Hormone Game or a Lifestyle Problem?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Disorder (PCOS/PCOD) , occurs in 1 in every ten women of reproductive age. It is often associated with high levels of male hormones (androgens) in female bloodstream. To put in simple words, it is a hormone game, which decides the fate of pregnancy. Not all women suffering from this imbalance are infertile, but PCOS is definitely one of the contributing factors.
Due to excess of hormonal imbalance and increased levels of male hormones, the disorder is often associated with unexplained weight gain (Obesity), irregularity in menstrual cycles, acne, mood swings, facial hair(hirsutism), depression and sometimes development of T2DM.
In PCOS, there could be the development of multiple cysts in the ovaries which can make the process of natural conception difficult, but not impossible. It should be understood that women with PCOS, can conceive naturally if followed a disciplined lifestyle management change. PCOS cannot be simply interpreted as infertility.
PCOS is more of a lifestyle problem and should be treated as a permanent change in your body. It is also important to understand that unlike diseases, disorders cannot be cured or reversed, they can only be managed.
Hyperinsulinemia in combination with insulin resistance is known to be the key etiology making PCOS management sluggish, leading to anovulation (absence of ovulation which is a prerequisite for a successful conception) and hyperandrogenism (excess levels of male hormones). Stress management however also plays a vital role in the management of PCOS.
Females with PCOS need a positive lifestyle and exercise management plan to execute effective results.
The below guidelines will help women of reproductive age to help conceive naturally, under the supervision of a qualified diet expert and an experienced gynaecologist.
1. Weight management:-
PCOS is a vicious cycle, it often comes with quick, unexplained weight gain due to excess hormonal imbalance, but the first remedy also comes with weight loss management. Females who are successfully able to maintain ideal body weight can conceive naturally by regularising their menstrual cycle and ovulation (which is very important to track fertilisation).
2. Including fiber-rich foods:-
Fiber is present in 2 forms, i.e. soluble and insoluble. Dietary fiber helps in reducing insulin resistance and facilitating the activity of Insulin hormones, which is very important in maintaining carbohydrate metabolism. Fiber also makes weight loss easy, as it is responsible for satiety.
3. Include complex carbohydrates:-
Oats, jowar, millets are some excellent sources of complex carbohydrates(good carbs) which not only help in weight management but also in stabilising blood glucose levels.
4. Exercise: –
A daily physical activity for at least 45 mins to an hour will help in both weight and stress management. Exercises like swimming, yoga, aqua aerobics also work equally on mental wellbeing.
5. Constant follow-ups with the gynaecologist: –
PCOS can give very erratic, scanty menstrual cycles and it becomes essential to keep gynaecologist updated. A gynaecologist, who is well versed with your history, can offer the best possible treatment options to conceive naturally.
6. Opting for first class Proteins: –
Proteins are building blocks of the body, and they cannot be compromised under any circumstances. First class proteins like dairy products, lean meats, eggs should be included in daily diet.
7. Paying heed to micronutrients: –
Micronutrients like folate, Selenium, zinc, magnesium not only help in insulin metabolism but also in production and release of mature and sound eggs from the ovaries to fertilise. A well-balanced diet will ensure a constant supply of micronutrients as per the recommended allowance.
8. Stay happy and positive: –
Love yourself and appreciate every bit of you. It helps tremendously, as PCOS is marked as the disorder largely affected by hormonal imbalance, which is co-related to our thought process. Staying calm and optimistic can help to recover from any illness and disorder soon.
9. Chunk, the refined carbohydrates: –
Processed and refined carbohydrates provide an unwanted chunk of calories without imparting any nutritional significance. PCOS is often associated with obesity and consumption of refined and processed products are linked to obesity (one of the cofactors associated with PCOS).
P.S:- PCOS nutrition and fertility issues require highly personalised and structured dietary approach. A tailored diet recommended by a qualified dietician will help to manage the hormonal havoc towards positivity.