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How to cope with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

How to cope with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition that can cause irregular periods, excess hair growth, top-of-head hair loss (androgenic alopecia), and other symptoms. PCOS can impact a woman's fertility and overall health. PCOS is a common condition that affects approximately 5 million women in the United States alone. Treatment options are available, but there is no cure for PCOS. PCOS can develop in girls as young as 11 years-old, though the condition is often not diagnosed until a woman is trying to conceive. Because of this, PCOS is often (incorrectly) discussed as if it were only a reproductive disease.


If you're struggling with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), you're not alone. This disorder affects 1 in 10 women worldwide. And while there is no cure, there are ways to manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life. In this article, we'll share some tips on how to cope with PCOS. From diet and exercise to stress reduction, there are many things you can do to ease the symptoms of PCOS. So let's get started.


The truth is far more complicated.


There are many misconceptions about PCOS. Some people believe that PCOS is simply a "weight problem," but this is not the case. While obesity can contribute to the development of PCOS, the condition can occur in women of all sizes. Thin women can also develop PCOS, though this is less common. PCOS is a complex condition with many possible causes. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is believed to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. PCOS often runs in families, so there may be a genetic predisposition for the condition. Additionally, certain lifestyle choices, such as a diet high in processed foods and low in nutrients, can contribute to developing PCOS.

PCOS Symptoms

The most common symptom of PCOS is irregular periods. Women with PCOS may have infrequent periods, or they may skip periods altogether. Other common symptoms include weight gain, difficulty losing weight, excess hair growth, thinning hair, acne, and fertility problems. PCOS can have a significant impact on a woman's fertility. The condition is one of the leading causes of infertility, and women with PCOS may have difficulty becoming pregnant. PCOS can also lead to miscarrying a pregnancy. If you are trying to conceive, it is important to speak with your doctor about your PCOS and the best treatment options for you.


PCOS is a treatable condition, but there is no cure. The goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Treatment options vary depending on the individual but may include medication, weight loss, and lifestyle changes.

If you have PCOS and you may wonder what you can do to improve your overall health. Here are some tips . . .

Our best advice for dealing with a PCOS diagnois:

1. See your doctor regularly, especially if you are actively symptomatic or trying to conceive.

PCOS is a complicated disorder to treat and diagnose, and no two people with the syndrome exhibit symptoms in the same way.


2. Take the right meds for your exact needs.

In women with PCOS, the ovaries may produce too much of the hormone testosterone. This can interfere with ovulation, as well as cause other symptoms, such as excess hair growth and acne. Other hormones, such as luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones, may also be out of whack. Common medications can include spironolactone (a diuretic used in the regulation of high blood pressure that is also known to lower testosterone throughout the body), metformin (a diabetes pill that sensitizes the liver to glucose and insulin regulation signals), estradiol (synthetic estrogen), and birth control pills. Keep in mind, that if you are not seeing an endocrinologist as part of your treatment you may not get the right medications in the right doses. Some of the treatments may even be counterproductive. For example, estradiol can make ovarian cysts worse. Make sure your doctor is an expert with PCOS.


3. Don't be afraid to seek out a second opinion.

Let's be real: Doctors are generally insensitive and downright mean when they talk to overweight women, as if being rude will help them overcome a complicated disease exacerbated by society, environment, behavior, and biology. The patient only has control over one of these factors -- their behavior -- but much of that is also influenced by biological forces. Find a doctor who understands this dynamic and puts you, the person, before the number on the scale. It's important to find doctors who work well with you because this disease has no cure, only symptom control.


4. Be realistic and forgiving of your body.

There is no cure for PCOS, including menopause and hysterectomy. The name is an unfortunate misnomer because it incorrectly places all focus on the fertility issues that can come with a PCOS diagnosis. Yes, you may develop cysts on your ovaries, but did you know that many women with PCOS do not have cystic ovaries at all? You read that right. You can have healthy ovaries and still have this disorder. That is because PCOS is a full-body syndrome that affects all of you, not just the lady bits. It's probably more accurate to think of PCOS as the canary in the type II diabetes coal mine. The most dramatic symptoms are caused by systemic hormonal disruptions throughout the body: thyroid hormones, reproductive hormones, ghrelin and cortisol (hunger and stress hormones), insulin (another hormone), etc. This is why most treatment for PCOS begins with expensive hormonal blood panels that must be replicated by a competent endocrinologist (hormone specialist) regularly. Scrutinizing your hormonal compositon in this way is even more important if you have an atypical presentation, you're actively trying to conceive, or your case of PCOS is particularly severe.


