When I was diagnosed with PCOS, my OB-GYN prescribed me with birth control pills to help with it. She explained that while they’re not without their own share of potential side effects, she assured me that they’d do wonders for my condition. Still, I made sure to do some of my own research to see if I’d be willing to risk it. Turns out, I wasn’t.
Birth control pills work for a lot of people with hormonal imbalances—it clears up their skin and regulates their period in a snap, among other things. But personally, I was concerned about three things: 1) the possibility of these pills triggering a mood disorder, 2) the potential for rapid weight gain, and 3) the amount of time it would take my body to flush out their effects if things turned for the worst.
So I read up on what I could possibly do to manage my PCOS without medication. Now, after 8 or so months of continued practice, I can say that my condition has drastically improved—and my symptoms rarely, if ever, manifest. Here’s my experience!
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that manifests in hormonal imbalances in women. It takes its name from multiple fluid-filled sacs (cysts) that grow in the ovaries. Apart from these cysts, those with PCOS also have high levels of male hormones and irregular menstrual cycles. They may also have trouble conceiving.
Other common effects of PCOS include abnormal hair growth, acne, and weight gain. In some cases, the hormones can even trigger depression and anxiety. At worst, it can lead to infertility, higher risk of cancer, and other issues linked with obesity.
But despite how scary it may sound, PCOS is totally manageable, given the right medication and lifestyle changes. Many women, once diagnosed, opt to take birth control pills to regulate their cycles and combat many other PCOS symptoms. Others, like me, do damage control through diet and exercise.
The first thing I changed was what I ate. Women with PCOS have abnormally high levels of insulin, which can lead to a further imbalance in your hormones. To combat this, I started incorporating more high-fiber foods, lean proteins, and anti-inflammatories in my diet. While my initial goal was really to just stabilize my hormones, I ended up gradually losing about 20 pounds. Considering that a lower BMI also helps with PCOS symptoms, I counted this as a major win.
I USE: The Superfood Grocer Chia Seeds (1/2 lb.), P350, The Green Tummy Flaxseeds (140g), P150, Arrowhead Mills Organic Green Lentils (1 lb.), P265
I also became a lot more active after I was diagnosed. At the time, it simply made sense to me to pair my dietary changes with more movement. Day by day, I was starting to feel much better in my body: I had more energy, focus, and just a generally lighter disposition. I mostly did cardio, which reduces insulin resistance, too. The rush of mood-improving endorphins also helped, putting me on a cycle of positivity.
I USE: Manly Womanly Jumping Rope, P140
I’ve learned that diet plays a huge factor in the condition of my skin. But when you have PCOS and you refuse to go on the pill, you need to take a few extra steps to achieve a clear complexion. Because I’m eating cleaner now, I generally have healthier skin and fewer breakouts. Still, I’ve maintained a consistent routine that features a lot of moisturizing, exfoliating, and targeted treatment to keep PCOS-induced dry skin and acne at bay.
I USE: Esfolio Snail Moisture Soothing Gel, P349, Dear Klairs Supple Prep Toner, P1,150, CosRX Centella Blemish Cream, P1,000
Since I’ve made a conscious effort to work around my PCOS, my skin has improved, my period has more or less regularized, and I’m able to handle anxiety or any dips in my mood better. As far as hormone-related issues are concerned, I’ve only been experiencing your run-of-the-mill PMS, and the rest is pretty stable.
Of course, this is not to say that I’m completely against taking birth control pills or any form of medication for PCOS. I’m not a medical professional—all I can really go on is what I’ve read and experienced myself. For me, these lifestyle changes have helped a lot and they’ve been enough, but I understand that not everyone is the same.
My best advice would still be to talk to your doctor, do your own research, and listen to what your body needs. In any case, if you have PCOS or you think you might have it, I hope reading this helped you!
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