- PCOS/PCOD treatment
- Despite there being no known cure for polycystic ovary syndrome; there are a variety of treatments available which can effectively control the symptoms.
- Hormone therapy is often used as a PCOS treatment as a way of alleviating certain symptoms. In some cases, anti-male hormone drugs such as cyproterone acetate, spironolactone, flutamide and finasteride are used to block any unwanted hair growth, acne and high testosterone levels.
- Metformin, a drug commonly used by diabetes sufferers has been found to be an effective PCOS treatment. It has been found to increase ovulation within women who have the condition. Experts believe it may reduce health risks linked to insulin resistance and the effect of abnormal hormone levels.
- This is a fertility drug occasionally offered to sufferers as a PCOS treatment. This is because clomiphene is capable of stimulating the ovaries if the woman is not ovulating.
- A PCOS treatment that slows down the growth of unwanted facial hair by blocking the action of an enzyme found in the follicles, which is needed for hair to grow. Whilst this is not a treatment that removes hair or cures unwanted facial hair, it has been found to be most effective when used with a hair-removal product.
- A treatment option for women with PCOS may be to undergo a minor surgical procedure. Laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) is a treatment offered to women suffering with the fertility problems often associated with the condition. The ovaries are treated with either heat or laser, to target and break down the tissue producing the male hormone.
Does your weight make a difference?
- Weight gain is one of the most common side effects of PCOS. Whilst it is essential that sufferers seek professional medical advice and treatment for the condition, a suitably qualified nutrition professional could provide individuals with extra support if they are struggling to manage their PCOS diet independently.
- Individuals losing just five per cent of their body weight will experience an improvement in symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.
A PCOS diet
- It is thought that a nutritious diet will also help to reduce the risk of developing symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, including weight management and helping to regulate insulin levels.
- Finding the right diet to tackle the symptoms of PCOS is a complex process and highly individual.
- Contacting a suitably qualified nutrition professional will help you understand and manage the dietary and lifestyle changes.
- Following a low GI (glycemic index) diet
- The glycemic index is a way to monitor how quickly the blood glucose rises after eating carbohydrates. Foods with a low GI can cause your blood levels to rise slowly. It is thought that these are helpful in reducing the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Low GI foods can improve and help balance insulin levels; women with PCOS are often resistant to the effects of insulin, therefore have more insulin in their blood. This rise in insulin levels means the levels of testosterone are also increased. The increase in both insulin and testosterone upsets the natural hormone balance in the body, often causing symptoms to flare up.
- Women with the condition may find replacing high GI foods effective, even if they do not need to lose weight. It has also been found that when combined with weight-loss, a low GI diet can help regulate the menstrual cycle.
- As well as the potential to help ease some of the symptoms worsened by being overweight, a nutritious diet will also help to reduce a woman’s risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and improve overall health and well-being.
- Below are some of the foods to include in a PCOS diet:
- Fruit - Fruit is rich in fiber and is a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. Whilst many women are reluctant to add fruits into their PCOS diet due to the sugar content, when eaten in the correct portions and as a whole fruit as opposed to dried or juiced, it can be an extremely healthy alternative to unhealthy snacks. Fruit is vital in providing the body with the nutrients needed to combat the symptoms of PCOS.
- Fruits with a low GI include cherries, plums, apricots, prunes and grapes.
- If concerned about the rise in blood sugar and insulin levels caused by fruit, enjoy a handful of seeds or nuts as a side snack - the protein in the seeds can help regulate the rising glucose levels. Aim for two to three portions of fruit per day and increase your vegetable intake for fiber, minerals and antioxidants.
- Chromium is an important mineral involved in regulating blood sugar and insulin levels. This can sometimes be low in a highly refined diet; opting for more complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, broccoli and nuts can help to provide this.
- Healthy fats - Unsaturated fats are essential in managing the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital in a PCOS diet as they help maintain the cell wall, which absorbs the nutrients we need. EFAs also help to rebalance hormones, manage weight and can help fertility. ‘Healthy’ fats can include oily fish (salmon or mackerel), avocado and olive oil.
- However, care should be taken - simply switch the fats you are already having to unsaturated fats, rather than adding extra into your diet in order to avoid weight gain.
- Magnesium rich foods are also important to include. This is because a deficiency in magnesium has recently been linked with an increased risk of insulin resistance. Dark, leafy greens, nuts and seeds can help provide you with the mineral.
- Organic meat - It is important to eat good quality, lean meat if you suffer with PCOS. Grass-fed meat often contains fewer hormones and the livestock are less likely to have been fed genetically modified foods. The GM foods fed to standard livestock will often contain pesticides, if consumed, it can be more difficult to manage hormone levels and treat symptoms of PCOS.
- In addition to organic meat, organic dairy products, best in the form of live, natural yoghurt, (rather than cheese or milk) are advised as it contains bacteria beneficial in a diet for PCOS.
- Pregnancy - If you are trying to get pregnant, it is particularly important to consider whether you are getting the right amount of nutrients in your PCOS diet. For support and advice on following a healthy PCOS diet, consult a suitably qualified nutrition professional.
- It has been found that the sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) is usually low in women with PCOS. Lignans, found in flax and sesame seeds, chickpeas and carrots are reported to increase this.