PCOS is a common condition that occurs in women. According to research, 3.7 to 22.5% of women in India suffer from PCOS. This percentage varies from state to state and population density. The factors that promote PCOS mechanisms include abnormalities in leptin-adiponectin, oxidative stress, and autoimmunity. In India, it is becoming more common in recent generations. Most women even do not know if they have PCOS.
This article will discuss PCOS and some natural ways to treat it. In addition, it will talk about some of the symptoms and prevention tips to help you manage PCOS.
PCOS: An Introduction
PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome. It is a hormonal disorder that is common among reproductive-age women. Women with PCOS have irregular periods and an increase in male hormone androgen.
PCOS affects the ovaries, which are reproductive organs. These organs produce estrogen and progesterone, and a small amount of androgen. Women with PCOSstart to produce higher amounts of male hormones. This makes it hard to get pregnant and get regular periods.
PCOS also can lead to excess hair growth on the face and body and loss of hair from the scalp leading even to balding. In PCOS, women’s ovaries develop small fluid follicles and fail to release eggs regularly. Excess male hormones inhibit the menstrual cycle, and their periods are shorter. The cause of this syndrome is not well understood, but genetic and environmental factors influence it.
Primary Causes of PCOS
Research states that high levels of male hormones prevent ovaries from producing eggs. Hence irregular periods occur in women with PCOS. There are several other causes of PCOS.
PCOS is considered a complex genetic trait. Studies prove that multiple inherited factors cause PCOS. The genes drive testosterone production in ovaries, and too much production of this male hormone leads to PCOS. A rare gene variant found for the inheritance of PCOS is DENND1A. However, there is no clear pattern of having PCOS due to genetics.
Research also states that insulin resistance or diabetes is another factor causing PCOS in women. Up to 70% of women who had PCOS suffered from insulin resistance. Recent studies suggest that insulin acts through its own receptors rather than IGF-1 receptors in PCOS-affected women. When cells of our body cannot use insulin properly, it demands insulin. According to demand, the pancreas produces more insulin and this extra insulin triggers the ovaries to produce male hormones. The defect in insulin appears to be selective and affects metabolism, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure.
Research has also found the effect of inflammation in boosting PCOS. The study states that inflammation directly increases ovarian androgen production. Also, increasing abdominal adiposity affects inflammatory loads in PCOS. This study also found that hyperandrogenism modulates the effects of incendiary loads. Obese people suffer more from inflammation and are prone to PCOS. This excess inflammation increases androgen production and increases the impact of PCOS.
Common Symptoms of PCOS
Most women notice symptoms during their first period. Other women only know about it when they gain a lot of weight or have difficulty getting pregnant.
The most common symptoms of PCOS in women are:
The menstrual cycle should be on or around 28 days from the last ovulation. If you have irregular periods, it can be due to increased androgens. You should keep track of your regular menstrual cycle. Some women with PCOS only get eight periods a year, and some don’t.
Late periods can cause heavy bleeding. When a woman has a late period, the lining of her uterus takes longer to form and becomes thicker than in a regular period. As a result, whenever a woman with PCOS has periods, she has more bleeding and more periods than usual.
Unwanted Hair Growth
PCOS can cause an increase in body hair and facial hair. It is a normal effect of male androgen hormones. Also, studies have found that women suffering from PCOS suffer from baldness and hair loss. It is an effect of increased testosterone and androgen receptors in women. However, with the help of medical therapy, you can reduce the effects of androgen hormones.
Male hormones make skin more oily which is an invite to acne. It can cause breakouts on skin areas like the face, chest and upper back. It can also cause acne due to other period disorders other than PCOS.
One study found that obese women have a higher risk of PCOS and insulin resistance. Weight gain is due to environmental, genetic and insulin resistance factors that promote this disorder. Other studies also found that 80% of women with PCOS were obese.
Women with PCOS suffer from insulin resistance. This insulin resistance invites acanthosis nigricans. It is also known as the darkening of the skin. Women with PCOS suffered from acanthosis nigricans and had purple to dark skin in their underarm and collar areas.
Headaches are a prevalent problem among both men and women. However, it does not explicitly indicate that a woman having a headache is suffering from PCOS. It can cause headaches due to hypertension, dehydration, high body temperature and high blood pressure. Specifically, if you suffer from this disorder, you will get headaches in your regular daily routine.
Natural Treatment Options for PCOS
There are so many ways to get control over PCOS. However, it cannot be cured completely and needs a continuous eye on your body functioning. But yet, there are several ways, and natural remedies discovered that help you cope with PCOS better. Diet changes, adding some supplements, and relying on natural herbs may help with this disorder.
Some natural treatments include:
Dietary Modifications for PCOS
Diet plays an essential role in managing PCOS. Eating right and healthy gives you all essential nutrients and keeps your immune system strong and healthy. Avoiding fast foods and oily foods can keep you healthy for longer. Diet can both improve or worsen the effect of PCOS in women. Let us discuss some healthy eating habits you can practice in your daily routine to get rid of PCOS.
