PCOS: Nutritionist Neha Ranglani shares all the major details about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
PCOS: Want to know what is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, its signs types and how to deal and other details? Then read on.
P.C.O.S- Please Check On Self
Like the butterfly, I have the strength and hope to believe that in time I will emerge from my cocoon, TRANSFORMED. PCOS is not a disease and you are not a patient. It is your body's way of telling you that, it needs care, attention and the correct nourishment physically and mentally. Reproduction is not necessary for survival and hence the body keeps it lower in its priority list when lacks nutrients and when it feels it’s not a conducive environment to nurture a baby. And once you give it all it needs, your body comes back on the right track! But, what’s a girl to do when faced with an array of misinformation, half-truths and tips about PCOS available 24/7 online and elsewhere? Believe in her body’s self-healing ability, go within and check she exactly needs as PCOS is not the same any two people.
WHAT IS PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common metabolic disorder where the increased levels of male-type hormones are what causes the ovaries to work differently, causing many of the problems discussed further. If you are a woman battling PCOS, I have good news: there is hope! You can restore your health.
WHY DO I HAVE PCOS?
There could be one or many reasons for it!! Genetics? Many studies suggest that genetic make-up predispose women to PCOS. Well, if heredity is the cause, the environmental triggers would begin in prenatal life and include mother’s obesity as a risk factor along with the interaction of a woman’s own diet, stress and exposure to toxins.
High insulin levels? Insulin transfers glucose into the cells. A diet high in refined carbohydrates such as starchy and sugary foods require a constant insulin supply which is a fat-storing hormone especially in the abdomen area and thus makes it difficult to shed those extra pounds. Weight gain is known to increase insulin levels while high insulin shoots weight gain – a deadly vicious cycle. Also, high insulin levels signal ovaries to produce excess testosterone responsible for facial hair growth, acne, etc.
Stress? Apart from the daily stress, we often put our bodies under additional stress by our food choices, the way we exercise or we don’t and the self-negative messages that we feed in our minds – all of which boils down to hormonal disruption. The hormones released to combat the stress stimulates excess production of adrenal androgen (male) hormone which is believed to contribute to PCOS.
Inflammation? Low-grade inflammation has emerged as a key contributor to PCOS. Inflammation can be triggered by excess circulating glucose in the bloodstream, wrong diet, stress, lack of sleep, unwanted medications, etc which promotes internal stressors and may worsen the symptoms.
Defective Hypothalamus? Hypothalamus is the master of all! This hormone-producing organ may be an underlying cause of hormonal imbalance which would stimulate the ovaries to produce excess male hormone or defective production of testosterone. Any defect in the hypothalamus can cause anovulation (failure to release an egg) in women and related symptoms. However, this is seen in very rare cases.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE PCOS?
Two of the following three criteria are required
• Irregular periods (periods above 35 days)
• Excess male hormones (facial hair, hair thinning, male pattern hair loss)
• Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound
PCOS is far more underdiagnosed, the primary reason is that women do not report all of their symptoms. Either they may be embarrassed to speak about it to the doctor or they may not even recognize their symptoms are unusual. For example, a typical PCOS woman may think, “all of my aunts have facial hair and are overweight. It just runs in my family.” That may be true—likely because PCOS runs in her family but that does not mean it cannot be corrected. To further complicate things, the conventional treatment of PCOS is a Pill and host of other medications that focus on each symptom separately but doesn’t cure them acting as a Band-Aid.
TYPES OF PCOS
The four PCOS phenotypes
1. Type A (Classic PCOS): high androgen levels/androgenic signs, irregular periods/delayed ovulation, polycystic ovaries on ultrasound
2. Type B (Classic PCOS): high androgen levels/androgenic signs, irregular periods/delayed ovulation, normal ovaries
3. Type C (Non-Classic PCOS): high androgen levels/androgenic signs, regular periods – 35 days or shorter cycles/ovulation, polycystic ovaries on ultrasound
4. Type D (Non-Classic PCOS): Normal androgens, irregular periods/delayed ovulation, polycystic ovaries
Women with PCOS wrestle with an array of possible symptoms. Characteristics of PCOS can vary widely based on life stage, genotype, ethnicity, and environmental and lifestyle factors such as body weight and eating habits.
• Fertility Issues
• Hirsutism-hair growth at unwanted places such as chin, face, nipples etc
• Hair thinning
• Balding or excessive hair loss
• Depression and Anxiety
• Sexual dysfunction
• Unexplained weight gain( especially around the tummy)
• Dark patches on the skin ( underarms, neck, inner thighs)
• Sleep apnoea
• Mood changes
P.S : PCOS is not weight dependant. Even thin people can have PCOS
HOW DO I DEAL WITH THIS?
Lifestyle change is key for women with PCOS, whether they are overweight or not. We need to be thoughtful about the foods we use to fuel our bodies, the exercise we choose, the toxins we are exposed to, and, just as importantly, mind-set, emotional, and mental care. I believe “A holistic approach to PCOS can have a significant effect in altering the quality of life.”
• If you’re feeling stressed, try to figure out what it is that’s stressing you out, and see whether you can adapt something in order to remove the problem that’s causing you stress.
• Connect to your feminine energy. Show yourself how wonderfully self-love can reduce stress and bring out the inner glow e.g. a spa day or cooking spree with your girlfriends or a retails therapy!
• Embrace your flaws because nobody is perfect. Look out for progress over perfection.
• Exercise regularly in whichever form you enjoy it, could be swimming, Pilates, dancing, cycling but watch out – all these are strenuous activities which add up to stress on your body. Thus, always follow up your workouts with cool down sessions such as meditations, stretches, deep breaths, etc.
• Eat wholesome foods as provided by Mother Nature in their least processed form to provide maximum nourishment to the body.
• Build up on fluids as it helps to clear out toxins from your system which show up in the form of acne/ boils on the surface.
• Stay away from processed foods and sugar-laden food items, fried foods and empty calories like carbonated beverages, which provide no nutrients to the body.
• Work on your sleep hygiene. Take a shower, spread clean sheets, dim your lights and put away all the gadgets at least 1 hour prior to bed-time as it helps calm your system down and keeps you fresh and motivated for the next morning.
• Each new day try doing at least one action that is good for your health and then build it up eventually.
Once again, PCOS is not a disease but a lifestyle syndrome. No medication can help you heal this better than taking charge of your own health and taking small steps towards it.
By NEHA RANGLANI (INTEGRATIVE NUTRITIONIST & HEALTH COACH)