What should Women know about PCOS?
Women Health is the biggest concern of all times. With diseases ranging from Diabetes, CVD, Hypertension and many more which are on rise these days among women, it becomes crucial to pay attention to needs of women which can be emotional, dietary, physical and psychological. In the series of blogs that mentions C-section, thyroid and diabetes, let’s now take a peek into one of the major problems that concerns women health that is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) says Sports Nutritionist Krupali Shah
With Polycystic Ovarian PCOS, a woman’s body secretes abnormally high levels of male hormones (androgens) and this counteracts her ovaries’ ability to make enough of the female hormone (progesterone) needed for normal menstruation. Because of the low level of female hormones, women with PCOS typically have fewer periods than most women (called oligomenorrhea) and sometimes have no periods at all (called amenorrhea). Their periods can also be irregular with lengthy bleeding episodes, light or heavy flows, or frequent spotting. It is estimated that more than 1 in 10 women are afflicted with PCOS.
Today's working women and PCOS
Modern life frequently presents unrelenting stressful situations over which we may have little control. These chronic stressors may include work pressures, long-term relationship problems, loneliness, abuse, and persistent worry.
Continual or frequent stress reactions eventually cause your body to become exhausted and no longer able to adequately respond to stress. You want to avoid this end point because it represents a very serious threat to your health.
1. A continual state of stress depresses serotonin, which increases anxiety, increases appetite, and is a trigger for depression.Stress also diminishes quality of life by robbing you of your sense of pleasure, security, accomplishment and empowerment. Alienation from enjoyment and a sense of well-being interrupts your ability to truly thrive.
2. Stress-induced cortisol,insulin resistance and numerous other factors predispose you to gain weight, especially around the middle. Abdominal fat gain is a predictor of diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
3. Women with central obesity (belly fat), whether obese or not, produce more of the stress hormone cortisol under repeated stress than women without belly fat. This is one example of the many vicious cycles caused by chronic stress. Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol contribute to belly fat, and increased belly fat increases the responsiveness of cortisol to stress.
PCOS and Pregnancy
Women with PCOS are at higher risk for certain problems or complications during pregnancy. In addition, infants born to mothers with PCOS are at higher risk of spending time in the neonatal intensive care unit or dying before, during, or right after birth. Complications of pregnancy associated with PCOS, such as preeclampsia, could be a reason for these risks. Also, conditions common to PCOS like metabolic syndrome and increased androgens may increase the risks affecting infants.
Probable Consequences. (Note : Depending on the severity of the case, these are the “can happen” consequences listed. Not all women in PCOS will suffer from these consequences)
1. Women with PCOS are three times as likely to miscarry in the early months of pregnancy as are women without PCOS. Some research shows that metformin may reduce the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women with PCOS. However, other studies have not confirmed that metformin reduces miscarriage risk, so more research needs to be done.
2. Gestational Diabetes: This is a type of diabetes that only pregnant women get. It is treatable and, if controlled, does not cause significant problems for the mother or fetus. In most cases, the condition goes away after the baby is born.
3. Preeclampsia, a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy, can affect the mother’s kidneys, liver, and brain. If left untreated, preeclampsia can turn into eclampsia. Eclampsia can cause organ damage, seizures, and even death.
4. Infants are considered “preterm” if they are delivered before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Preterm infants are at risk for many health problems, both right after birth and later in life, and some of these problems can be serious.
5. Pregnant women with PCOS are more likely to have C-sections because of the pregnancy complications associated with PCOS, such as pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. Because C-section delivery is a surgical procedure, recovery can take longer than recovery from vaginal birth and can carry risks for both the mother and infant.
Acne may stem from normal hormonal changes, such as those that occur around the menstrual cycle, or from a true hormonal disorder. Women with acne may have elevated levels of male hormones such as testosterone. Symptoms of this type of hormonal imbalance include hair growth on the face, a deepening of the voice, increased muscle mass and decreased breast size.
Why do I feel Lethargic?
Because of increase in body weight, you require more efforts to carry that body weight. Increasing weight and fat mass causes lethargy and you eventually end up sleeping or sitting for a longer time at one place and don’t feel like putting your body into some use. Also when you are trying to lose on weight you tend to put more efforts or over train yourself in gym which makes you exhausted and thus the next day not only its lethargy but also your body does not allow to bear same amount of over-training session which you did previously.
Why Can't I lose weight?
Women with PCOS have hormonal and metabolic disturbances that prevents weight loss. Also metabolism works slower as compared to women who do not have PCOS. Hypothyroid and PCOS go hand in hand, which is also one of the reasons why you can’t easily lose weight.
But Losing weight should be the primary goal of women suffering from PCOS because when you start losing weight (slowly not abruptly), your body’s metabolism and hormonal function would now start achieving balance and signals from brain and muscles and the symptoms of PCOS would eventually reduce and diet,medications and exercise will then affect your body in a way you want it to. So Diet, medications, exercise and eventual weight loss helps you achieve normal hormonal functions.
How do I manage PCOS?
- If you’re overweight, lose weight by limiting yourself to 1,500 calories per day. Losing weight is one of the biggest factors in controlling PCOS symptoms, particularly if you’re trying to get pregnant.
- Eat regular meals (but don’t pile your plate), and have a couple of small snacks during the day.Don’t let yourself get hungry.
- Follow a low-GI diet by substituting low-GI carbs for high-GI carbs. The glycemic index (GI) measures how a carbohydrate affects blood sugar. High-GI foods break down quickly into glucose while low-GI foods are absorbed more slowly. Low-GI foods stabilize your blood sugar, while high-GI foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Refined sugars are high-GI foods, while fruits and vegetables are generally low-GI.
- Limit the fat in your diet. Cut down particularly on saturated and trans fats (including fatty meat, butter, cakes, pastries, and cookies).
- Use as little salt as possible. Look at labels of processed foods to try to keep your total sodium intake below 2,400 milligrams a day.
- Eat at least five helpings of fruit and vegetables every day.
- Get some physical activity every day. Half an hour is great, but an hour is even better to help keep your weight under control. Remember to start slowly and incorporate both aerobic and weight-bearing exercise into your routine. You don’t have to do all your exercise at one time — 10 minutes of exercise three times a day is just as good as 30 minutes all at once.
- Be active every day and then at least three to four times a week aim for 30 to 45 minutes of more vigorous exercise. A balanced mix of activities that include aerobic, resistance and flexibility/stretching exercises will give the best results. Variety is also important – if you are getting bored, it is time to try something new!
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