Living with PCOS
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a more common condition than you might think – the NHS estimates it may affect as many of 20% of women in the UK, though an accurate figure is hard to pin down as so many people are undiagnosed.
It’s not widely understood, with scientists still unsure what the initial cause of the syndrome is, and among the public it inspires more anxiety than understanding. For some people PCOS (the common abbreviation) is simply a synonym for infertility. Today we’re taking a closer look at the condition to try and spread some understanding and make it all a bit less scary.
PCOS is a syndrome, which literally means it’s a bundle of symptoms that frequently appear together. The most common are weight gain, which is caused by an overproduction of insulin – which also causes your body to create to much androgen which has further knock on effects: hirsutism (unwanted hair growth), skin discolouration and disruptions to your menstrual cycle that can have a dramatic effect on your fertility.
PCOS can cause a sort of feedback loop in your body: too much insulin causes you to lose sensitivity to its effects and gain weight, and if you’re overweight your body naturally produces more insulin. This locks you into a cycle which worsens all your other symptoms.
Losing some weight (as little as five percent) can significantly improve the other symptoms of PCOS, and regular exercise can help to improve your mental health too.
Diet and Lifestyle
If you’re living with PCOS, a healthy diet becomes all the more important. It can be a part of your weight loss plans, as above, but it can also do more good. Adding more green vegetables to your diet gives you a boost in B complex vitamins, which help your body manage insulin more effectively and so help to address the problem directly.
The biggest challenge PCOS presents is to your fertility. It affects your body’s ability to mature and release an egg each month to be inseminated. If you don’t ovulate, there’s nothing way for you to get pregnant.
There are two halves of this problem to address: stimulating more regular ovulation and recognising it when it happens so you can take advantage of it!
All the other measures we’ve described above can help to stimulate and regulate ovulation, but fertility medication could well have a part to play as well. Different kinds of are available, depending on your specific health needs but Clomid is one that’s regularly prescribed.
Using a temperature based fertility tracker like OvuSense, PCOS medication from your doctor, and a lifestyle tuned to improve fertility can all boost your fertility and mean that polycystic ovary syndrome need be no bar to getting pregnant.