Nutrition Made Simple


October 19 2021



Polycystic ovary syndrome abbreviated as PCOS is a condition wherein the woman's hormone levels are affected. Women with PCOS have higher levels of male hormones.  Such women find it harder to get pregnant because the hormone imbalance causes them to skip their menses. 

Women with PCOS have abnormal hair growth on their face and body. Further, PCOS contributes to many health issues, including diabetes and heart diseases. To relieve their symptoms, women are prescribed birth control pills and diabetes drugs. To know more about PCOS, what causes PCOS and how to treat it, continue reading further. 

What is Polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS)?

PCOS affect women during their childbearing years that are between age 15 to 44. Many women have PCOS though they are not aware of the same. According to the studies, nearly 70 per cent of women with PCOS had not been diagnosed. 

As the name suggests, PCOS affects women's ovaries. Ovaries are the reproductive organs that produce two important hormones namely estrogen and progesterone. These hormones regulate the menstrual cycle. Besides estrogen and progesterone, ovaries also produce a small number of androgens, the male hormones.

PCOS is a syndrome meaning that it is a group of symptoms that affect ovaries and ovulation. The three characteristic features of PCOS are:

  • cysts in ovaries
  • increased male hormones
  • skipped or irregular periods

The word polycystic means numerous cysts and hence PCOS is characterised by many fluids filled sacs inside ovaries. These sacs are nothing else but the immature eggs containing follicles. Now, this egg never matured to trigger ovulation. Due to the absence of ovulation, levels of estrogen, progesterone, Follicle-stimulating hormone(FSH), and Luteinizing hormone(LH) is altered. While the levels of estrogen and progesterone fall, the level of androgens rises. The increased level of androgen disrupts menstrual cycle resulting in women experiencing fewer periods than usual.

What causes PCOS?

The exact cause of PCOS is not known. Doctors believe that high levels of androgens prevent ovaries to produce hormones resulting in no mature egg formation. Following are some factors that are linked to excess androgen production.

  • Genes: It is believed that many genes contribute towards PCOS making it a hereditary condition.
  • Insulin resistance: Nearly 70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance. This means that their cells are unable to utilize insulin properly. Insulin is required to maintain blood glucose levels. Extra insulin triggers ovaries to produce more androgens.
  • Inflammation: It has been seen that women with PCOS have increased inflammation in their body. According to studies, increased inflammation is linked with high androgen level.

What Are Common Symptoms of PCOS?

Some women experience the symptoms of PCOS during their first period while other women discover that they have PCOS only after they gain a lot of weight or when they have difficulty getting pregnant. Following are the most common PCOS symptoms:

  • Irregular Periods: Since there is no ovulation, there is no shedding of the uterine lining every month. Women with PCOS may have less than eight periods in a month.
  • Heavy Bleeding: Whenever you get periods, you may experience heavy bleeding. This is because the uterine lining has been building up for a long duration.
  • Hair Growth: Women with PCOS experience excess hair growth on their face, back, belly and chest. This is called hirsutism.
  • Acne: Due to androgens, women may have more oily skin resulting in more breakouts on the face, chest and upper back. 
  • Weight Gain: Women with PCOS usually are overweight or obese.
  • Male Pattern Baldness: It has been observed that women with PCOS have thinner hair on the scalp. 
  • Darkening of Skin: Women may experience dark patches of skin in body creases like those on the neck, under the vest and in the groin.
  • Headaches: Due to hormonal fluctuations, you may experience a tight headache.

How PCOS can affect your body?

The high androgen level in your body can not only affect your fertility but your overall health as well. 

  • Infertility: PCOS is one of the major causes of infertility in women. Lack of ovulation results in no egg formation leading to infertility.
  • Metabolic Syndrome: Women with PCOS are generally overweight or obese. Obesity and PCOS increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
  • Sleep Apnea: If a woman is obese and has PCOS then there is more risk of sleep apnea. In sleep apnea, there is difficulty in breathing during the night which interrupts sleep.
  • Depression: Women with PCOS may experience depression and anxiety due to hormonal changes and other symptoms.

Diet and lifestyle tips to treat PCOS:

Women with PCOS should focus on lifestyle changes like weight loss, diet and exercise. 

Weight loss can help in the regulation of the menstrual cycle and thereby improving PCOS symptoms. A low carb diet can help in weight loss as well as lowers insulin level. It is believed that a low glycemic index diet helps in better regulation of menstrual cycle as compared to the regular weight loss diet. Low glycemic index diet can be achieved from fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Also, it is recommended to do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity workout for three days a week. Diet and exercise will help you to lose more weight than either alone. It reduces the risk of diabetes and heart diseases as well. 

Though some studies show that acupuncture is effective in improving PCOS. Yet more research is needed to conclude the same. 

This article is the sole opinion of the author and Alvizia Healthcare holds no responsibility for the content. *

Tagged: Multivitamins-Women, Women-Health


Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

Subscribe to our newsletter

Signup for our newsletter to stay up to date on sales and events.