Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle To Lower Severity of PCOS

Sep 16, 2021, 15:01 IST


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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder. Hormones are chemical messenger which are released into our blood stream by specific organs known as glands. These hormones control many processes in our body like menstruation, blood glucose, growth, blood pressure just to give you an example. Two hormones (androgens and insulin) are responsible for the symptoms related to PCOS.

Dr Dr Shobhana Patted, Director, Patted’s Fertility and Research Center, Belgaum Shobhana Patted,

Lack Of Awareness
Dr Shobhana Patted, Director, Patted’s Fertility and Research Center, Belgaum talks of this condition, its causes and how it can be dealt with. "PCOS is one of the most common conditions seen in our practice and one in ten women suffer from PCOS. Though many different medical terminologies are used to describe this conditions like PCO, PCOM, PCOD, PCOS – they are all the same. Unfortunately, most women are not aware that they are suffering from this condition as there is a lack of awareness," she says.

Lifestyle Factors That Affect PCOS
Lifestyle Factors That Affect PCOS
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PCOS is often called as a modern epidemic and also known as an affluenza. Improved socioeconomic conditions bring along a kind of a baggage with them. Sedentary life style, eating out often and eating junk food, consuming soft drinks, the external stress of peer pressure, social media, information overload, FOM and internal negative emotions such low self-esteem, anger, depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation and altered sleep pattern all contribute to this condition.

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PCOS is a metabolic malady and called as the “mother of all life style disorder”. It can affect a woman during her entire life span. In young girls, it can lead to early menses and irregular cycles. In reproductive age group it can cause infertility, gestational diabetes and in older women it can lead to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and if left untreated it can lead to a serious condition like endometrial cancer.

Presently, the exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Some experts lean towards the theory that it might be a genetic – an inherited condition since women who have it, are more likely to have a sister or mother who also have it.


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The most commonly seen symptoms are irregular cycles, that is you will not get your period once in 28 or 30 days. It may be pushed to more than 35 days to two months or more. Some women may not get the periods at all till they take appropriate medication. Other symptoms are excessive hair growth on upper lip, chin or side burns. The person might have pigmentation on the neck and have excessive weight gain. There is a strong association between excessive weight and PCOS, however some women who have PCOS can have a normal weight or may be slim and we call them lean PCOS. Women with PCOS also have a greater risk of emotional challenges such as anxiety and depression. Women with PCOS may have difficulty in getting pregnant.

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The first line of treatment is what we call life style changes. If the woman is overweight she has to reduce her weight by diet, exercise and behavioural therapy. Emotional health also needs to be improved with good social support, education about PCOS and appropriate treatment.

The high carbohydrate content of the Indian diet is associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance and physical activity levels are also frequently low among most Indians. Sedentary behaviour increases in women at around 35 to 45 years.

A Healthy Lifestyle Paves The Way
A Healthy Lifestyle Paves The Way
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A healthy lifestyle is vital for all women with PCOS and is the best approach to reducing the severity of the symptoms.

Dr Bindu Garg, Medical Director, Neelkanth Group of Hospitals, says, "A healthy diet and 30-40 minutes walking protocol along with the medicines is a key to keep the symptoms and metabolic disturbances associated with PCOD under control." 

Dr Bindu Garg, Medical Director, Neelkanth Group of HospitalsBindu Garg

This includes:

• Being as active as possible.
• Maintaining a balanced diet with all food groups and adequate nutrition, although there is no diet specified as a PCOS diet. A healthy diet includes:
1. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables
2. Eating lean meats
3. Cutting out or reducing foods such as sugary drinks and foods high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats.
4. Overall, low carbohydrate calorie-restricted diets have been shown to be effective in reducing weight and insulin resistance.
5. Making water your main drink.
• Not sitting for long periods of time. Get up at least on an hourly basis to move around and stretch.
• Stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption.
• Monitoring weight closely and avoiding any excess weight gain. Even losing few kilos can have positive effects on the body.

What Kind Of Weight Loss Is Recommended?
Weight Loss
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A typically recommended weight loss is to reduce a minimum of 5 per cent of your body weight. For instance, if your weight is 60kg, you need to lose at least 3 kg to begin with. A combination of aerobic and muscle strengthening (resistance) exercises is beneficial. Patients who have physical deconditioning should be advised to start walking for about 15–20 minutes daily and increase time and intensity at weekly intervals. A goal of 60 minutes of physical activity daily or 300 minutes of weekly moderate-intensity physical activity is an effective strategy for weight loss.

For a woman who wishes to get pregnant, weight has to be appropriate. There are several treatments available for women to help her to get pregnant. There are oral medications and injectable available to induce ovulation. We also do a laparoscopic surgery called as ovarian diathermy or drilling, where we puncture the cysts in the ovary. Other options available are intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The treatment of IVF is very safe and millions of babies are born through this technology.

Note: We can never reach a point and say, "I have cured myself of PCOS." Also, there is no magic drug to cure it, but there is so much under your control to balance your hormones. It is up to you to take the healing in your hands. Never get discouraged. See a fertility specialist, since this condition needs life long lifestyle change. Small changes go a long way.

So, eat less, eat on time, eat right, walk more, sleep well and don't forget to smile!

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Infertility: What To Do?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition involving hormonal imbalances and metabolism problems. Dr Wahengbam Indibar Singh, MS Obst and Gynae, IVF Specialist and Laparoscopic Surgeon, assures that this condition doesn’t necessarily lead to infertility. "A diagnosis of PCOS is almost always associated with an assumption that getting pregnant will be a challenge. Yes, PCOS is one of the main causes of infertility; in fact, 50 per cent of women who have difficulty in conceiving are found to have PCOS. Research estimates that PCOS affects 5 to 13 per cent of women of reproductive age — but it is treatable."

Dr Wahengbam Indibar Singh, MS Obst and Gynae, IVF Specialist and Laparoscopic SurgeonPCO

Signs and symptoms of PCOS usually show up in late adolescence or early adulthood, reveals Dr Singh. They can include:

  • Excess hair growth on the face or other places where males are typically more likely to have hair
  • Thinning hair on the scalp
  • Oily skin or severe acne
  • Skin tags on the neck or armpits
  • Patches of thick, darkened skin, particularly on the neck, groin, or underneath the breasts
  • Weight gain or difficulty with losing weight
  • High levels of insulin in blood

For infertility caused by PCOS, treatment involves correcting any ovulation issues and tackling metabolic problems, such as insulin resistance. Dr Singh adds that there are treatments to help ovulate and conceive. Help is also available to regulate menstrual cycles and provide protection from endometriosis in women with irregular periods associated with PCOS. Maintaining a healthy weight can help regulate menstruation and keep blood glucose levels under control. So a healthy, balanced diet and regular exercise are vital.

"Married PCOS patients can now become pregnant quite fast by using Assisted Reproductive Technique like IVF procedure," concludes Dr Singh.

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Also read: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome And Infertility: What To Do?