5 Natural Ways to Help Ease Your PCOS Symptoms
Being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is both a blessing and a curse. What’s the blessing, you may wonder? Well, consider yourself fortunate that you have a doctor or medical professional who recognized the symptoms and connected the dots. All too often, women with PCOS are never diagnosed and, therefore, never get the treatment they need to balance their symptoms or work towards a happy and healthy conception.
The curse, of course, is that PCOS is a bit of a mystery syndrome, even though it’s the most common endocrine disorder affecting women of childbearing age (as many as 20% of women may have PCOS). Many of the more traditional treatments involved prescription hormone medications and, while they are often effective, they can come with side effects of their own. There are also natural remedies that have been shown to provide relief from the symptoms of PCOS, which include things like irregular or nonexistent periods, thinning hair, abnormal hair growth on the face and other parts of the body, acne, ovarian cysts, obesity and recurrent miscarriages.
Have You Been Diagnosed With PCOS? Try These Natural Ways for Relieving the Symptoms
There are things you can do and lifestyle changes you can make to help mitigate the less fortunate symptoms of PCOS. Because insulin-resistance often goes hand-in-hand with PCOS, dietary changes are the first step to help balance your blood sugar levels and reduce your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- Balance your proteins and carbs. When your proteins and carbohydrates are in balance, it’s easier for your body to keep your blood sugar levels in check. When blood sugars are in check, so too are your insulin levels and this increases your chances of fertility. Try to only consume whole-grain and sprouted breads and snacks and stay away from the processed carbs as much as possible.
- Shoot for low-glycemic sweeteners. Different sugars have a different effect on your body and its insulin production. Everyone should try to use sweeteners with that register low on the glycemic index, but it’s especially important for women with PCOS. Refined sugars, like the white sugar used in just about everything as well as corn-based sweeteners, play havoc on our pancreases. You are much better off using sweeteners like stevia, xylitol and agave syrup. We don’t recommend using fake/synthetic sweeteners because the health verdict is still out on those.
- Cut your caffeine intake. It turns out that women who drink two or more cups of coffee per day have significantly higher levels of estrogen in their bodies (upwards of 70% more!) during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. With PCOS, you are already battling hormonal issues at this phase of the game so you don’t want to contribute to the problem. This may be a time to switch to nominal amounts of caffeine per day, or cut it out entirely. Plus, too much caffeine isn’t good for your developing fetus so you might as well kick the habit now.
- Eat organic foods. Environmental toxins are also thought to be a reason why PCOS is increasingly common. Pesticides are a major contributing factor for fertility issues in both women and men. Do yourself and your partner’s sperm a favor by eating foods that are pesticide-free. Along those lines, your higher-protein diet (see #1) means you may be consuming more meat than usual. Invest in hormone-free animal products to give your body a chance to get its own hormone levels in check. Most commercial meat and dairy products are laden with estrogen, which is given to animals to make them grow bigger faster and/or produce more milk. It’s not good for them, and it’s not good for you.
- Exercise at least five times a week. There are so many reasons why exercising regularly is a good idea, even before we get into its effects on PCOS. However, exercise is particularly important for women with PCOS. Both cardio and resistance workouts are valuable so incorporate them both. However, resistance exercises seem to have a more positive effect on insulin sensitivity. Your goal should be at least a 30-minute workout, five times per week. Exercising will boost your metabolism, help you lose weight and make you feel great in the meantime.
If you think you have PCOS and are ready to try getting pregnant, schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist to chart your course of action. The sooner you begin making valuable changes to your diet and lifestyle, the more likely you will be to have a successful conception.
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