POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition where you have few, unusual or very long periods. It often results in having too much of a male hormone called androgen. Many small sacs of fluid develop on the ovaries. They may fail to regularly release eggs.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a problem with hormones that happens during the reproductive years. If you have PCOS, you may not have periods very often. Or you may have periods that last many days. You may also have too much of a hormone called androgen in your body. With PCOS, many small sacs of fluid develop along the outer edge of the ovary.
These are called cysts. The small fluid-filled cysts contain immature eggs. These are called follicles. The follicles fail to regularly release eggs. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may lower the risk of long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Symptoms of PCOS often start around the time of the first menstrual period. Sometimes symptoms develop later after you have had periods for a while. The symptoms of PCOS vary. A diagnosis of PCOS is made when you have at least two of these:
- Irregular periods. Having few menstrual periods or having periods that aren't regular are common signs of PCOS. So is having periods that last for many days or longer than is typical for a period. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year. And those periods may occur more than 35 days apart. You may have trouble getting pregnant.
- Too much androgen. High levels of the hormone androgen may result in excess facial and body hair. This is called hirsutism. Sometimes, severe acne and male-pattern baldness can happen, too.
- Polycystic ovaries. Your ovaries might be bigger. Many follicles containing immature eggs may develop around the edge of the ovary. The ovaries might not work the way they should.
PCOS signs and symptoms are typically more severe in people with obesity.
When to see a doctor
See your health care provider if you're worried about your periods, if you're having trouble getting pregnant, or if you have signs of excess androgen. These might include new hair growth on your face and body, acne and male-pattern baldness.
The exact cause of PCOS isn't known. Factors that might play a role include:
Insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas makes. It allows cells to use sugar, your body's primary energy supply. If cells become resistant to the action of insulin, then blood sugar levels can go up. This can cause your body to make more insulin to try to bring down the blood sugar level.
Too much insulin might cause your body to make too much of the male hormone androgen. You could have trouble with ovulation, the process where eggs are released from the ovary.
One sign of insulin resistance is dark, velvety patches of skin on the lower part of the neck, armpits, groin or under the breasts. A bigger appetite and weight gain may be other signs.
- Low-grade inflammation. White blood cells make substances in response to infection or injury. This response is called low-grade inflammation. Research shows that people with PCOS have a type of long-term, low-grade inflammation that leads polycystic ovaries to produce androgens. This can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.
- Heredity. Research suggests that certain genes might be linked to PCOS. Having a family history of PCOS may play a role in developing the condition.
Excess androgen. With PCOS, the ovaries may produce high levels of androgen. Having too much androgen interferes with ovulation. This means that eggs don't develop on a regular basis and aren't released from the follicles where they develop. Excess androgen also can result in hirsutism and acne.
Complications of PCOS can include:
- Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
- Miscarriage or premature birth
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis - a severe liver inflammation caused by fat buildup in the liver
- Metabolic syndrome - a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and unhealthy cholesterol or triglyceride levels that significantly increase your risk of heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease
- Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Depression, anxiety and eating disorders
- Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer)
Obesity commonly occurs with PCOS and can worsen complications of the disorder.
Foods To Avoid
The main problem associated with PCOS is weight gain. It further complicates the condition and also leads to mental and emotional trauma. If PCOS females want to manage their weight, they need to adopt some dietary changes.
They should take foods that are best for PCOS management and avoid those that are not helpful. Foods that trigger the inflammatory process, which disturb hormonal levels and raise blood sugar levels, are the worst food for PCOS. Here is a list of some foods to avoid during PCOS
1. Processed food:
Foods like white rice, candies, loaves of bread, potatoes, pastries have refined flour. Refined carbohydrates are the worst food for PCOS and should be avoided. PCOS women are more likely to develop diabetes. Refined carbohydrates increase insulin production in our body, leading to diabetes.
2. Coffee or caffeinated drinks:
Coffee has caffeine, and its consumption raises estrogen hormone(female hormone) levels in the body. In PCOS, hormone levels are already disturbed. An increased amount of coffee intake can further complicate the condition. It is best advised to avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks.
3. Fried foods:
They have large amounts of unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats. They are unhealthy and will increase the risk of weight gain. They also increase blood sugar levels and can cause gastric problems and bloating. Fried foods are also inflammatory foods that exacerbate PCOS symptoms. You should avoid them completely.
4. Red Meat:
Excess consumption of red meat such as steaks, pork and hamburgers can decrease the level of progesterone hormone. This hormone is required for pregnancy and a healthy menstrual cycle. It also causes more inflammation in the body. Also, red meat has bad fat, which results in weight gain. Its intake can worsen the symptoms of PCOS.
5. Sugary beverages:
Soda, fizzy drinks and energy drinks have high sugar levels. It increases the release of insulin and affects the level of testosterone. It can also lead to mood swings and bloating. Also, the too much sugar in these drinks will be stored as fat by the body, leading to weight gain.
6. Processed meat:
Hot dogs, salami, and sausages are highly processed meats with high saturated fats and sodium levels. It can cause weight gain. They can cause inflammation which disrupts the hormonal levels of the body. Processed meat also has high sodium levels. Therefore, it should be avoided by PCOS females.
7. Dairy Products:
Milk has some chemicals that increase androgen hormone production. Androgen helps in the production of estrogen (female hormone). Increases in estrogen levels can lead to the severity of PCOS. Milk and milk products like cheese, sweetened yoghurt, and ice cream should be avoided by PCOS females.
8. Unhealthy Fats:
Foods like baked cookies, fried foods, cakes, and butter have saturated and strand fats. Consumption of these unhealthy fats can increase the risk of heart diseases, diabetes and obesity. They can also increase estrogen production leading to hormonal imbalance. This can worsen the symptoms of PCOS.
9. Soy products have a compound named phytoestrogen. It mimics estrogen hormone (female hormone) and can trick the body into reducing the production of estrogen hormone. It leads to hormonal imbalance, which further worsens the symptoms of PCOS. Soy also negatively affects the thyroid gland. It can aggravate the severity of PCOS and lead to bloating weight gain and irritability. Avoid soy products as much as you can.
Many females have found some relief from symptoms by avoiding these foods. But, this is not an all-inclusive list. Every woman has different health conditions associated with PCOS. Also, the severity of symptoms varies in people. It is best to understand what impact a portion of food has on the body and choose the best foods for PCOS. You can consult a qualified healthcare practitioner for diet as per your body requirements.