By now, you probably know what polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is. Perhaps someone in your life, whether it’s a family member or a friend of a friend, suffers from the issue. But if PCOS isn’t in your wellness lexicon just yet, it’s basically a hormonal imbalance present in millions (1 in 10) of women.
Which begs the question: have you ever thought you might have PCOS, too? Because, reality is, most women have PCOS without knowing it. This emphasizes the importance of identifying the problem early, as well as treating it as soon as possible. While there is no “answer” for PCOS, we promise, it’s manageable.
Below, 8 signs and symptoms of PCOS—and possible solutions for the problem.
SIGNS OF POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS)
PCOS is a common health problem present in 5%-10% of women, ages 15 to 41. It’s marked by the following features:
1. Presence of cysts in the ovaries.
The word itself, “polycystic,” translates to “many cysts.” The cysts are found in the ovaries, and, more often than not, appear as small sacs filled with fluid. The sacs, called “cysts” or “follicles” can lead to infertility.
2. Imbalance of reproductive hormones.
Simply put, you have more male hormones (androgen) than female hormones (estrogen and progesterone), which may cause an overproduction of sebum and excess body hair.
3. High levels of insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use sugar as energy. People with PCOS, however, experience “insulin resistance”—or the body’s unresponsiveness to insulin—resulting in high insulin blood levels.
4. Irregular periods.
Due to an anovulation (or absent ovulation), you may experience an irregular period. Some women have their period less than 8 times a year, others have their periods for 21 days (or more), or none at all.
SYMPTOMS OF POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS)
Without ovulation, it’s challenging for a women to conceive. Not to worry—having PCOS does not mean you can never get pregnant. A chat with your OBGyn can help shed light on the matter.
“Hirsutism” is basically excess body hair. More than 70% of women with PCOS sprout hair on their chins or parts of their bodies where men usually grow hair. Alternatively, some women also experience hair loss.
The excess of male hormones can increase oil production, leading to an increased chance of acne.
4. Darkening of skin.
Darkening of the skin can occur along the neck, groin, and underneath the breasts. Skin tags may appear, too.
5. Weight gain.
More often than not, women with PCOS gain weight. Note that people who are already overweight are also likely to get PCOS.
6. Sleep apnea.
Repeated pauses in breathing that interrupt sleep.
7. Depression and/or anxiety.
Rapid hormonal changes and the physical symptoms of PCOS can negatively affect your emotions, especially your mental health.
SOLUTIONS FOR POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS)
1. Speak to your OBGyn.
Conversing with a health professional, specifically your OBGyn will help clarify a lot of your worries. They’ll teach you more about the problem and discuss possible action plans, depending on your unique symptoms. Whether you’re worried about having PCOS or you just want to know more about it, there is no harm in consulting a professional.
2. Exercise regularly.
Establishing a regular exercise routine will not just keep your weight in check, it will also improve cholesterol levels, lower insulin, and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. It’s even been proven that losing just 5%-10% of your body weight can help regulate your monthly cycle and improve PCOS symptoms.
3. Eat healthy.
Unbeknownst to many, you do not have to modify your diet drastically when diagnosed with PCOS. In fact, PCOS is a reminder of how we should all eat: healthy and balanced foods. Stick with fibrous foods, lean protein, and ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties. Oh, and don’t forget your daily dose of fruits and veggies! But just in case you need more guidance, here are just a few products you can add to your PCOS-proof grocery list:
While oil makes any meal instantly more tasty, many contain a lot of bad fats. Opt for natural and organic varieties that help maintain body weight and reduce stored fat. They also happen to help balance hormone levels and improve overall digestion.
TRY: Sozo Natural MCT Oil (500ml), P1,700
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) isn’t just awesome for de-bloating a puffy stomach! The anti-inflammatory serves as a potent ingredient that fights the overproduction of androgens (male hormones) in your system. A combination of water, a tablespoon of ACV, and 1/2 of honey can jumpstart your metabolism and your journey into a healthy lifestyle.
TRY: ACV Health Double Strength Apple Cider Vinegar, P190
Yup, M-A-C-A. Native to Peru, the wonder plant is known to regulate our menstruation and increase fertility. It also helps reduce estrogen, lessen body hair, and boost energy.
TRY: Roarganics Maca Root Powder (250g), on sale at P950 (limited time only)
Cinnamon is an excellent source of fiber and calcium. A warm cup of honey and cinnamon tea, one in the morning and one in the evening, can help improve insulin levels and regulate menstruation.
TRY: Molinos de la Especia Cinnamon Powder (50g), P155
4. Consider medication.
Birth pills, anti-androgens, and medicine such as Metformin and Clomiphene are options prescribed by doctors for PCOS patients. It just matters on whether you want to ingest medication or not. Neither is wrong! Just take note that no matter which option you decide on, they all have their own set of side effects.
We know, we know: it’s plenty of information to take in. But whether you think you have PCOS or not, just remember it’s manageable—and you will be OK!
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