How Diet Can Help PCOS Sufferers
Up to 10% of women of child bearing age will be affected by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can impact on weight, ovulation and fertility levels amongst other things. PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. There are many drug treatments on offer for PCOS sufferers. However, there is a growing acknowledgment that diet can be a key factor in managing this condition. What we eat impacts on our bodies and for women with PCOS, dietary changes can help improve reproductive health.
How Does PCOS Affect Fertility?
PCOS affects the natural balance of hormones. Women with PCOS produce high levels of insulin which in turn causes their bodies to produce greater levels of male hormones and androgens. This can lead to irregular cycles, problems with ovulation, weight gain and unwanted hair growth.
Is There An Ideal Diet For PCOS?
There is no perfect diet for PCOS sufferers but research has shown that reducing carbohydrates in the daily intake can help to manage PCOS. In general, women hoping to conceive are advised to cut back on caffeine and alcohol. Any change in diet should be seen as a change in lifestyle. Women with PCOS need to find ways of eating balanced and nutritious meals that will satisfy hunger but not exacerbate their medical problems.
What Is The Connection With Carbohydrates?
Foods that are rich in carbohydrates such as bread, rice, potato and pasta are quickly broken down into sugars. The sugar is then absorbed into the blood and increases the levels of insulin that are released into the cells. Carbohydrates are a necessary part of a well balanced diet but there are different types of carbohydrates and choosing wisely can make all the difference.
The aim is for balance in insulin levels so that ovulation is not negatively affected by the hormonal swings. There are two types of carbohydrates, fast carbs and slow carbs. The fast carbs such as cereals, white rice and potatoes have been linked to a higher risk of ovulatory infertility. Slow carbs such as brown rice and wholegrain bread have been linked to greater success in conceiving.
-Never skip breakfast as this increases sugar cravings later in the day
-Avoid eating too many refined sugars and carbohydrates
-Regular exercise will help with weight reduction and general health
-Eat three meals a day and leave no more than four hours between meals
Having PCOS and struggling to conceive is very hard and can impact on self esteem and relationships. However even small amounts of weight loss in PCOS sufferers have been shown to improve insulin resistance and ovarian function.