days per week.
- Work all major muscles in your arms, core, legs, butt, etc.
- Don’t be worried about building bulk; working with some weights will help get you that toned look!
- Read about how to Get Started with Exercise.
Step 3: Cut out your toxins.
Your body comes into contact with thousands of toxins every day from foods, cosmetics, cleaners, plastics, smoking, etc. It is pretty much impossible to avoid them all, but it is important to avoid them as much as possible. Many toxins are endocrine disruptors which means they interfere with your hormonal balance. This increases those annoying PCOS symptoms, and your risk for developing heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.
Get Started Tips:
- Eat organic as much as possible. If you can’t afford everything organic (who can anymore?), stick with going organic for produce such as apples, berries, and lettuce that does not have a skin that you can peel off.
- Take inventory of your household cleaners. You will find most household cleaners contain harsh chemicals that are endocrine disrupters. Switch to using hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar for general disinfecting.
- Stop smoking and limit alcohol intake.
- Take inventory of your cosmetics which contain ingredients that have not been properly tested and can be endocrine disrupters.
- Read more about Getting Rid of Toxins.
Do you have any great PCOS tips you live by that will help other women with PCOS? Share your expertise by leaving a comment below!