Limit Your Carb Intake
A study found that limiting carbs reduces the effect of PCOS. This study also states that lowering carbs improves ovulation, testosterone levels and insulin resistance. Therefore, a low carb diet may be superior to a standard diet to improve fertility and metabolic rate. Ensure that you have the right amount of protein through vegetarian or non-vegetarian sources and do not compromise on the nutrient value of the food.
Eat More Fibre-Rich Foods
Plenty of fibre is essential in your diet. It is not only about weight loss, but it has various other benefits. For example, it helps in bowel movements, a healthy heart, and an excellent digestive system. In addition, if one consumes a high fibre diet, one naturally observes calorie control.
Fibre has the property of making your stomach feel full for longer. In addition, if you have a high fibre diet, you automatically get protected against overeating. Apart from this, high fibre foods lower insulin resistance and belly fat in women with PCOS.
Eat Healthy Fats
Limiting fat reduces body fat is a myth. Fats are a significant part of our diet. It is essential to have fats in every meal of the day. Healthy fats are mostly unsaturated and do not increase body fat. A study states that having unsaturated fats in your diet may reduce the PCOS effect in women.
In addition, these are responsible for having healthy hair and skin and contain omega3 fatty acids. Ensure you are not consuming saturated fats; they try to sit in your body and are hard to burn out as energy.
Eat Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are foods with healthy gut bacteria, which will help you maintain a healthy digestive system. Usually, women with PCOS have fewer healthy gut bacteria. If one increases healthy gut bacteria, it may benefit women suffering from PCOS. Also, nutritional gut bacteria aid in weight loss in adults. Therefore, you should include such fermented foods in your daily diet. These foods work as probiotics for PCOS suffering women.
Limit Processed Foods and Sugar
Processed food contains preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and flavours that are not good for anyone. You should also control the sugar intake as these are high GI level foods and promote weight gain. In addition, sugars raise blood sugar levels, and women with PCOS have insulin restrictions. As a result, it may increase the risk of diabetes.
Eat Whole Foods, Fruits and Vegetables
Whole foods are free from artificial sugars and preservatives and do not contain harmful chemicals. Try to have unprocessed foods as it is from the source. Having such foods improves your vitamin profile and contains healthy macros. Some whole foods can be fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes you can add to your daily diet.
Adding Supplements to Your Diet
Maintaining your vitamin intake on a daily basis can be difficult due to changes in appetite or availability of food. Here come the supplements. Supplements are much better than relying on medications. You can use nutritional supplements if you cannot meet your vitamin profile through diet. There are some supplements you can take if you are suffering from PCOS.
Increase Iron Intake
A study found that iron deficiency is more common in females than males. As per this study, In IDA(iron deficiency anaemia) was the primary condition behind women leading longer lives with disabilities in 2016. Subsequent studies also show similar findings. This condition occurs due to a lack of iron in your body. Iron is an essential mineral that helps form haemoglobin, carries oxygen to the lungs, and aids hair growth. Therefore, women suffer more from iron deficiency, making them more prone to PCOS.
Inositol is a type of vitamin B used to reduce the risk of diabetes and control blood sugar levels. In addition, Inositol helps improve insulin resistance. Studies have found that myoinositol may decrease insulin resistance and improve insulin sensitivity. Inositol may reduce the effects of PCOS because women with PCOS have higher insulin resistance.
Chromium supplements are effective in weight management. Women of the obesity category or who had increased BMI got beneficial results after using chromium supplements. Obesity is a common cause of PCOS in women, so fixing it aids and protects women from PCOS. According to studies, the daily requirement of chromium is 35mcg.
Turmeric is a powerful component that boosts the immune system and aids in skin problems like acne, and helps you achieve an even skin texture. In addition, turmeric contains curcumin, which decreases insulin resistance and reduces the impact of PCOS in women.
Zinc is a well-known immune booster. These supplements help boost testosterone and the immune system in males and also fight male pattern baldness by reducing the effect of DHT(dihydrotestosterone). It can boost fertility and regular periods. It also aids in alopecia and female pattern baldness. In addition, zinc can reduce the effect of PCOS by making periods regular.
Consuming Natural Herbs for PCOS
When your body cannot regulate insulin levels, it affects the androgen hormone. Adaptogen herbs are found helpful in these insulin-related conditions. Improving your insulin regulation will stop triggering androgens and reduce the effect of PCOS. These herbs are also beneficial in getting regular periods and maintaining menstrual cycles regularly. Some of these herbs include:
Maca is a plant whose root helps treat infertility and boosts libido. In addition, it lowers cortisol levels and regulates other hormone functioning. It may also help in depression which is a common symptom of PCOS.
Ashwagandha treats fertility and boosts the sex drive. In addition, it works as an antidepressant. It may help regulate the overall functioning of the body and mind and can thus be beneficial in PCOS.
