As a woman you have the potential of wonderful experiences like bringing new life into the world. There isn’t a mother out there who doesn’t revile in being called “Mom” and watching their baby grow and experience firsts like their first words, steps, day in school, and much more. There are tradeoffs of this gift and some women develop hormone related problems. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one such problem that occurs when a woman’s hormones are off balance. These hormonal changes that lead to PCOS start to occur in pre-teens after their first period. Symptoms include irregular periods, hair loss/hair growth, and difficulty getting pregnant. These symptoms also tend to accelerate with weight gain.
No one knows what exactly causes PCOS and there is no cure. Your doctor may prescribe birth control pills or hormone therapy to help your symptoms be more manageable. But some of us want to take more control of our situation and not have to rely on medication alone. If you want to empower yourself there are changes you can make to not only manage your symptoms of this disease, but create a new, healthy you. There are a number of ways you can do this:
- Losing weight may be all you will need to do to help balance out your hormones. It may not even take very much weight loss to make the difference. A few lost pounds may be all you need to lose and maintain. The next two ways to manage PCOS will come so no surprise with weight loss coming in as first.
- You guessed right; its exercise. Don’t like to run on the treadmill? Take a cardio class, lift weights, or bike outside. Keeping your body moving regularly will help you maintain/lose that weight. There are a lot of options out there and if you need help finding some, there are ways you can try out what works for you. Work with a trainer at your local gym to get their expertise. Most cities have Groupon offers where you can try out that different activities like kickboxing, Zumba, and others.
- Forget the fad diets and “Get skinny quick” plans, balance you’re eating habits with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Decrease your sodas, sugar, and processed foods. You don’t have to completely give up on your chocolate cakes or French fries. It’s all about moderation and finding what works for you. Food choices that individuals suffering from diabetes should be very similar to what you should strive for. Your doctor or a nutrientist can also help you figure out the best changes to make in your eating habits.
- Do you smoke? If you have been putting off doing away with this habit, now is the time to snuff it out permanently. Climbing the mountain can be a perilous journey, but the reward at the end is well worth the effort.
- Vitamin supplements can help you get it the important nutrients to supplement your newly found balanced diet. There have been some case studies that have shown improvement in symptoms with women who added 1,000 mg of calcium a day and 100,000 IU of vitamin D a month to their 1500 mg dose of metformin. This medication is common for the treatment of PCOS symptoms. Low magnesium levels are usually associated with diabetes, very similar to women with PCOS, who also suffer from insulin resistance. Chromium has been shown to regulate insulin while Omega-3s has been shown to decrease androgen levels for women with PCOS. Therefore adding magnesium and Omega-3 (typically in the form of fish oil) can also help women suffering with PCOS.
- You may have to directly target some of PCOS symptoms. For hair loss of the scalp, try natural treatments like jojoba oil to nourish your hair. Massage in 2 tbsp. of the oil into your scalp before washing it out. Do not try topical treatments like minoxidil as these treatments have not had any proven results for women with PCOS. Do not pull your hair back or chose hair styles that may aggravate your scalp further like hair color, bleach, and perms. Frequently washing your hair may also strip it of essential oils. If you have the money, options such as electrolysis could be explored.Do you have excess hair? Your can do the usual shaving, plucking, and waxing of the hair to remove it. Or try eflornithine cream, which slows hair growth by blocking an enzyme that is necessary for growth.
- If your problem is with acne, there are ways you can clear up your skin. Retinoids are antibacterial agents that can be used in various forms to treat acne. Because they can cause birth defects, you will want to avoid them if you are looking to become pregnant.