Frequently Asked PCOS Questions
PCOS is a common endocrine disorder affecting many women of reproductive age. I have compiled a bunch of questions and answers about PCOS that I frequently get asked to help you.
Q. How Do I Know If I Have PCOS?
A. If you notice or suffer from any of the symptoms below visit your Doctor.
Symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Irregular periods, or no periods at all
- Difficulty getting pregnant (because of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate)
- Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
- Weight gain and/or trouble losing weight
- Thinning hair and hair loss from the head
- ‘Cysts’ on the ovaries
- Oily skin or acne
- Dark patches of skin on the back of your neck and other areas, called acanthosis nigricans (a-can-tho-sis ni-gri-cans)
There is no single test to diagnose PCOS. Your doctor may undertake the following steps and tests to examine whether you do have PCOS or if your symptoms are being caused by something else.
Medical History: You will be asked about your menstrual cycle/period, any health issues you may have and possible weight changes.
Physical Exam: Your doctor may want to measure your body mass index (BMI), waist size and blood pressure.
Blood Test: This may be completed to identify your hormone levels. It will check your androgen (male hormone), thyroid or insulin in your blood.
Ultrasound: An ultrasound of the ovaries, pelvis and the uterus can be carried out to identify whether there are ‘cysts’ on your ovaries.
Q. Can I Still Get Pregnant If I Have PCOS?
A. Yes, you can still get pregnant if you have PCOS. An issue with PCOS is a hormone imbalance. A hormone imbalance, therefore, effects the bodies ability to produce eggs and prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Three reasons why becoming pregnant may be more challenging for women with PCOS are:
- Women with PCOS tend to have irregular periods
- Women with PCOS often do not ovulate.
- If and when an egg is released, the endometrium (lining of the uterus) may not be sufficiently prepared to sustain a pregnancy.
- Women with PCOS often do not ovulate.
There are various medications that can help such as clomifene which encourages ovulation.
- Maintain a healthy weight and stay physically active.
- Reduce stress levels
- Ensure good diet and nutrition.
- Balance can be restored with nutritional and herbal support.
- Follow a low-glycemic load diet.
Seek advice from your doctor before you decide to change or include anything in your diet/lifestyle.
Q. What Is The Best Diet For PCOS?
A. There is no best diet for PCOS. We are not all the same, and we do not have the same type of PCOS. Therefore our nutritional requirements cannot be either. It is important that you experiment with different approaches finding out what works for you.
Q. What Foods Are Bad For PCOS?
A. The top 3 foods you should aim to limit or even avoid are; dairy, high GI foods and processed/junk foods. Research has also looked into gluten, yet found no clear link. Although, you can experiment and see if gluten helps you and your PCOS. As I mentioned above, it is all about experimenting.
Q. Can I Eat Carbs If I Have PCOS?
A. Yes, you can eat carbohydrates if you have PCOS. You do not have to eliminate them completely from your diet, simply opt for complex carbohydrates that have a low GI to manage your blood sugar and avoid the spikes in insulin.
Q. Can I Eat Fruit If I Have PCOS?
A. Yes, you eat fruit if you have PCOS. While many women with PCOS tend to avoid fruit because of their high sugar content, you can still eat it. Fruits contain essential vitamin, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre that our body needs. I would recommend consuming 2 fruits a day and ensuring that these fruits have a Low Glycemic Index such as strawberries, cherries, pears, plums, peaches.
Q. What Are The Best Exercises For PCOS?
A. The two best exercises for PCOS are; resistance training and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Q. Is There A Cure For PCOS?
A. At the moment, there is no cure for PCOS. However, PCOS can be reversed but that does not mean PCOS is gone, it merely means that its symptoms have been put into remission and that changes in diet and lifestyle can offset a hormone imbalance again resulting in the symptoms associated with PCOS.
Your diet and lifestyle play a crucial role in ensuring healthy and balanced hormones. Make sure you are eating right and exercising regularly.
Q. How Can I Treat My Acne?
A. When it comes to treating any symptom associated with PCOS, you have to get to the root cause, and the root cause of PCOS is a hormone imbalance. While there are ways to manage and treat acne, it is often not enough to completely clear the skin, and at times these approaches may not work. When it comes to hormonal acne, you have to treat it from the root cause.
Tips to Help
- Avoid Dairy
- Avoid sugar and processed foods
- Eat Omega 3
- Supplement with Zinc and Vitamin A
Q. What Treatment Can I Use For My Hair Loss And Hair Thinning?
The same with acne, there is no one set treatment approach, in order to treat hair loss you have to get to the root cause. Women with PCOS have high levels of androgen and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). An excess of testosterone creates DHT. DHT, more specifically, causes hair loss. An increased amount of DHT means that it will attach itself onto the hair follicles and begin to affect the hair, eventually to the point of hair loss, it also leads to the follicle to stop producing new hair, essentially creating a clogged follicle.
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Peppermint Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Spearmint Tea
Q. Are There Any Supplements I Should Take For PCOS?
A. Yes there are supplements that you can take to help your PCOS.
Research has found that women with PCOS are deficient in certain nutrients, such as; Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, magnesium. Furthermore, Inositol is another nutrient in which many women with PCOS lack. Research suggests that women with PCOS struggle to convert food into MYO or DCI, or it may be we excrete too much DCI and are unable to replace it quickly enough.
Women with PCOS suffer from inflammation, as a result of insulin resistance and a hormone imbalance. Therefore, supplementing with omega 3 can help reduce inflammation. Research has found that omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) not only stop inflammation but also treats inflammation already present in the body.
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