Lifestyle Modifications for PCOS
Exercise is well known for controlling PCOS. In addition, it helps PCOS women to improve insulin sensitivity and decrease hyperinsulinemia. Apart from curing the condition, exercise boosts body metabolism. People who exercise regularly have a low-fat percentage and healthy body posture. Therefore, women who exercise are leaner and have more vital muscle mass. It leads to better PCOS management.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is another significant factor leading to PCOS, blood pressure and heart failure. If you have PCOS, you may suffer from sleep disturbances like insomnia. In addition, less sleep often gives hormonal imbalances and cortisol boost. Therefore, proper sleep is essential to regulate your hormones. Also, lack of sleep provides the body with wrong hunger cues. As a result, one tends to overeat. Therefore, sleep deprivation, hunger, PCOS and subsequent health issues can all be connected.
Stress and obesity have a strong correlation. Stress increases the risk for obesity and other diseases like PCOS, cardiovascular diseases, blood pressure and diabetes. Also, chronic stress increases visceral fat. Yoga and meditation are
natural methods to reduce stress and stay in shape.
PCOS is a common problem nowadays. About 80% of women suffer from PCOS and do not even know about it. It is a significant factor which causes the expansion of this disorder, and later it becomes severe and leads to further complications. Obesity is also another major factor of PCOS. About 80% of PCOS women are obese. If you are not getting regular periods and suffering from depression or other symptoms, the best way to diagnose it is to see a doctor. It will confirm the results so you can get control over it on time. Having proper weight management and following a healthy exercise routine may help.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How can I solve PCOS naturally?
A. There are various factors for the occurrence of PCOS. Hence, you can naturally improve many conditions and changes to reduce PCOS’s effect. It may include diet changes(have a balanced macro diet with maximum micronutrients and vitamins). Also, having probiotics and herbal supplements like ashwagandha helps reduce the effect. In addition, having a healthy weight may help.
Q. Can PCOS be cured permanently naturally?
A. Doctors have found that it is impossible to cure PCOS at 100%. It is a lifelong disorder, and its effect keeps increasing and decreasing in various phases of life. Therefore, it is essential to keep track of your menstrual cycle and hormones to determine the state of PCOS in your body. In addition, natural measures like a healthy diet and regular exercise for weight management help to minimise the PCOS effect.
Q. Can I reduce my PCOS belly?
A. A survey found that women who did weight training three times a week saw a significant reduction in their belly fat and lean muscle mass. Workout and proper diet may help to reduce belly caused due to PCOS and aid in weight management. Having a BMI normal range of weight controls the effect of PCOS in women.
Q. Will my PCOS ever go away?
A. Till now, there has been no cure for PCOS. However, following some diet changes and a healthy lifestyle help reduce its effect. For example, having protein-rich and fibre-rich food helps maintain a healthy weight and manage PCOS. Also, having Ashwagandha like herbs and magnesium supplements helps manage PCOS.
Q. Can PCOS go away with weight loss?
A. PCOS is a lifelong disorder. There is no cure for PCOS, and it does not go away with weight loss. Yet having excess weight is an invitation to PCOS, and the following reverse may reduce or minimise the effect of PCOS. However, PCOS will again get a boost if the weight regains. You can minimise the impact with regular exercise and a healthy diet.
Q. What is the best age to get pregnant with PCOS?
A. Suppose the PCOS patient is under 35 and getting regular periods and a normal menstrual cycle. If the partner has no other medical condition and is fertile enough, they may proceed with the pregnancy. There should be no other medical conditions and deficiencies that can cause complications during pregnancy.
Q. What exercise is best for PCOS?
A. PCOS women can do cardio. Moderate walking or jogging also helps weight management and reduces blood cholesterol levels. Cardio also works as a metabolic booster and maintains a good and healthy heart and lungs.
Q. What happens if PCOS is left untreated?
A. If you don’t get treatment for PCOS on time, it may lead to severe complications. All of the PCOS symptoms like irregular periods, heavy bleeding, and depression may become chronic, and later on, they may lead to acne scars, heart diseases and even cancer. So it is better to keep reducing the PCOS effect.
Q. Does PCOS make your stomach big?
A. The most common problem of PCOS is weight gain. Women with PCOS suffer various hormonal imbalances and depression, leading to weight gain, and yes, it makes the stomach expand. More than 80% of women suffering from PCOS are overweight, which means you can have a big belly if you are suffering from PCOS.
Q. Can PCOS be reversed?
A. Not entirely, but yes, you can reverse it to the extent that one may not get any symptoms of PCOS. Following regular exercise and a healthy diet may make the effect negligible. Yet it cannot cure permanently, and you can gain it back anytime you cheat on your diet and exercise routine.
Q. At what age does PCOS start?
A. Commonly, women are diagnosed with PCOS when they get into trouble getting pregnant. But it is a myth that women only get PCOS after their teenage years. PCOS may occur even at the age of 11 or 12. It often begins at the earliest when a female has had her first period. You can inherit PCOS at any age, in the 20s or 30s. Be aware of your weight and insulin sensitivity as they play a significant role in PCOS over genetic factors.