5. Focus your attention on healing your liver -- and not just your ovaries -- to experience symptom relief much faster.

This often requires a change in dietary lifestyle. Chronic exposure to things like high fructose corn syrup -- which is entirely processed in the liver -- can lead to fat deposits in the liver and, eventually, blood sugar regulation issues. This is why fatty liver disease and other metabolic problems often go hand in hand with a PCOS diagnosis. Most common advice doctors give their patients in response to the disease -- diet, exercise, and even metformin -- will act on the liver first, well before other changes occur throughout the rest of the body. TAKE THE HINT. An inflamed liver cannot regulate body processes as well as a healthy liver. Losing weight, exercising regularly, and even taking metformin will help you restore your liver to a more functional state and minimize many of the most damaging and disfiguring symptoms of PCOS.


6. Maintain a healthy weight.

Weight loss is often recommended as a treatment for PCOS. Losing as little as 5-10% of your body weight can make a significant difference in your symptoms. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, losing just 10 pounds can improve your menstrual regularity and help regulate your hormones. Weight management should not be considered just "losing weight" or a diet, but instead a life-long journey with ups and downs. It won't always be smooth sailing. Because of this, it's important to be compassionate and honest with yourself throughout the process. Surround yourself with people and activities that support a healthy lifestyle. Avoid making food the center of your social life.


7. Break a sweat as often as possible.

Exercise can help to regulate your hormones and improve your insulin sensitivity. How? By helping remove excess fat and glycogen deposits from the liver so it can regulate your body's insulin levels more effectively. Aerobic exercise is essential for "cysters" who want to avoid the nasty side effects of a sluggish metabolism on a PCOS body, which include brain fog, blurry vision, headaches, weight gain, fatigue, mood dysregulation, and other symptoms that can make life miserable.


8. Eat a healthy diet.

A low-sugar grain-free diet with lean protein and low-starch vegetables can help to regulate your hormones and improve your fertility. Medical science has only scratched the surface of identifying the relationship between blood glucose, insulin, thyroid hormones, and reproductive hormones. While classic dietary advice focuses on "whole grains," this advice can often frustrate women with PCOS because they're much more sensitive to spikes in their blood glucose levels than the general population. (PCOS is a precursor to type II diabetes.) While medical professionals may advocate for a balanced diet, many PCOS "cysters" swear by keto and low-carbohydrate diets to restore fertility, heal inflamed livers, minimize acne and hair loss, lower testosterone levels naturally, and keep weight in a healthy range for their unique bodies.


9. Reduce stress.

Stress can undermine weight management as well as interfere with ovulation and conception. Try relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation to help reduce stress. We know this is easier said than done, particularly since many women with PCOS also experience elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can also trigger hunger, often thrusting PCOS cysters into a vicious spiral of stress and comfort eating. The situation is difficult, but not impossible. Focus on eliminating stress in small doses every day. This can pay off big over time.


10. Honor your natural circadian rhythm and get plenty of sleep.

Getting good sleep can be a challenge for a lot of women with PCOS. It may require giving up things like alcohol, marijuana, nicotene, or even coffee if it's too late in the day. Sleep is important for overall health and can help to reduce stress levels and promote hormone balance. Think of sleep as a cleanup crew for your brain. Good quality sleep is great for your thinking power. Sleep can minimize the brain fog that often comes with the territory when you have chronic inflamation or too much stress hormone in your system.

If you are struggling with PCOS, know that you are not alone. The condition is very common, affecting an estimated 5-10% of women of childbearing age. PCOS can be a frustrating and overwhelming condition, but there are treatments available that can help you manage your symptoms and live a healthy life.

You're in good company here at, founded by a PCOS "cyster" with the social media handle "CysterWigs." You'll meet other courageous women who are thriving every day with PCOS and having fun regardless of the disease. There are thousands of women in our online community who either have the disease or are sympathetic to it. We all support each other, Dearly Beloved, as we try to get through this thing called life!

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