PCOS can be difficult to manage, but there are treatments available to help. If you think you have PCOS, talk to your healthcare provider about the treatment options discussed in this article.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal disorder caused by insulin resistance and excess production of androgens (male-type hormones). Although there is no cure for it, the good news is that you can find a treatment plan to help reverse your symptoms.
Aside from an irregular menstrual cycle, other common PCOS symptoms include excessive hair growth on the face or body, acne, weight gain, mood swings, infertility and hair loss.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
A healthcare provider will typically diagnose PCOS based on the presence of certain symptoms and/or laboratory tests. Although there is no single definitive test for PCOS, common diagnostic criteria may include a pelvic ultrasound to assess the ovaries and detect multiple cysts resulting from excess androgens.
Your doctor may also order blood tests to determine your blood glucose levels, as the root cause of PCOS in 93% of women is insulin resistance.
What is the best treatment option for PCOS?
There is no one-size-fits-all PCOS treatment, but there are several options to help manage the symptoms. To maintain a healthy weight, first-line treatment includes lifestyle modifications, with an emphasis on regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Patients who are insulin resistant may be prescribed metformin, a type 2 diabetes medication. This aids in weight loss and lowers their insulin levels. Birth control pills are commonly prescribed to reduce androgen production. If you’re interested in medication as an option, please speak with your GP.
Natural treatment approach to PCOS
Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based, holistic solution for managing PCOS. This includes lifestyle changes across all areas of life, such as nutrition, exercise, mental health, environment, sleep and so much more.
Exercising regularly, such as walking, cycling, lifting weights, Pilates or swimming, can all help with PCOS. Exercise can improve your insulin sensitivity, improving your PCOS symptoms and lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Combining everyday exercise with physiotherapy can help you in many ways! Your physiotherapist can help you to find a form of exercise that suits you and your body, as well as help to address any injuries or barriers stopping you from exercising. Remember, finding a form of movement you enjoy is the most important thing and will help you remain consistent with your routine.
Maintain a nutritious diet
A healthy, nutritious diet is an incredibly powerful tool for women with PCOS. Choose foods high in fibre and low in simple sugars. Aim to consume a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Avoiding processed foods, saturated fats and alcohol can also aid in the improvement of PCOS symptoms. Speak to a qualified nutritionist for more help with this.
Manage your stress levels
High stress levels can aggravate PCOS. This is because when the body is stressed, it produces more cortisol, which can raise androgen levels. By lowering your stress levels, you can help to improve your symptoms. There are different ways to reduce stress, including yoga, relaxation techniques and counselling. Consult your doctor about what is best for you.
Get enough sleep
We are obsessed with sleep here at Vively !Sleep plays an important role in regulating hormones and metabolism. Studies have shown that women with PCOS who get adequate sleep have better hormone levels and are more likely to ovulate than women who don't get enough sleep. Getting sufficient sleep can also help with weight loss, as it helps regulate hunger hormones.
These treatments can help manage your PCOS symptoms and reduce the risk of long-term health complications such as type 2diabetes and heart disease.
Working with a healthcare team that specialises in lifestyle medicine can help you improve your quality of life if you have PCOS.