No matter when you receive your diagnosis of PCOS, it can be overwhelming to understand what the condition is and why it occurs. Couple that with unsolicited advice and your mental health feels cluttered and your physical health – out of control. In such times, it is best to consult your doctor and seek help about your overall well-being.
If you have PCOS, you have an imbalance in your hormones and most of your symptoms are because androgens (male sex hormones) are present in high levels. These androgens do not let the ovary ovulate and form small fluidic sacs in the ovaries, which leads to thickening of the ovaries. Simultaneously, your insulin levels also rise in your blood. All this can interject the process of ovulation and cause irregular periods.
Although there is no cure for PCOS, you can manage all your symptoms and prevent the risk of developing future complications. When starting out your treatment, working closely with your doctor is important for your PCOS journey.
There are a number of treatment options available based on your symptoms and concerns. Here are some things that can expect from PCOS treatments:
Since there is no singular cause of why PCOS occurs, there is no single treatment plan for PCOS. PCOS does not have a cure but its symptoms can be managed in the long-run and you can prevent the risk of developing future complications too. Your treatment plan needs to be personalized to your symptoms and concerns. Which means generic diet plans, random exercise regime or just having a birth control pill won’t cure your PCOS.
One of the first advice to women with PCOS is to manage their weight and sustain it in a healthy range. In women with PCOS who are overweight, the risk of developing long term complications is higher compared to women who do not have PCOS. A nutritionally-rich and well-portioned diet can help you lose weight and make sure that your body does not go into deficit of essential nutrients. Plenty of whole grains, green leafy vegetables and lots of good protein sources can help you maintain a sustainable diet. Your PCOS diet should not feel restrictive.
Your diet should be a way to provide your body with all the essential nutrients without having to restrict yourself in indulging in your favourite foods. Being mindful of the choices you make along with practicing portion control can help in developing healthy eating habits.
Along with diet, exercise is also an important part of losing weight and maintaining a healthy life. Research says that at least 120 minutes of good physical activity in a week is suitable to keep you energetic and active. Most commonly, women with PCOS may find it tedious to go about strenuous physical activity, but that is because they haven’t chosen an activity that is fun or compatible with their body. Such mistakes can make it difficult for you to maintain a routine that can treat your symptoms. A wholesome diet and a reliable workout routine can do wonders if followed rigorously.
Birth control pills not only help manage PCOS symptoms, they also reduce the risk of developing uterine cancer and is an easily reversible method of birth control if you’re wanting to get pregnant. The combined oral contraceptive pill which contains both estrogen and progesterone works by reducing the ovarian production of male hormones. It also increases the production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which binds to the androgens in the blood and therefore reducing the amount of excess androgens and the resulting symptoms.
While metformin is a drug that is used to treat diabetes, it can also be prescribed for other uses. Women with PCOS may be given metformin to reduce insulin resistance and the production of androgens (male hormones). This can improve the function of the ovary and re-establish regular periods. Usually metformin is prescribed to women who have a definitive sign of prediabetes/type 2 diabetes or show signs of insulin resistance or to boost fertility and chances of conception. Some people are able to stop taking metformin, by putting their diabetes into remission or by decreasing their insulin resistance. Remission means that your blood sugar levels are within the healthy range without the need of taking any medication.
Treating excessive hair growth
You may feel like your self-esteem is dropping because of how you look and feel about your body. PCOS changes your body- both physically and emotionally. Hirsutism or excessive growth of hair can affect your body image and getting rid of them can feel exhaustive. On the other hand, alopecia or loss of hair can also trigger self-consciousness. There are medicines that can target these conditions such as oral contraceptives, spironolactone and flutamide that can target the male hormones you produce and suppress them.
Since many women with PCOS don’t ovulate regularly, it affects the chances of conception. Apart from lifestyle changes, certain ovulation induction medicines can help induce ovulation i.e. egg release and hence increase the chances of conceiving successfully. Clomiphene and Letrozole are used to stimulate ovulation, and Metformin is also prescribed to women, to promote overall fertility. Metformin is usually prescribed to treat diabetes, but in this case, Metformin can act as an agent to lower insulin and blood sugar levels, along with cholesterol levels. These medicines are prescribed by doctors based on your symptoms and the degree to which your PCOS has affected you, so it is recommended to not self-experiment or administer doses by your own will.
With PCOS, it is important for you to discuss the right course of action with your doctor so that you are aware of the treatment options that will work for you. There have been numerous cases where a good diet, regular exercise, and stress management have worked in tandem in improving your PCOS symptoms naturally. Trusting your doctor and your body is important and equally vital for you to know to not compare your own journey with anyone else.
Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician