Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common problem among menstruating women. However, research reveals that PCOS incidence is higher in younger women—specifically those aged 16-40, with its prevalence at 5.2% across different ethnicities and age groups. Researchers believe that the ongoing obesity epidemic is one contributor to the prevalence of PCOS among younger women, which can be a challenge as they grow up. After all, PCOS is more than a period problem. Besides impacting fertility and causing pain, it affects women’s mental health and quality of life. For instance, women with PCOS may develop anxiety and eating disorders over the stress they feel about their condition. Long-term PCOS complications—like type 2 diabetes and heart disease—can also prevent them from enjoying daily activities. Fortunately, you can manage PCOS and its symptoms in sustainable ways. While these won’t cure it, they can improve your quality of life. Here are some ways to do so:
WEIGHT GAIN: Follow a healthy and sustainable diet
PCOS often causes weight gain due to excess insulin production. This increases your hunger and promotes fat storage, resulting in weight changes. As time passes, this weight gain can contribute to developing health complications, including diabetes. You can prevent this by changing your eating habits, specifically your diet. A PCOS diet for weight loss prioritizes keeping your blood sugar steady to address your insulin levels. This is why experts recommend high-fiber diets with lots of fruits, vegetables, and complex carbs, as fiber doesn’t affect glucose levels. Eating protein—like chicken and tofu—for every meal is also recommended because this will help you feel fuller for longer, combating the hunger that comes with PCOS. Try developing a sustainable diet with foods like these to meet your nutritional needs and ease your PCOS symptoms.
EMOTIONAL DISTRESS: Find a support system
Dealing with PCOS can get emotional because of your pain, health issues, and struggles. As such, this can cause emotional distress. PCOS is associated with inflammation in different body parts, leading to high cortisol levels and stress. Meanwhile, experts theorize that the link between PCOS and depression is due to fluctuating insulin levels that affect your mind’s learning and reward systems and obesity, which can lower self-confidence. A sustainable way to deal with these is by finding a support system. Sharing your struggles with family, friends, or a mental health expert can ease the emotional burden of living with PCOS. This way, you don’t have to carry your emotional burdens alone.
SLEEPING APNEA: Set a regular sleeping schedule
Having trouble sleeping is another PCOS symptom. Women with PCOS have a higher risk of sleep apnea due to changing reproductive steroid levels. This causes you to stop breathing during sleep. Left unaddressed, this can increase your risk of developing diabetes. Having a regular sleep schedule can help you with sleep apnea. Sleeping for 7–8 hours nightly supports better hormonal balance, so your reproductive hormones could have better chances of reaching stable levels. To start, avoid using digital devices before bed to avoid disrupting the melatonin surge in your body. You can also try setting a strict bedtime to start building the habit and improving your sleep quality.
ACNE: Prioritize self-care
PCOS causes skin problems, like acne, due to high androgen levels. This causes excess sebum production that leads to acne formation. Having acne is not only painful for some, but it can also impact your self-confidence.
You can manage acne by prioritizing self-care, such as regularly changing your pillowcases to avoid oil buildup, avoiding using oil-based products on your skin, and regularly washing your face with a gentle cleanser. This also means being proactive with skincare by being consistent with these habits—not just when experiencing breakouts. By doing so, you can reduce acne formation.
PCOS symptoms can be sustainably managed for a better overall quality of life. Remember these tips to alleviate your symptoms!
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