Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Diet Chart & Treatment

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a set of symptoms due to elevated androgens (male hormones) in females. PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder among women between the ages of 18 and 44.

The most common PCOS symptoms are:

  • Irregular periods – A lack of ovulation prevents the uterine lining from shedding every month. Some women with PCOS get fewer than eight periods a year.
  • Heavy bleeding – The uterine lining builds up for a longer period of time, so the periods you do get can be heavier than normal.
  • Hair growth – More than 70 percent of women with this condition grow hair on their face and body — including on their back, belly, and chest. Excess hair growth is called hirsutism.
  • Acne – Male hormones can make the skin oilier than usual and cause breakouts on areas like the face, chest, and upper back.
  • Weight gain – Up to 80 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or obese .
  • Male-pattern baldness – Hair on the scalp gets thinner and fall out.
  • Darkening of the skin – Dark patches of skin can form in body creases like those on the neck, in the groin, and under the breasts.
  •  Headaches – Hormone changes can trigger headaches in some women.

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Causes: 

Genetic factors, insulin resistance, and inflammation have all been linked to PCOS.

Diagnosis:

  1. Blood tests : Androgens levelS, Serum insulin-like growth factor (IGF) ̶ 1 level, Follicle-stimulating hormone  (FSH), Luteinizing hormone  (LH) Levels & Thyroid-stimulating hormone and free thyroxine levels.
  2. Imaging for PCOS : Ultrasound uses sound waves to look for abnormal follicles, cyst & other problems with your ovaries and uterus.
  3. Histologic Findings: In PCOS, histologic changes of the ovary include enlarged, sclerotic, multiple cystic follicles.

Diet Chart and lifestyle tips to treat PCOS:

Studies comparing diets for PCOS have found that low-carbohydrate diets are effective for both weight loss and lowering insulin levels. A low glycemic index (low-GI) diet that gets most carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps regulate the menstrual cycle better than a regular weight loss diet .

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Do’s And Dont’s: 

Do’s

  • Gradually increase the intake of high fiber carbohydrates.
  • Emphasize lean protein foods.
  • Include mono unsaturated and omega 3 fatty acid foods.
  • Include different fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink minimum 2 liter water.
  • Do regular exercise.

Dont’s

  • High GI foods like pasta, white rice and starchy vegetables. These foods cause a sudden spike in blood sugar causing insulin release.
  • Dairy products should be avoided although they are important for a balanced diet. Dairy products tend to cause an increase in testosterone levels. This is because of a certain protein found in these foods. This will aggravate symptoms of PCOS.
  • Soy products lead to delayed ovulation. This can be very harmful for women with PCOS.
  • Unhealthy fats, namely saturated fats, trans-fats and hydrogenated fats cause increased estrogen production. This promotes weight gain in women with PCOS. They can also hinder nutrient absorption.
  • Caffeine in general affects fertility in women. It increases the levels of estradiol which is an estrogen hormone. This affects the menstrual cycle and ovulation.
  • Alcohol consumption puts women at a higher risk of developing PCOS. This is because alcohol puts a lot of pressure on the liver. The liver is the main organ when it comes to removing excess estrogen in the body. When the liver works on keeping the alcohol level in check, estrogen levels increase abnormally.
  • Any processed food contains preservatives, chemicals and added flavors. This releases certain hormones in the body that in turn increase insulin levels.

Food Items You Can Easily Consume:

  1. Cereal: Brown rice, whole wheat, oats, jowar, bajra, ragi
  2. Pulses: red gram, green gram, black gram, bengal gram
  3. Vegetables: all gourds-bitter gourd, snake gourd, ridge gourd, bottle gourd, ivy gourd, ladies finger, tinda,green leafy vegetables
  4. Fruits: citrus fruits-orange, mousambi, grape fruit, lemon; berries-strawberry, blueberry, black berry; cranberry, cherries, papaya, pineapple, guava.
  5. Milk and milk products: low fat milk, low fat curd.
  6. Meat,fish & egg: Skin out chicken, egg white, fish like salmon, sardines, trout, mackerel, tuna.
  7. Oil: 2 tsp (10ml)
  8. Sugar: 2 tsp (10gm)
  9. Other beverages: green tea

Hormones and Medication:

  • Birth control: Taking estrogen and progestin daily can restore a normal hormone balance, regulate ovulation, relieve symptoms like excess hair growth, and protect against endometrial cancer. These hormones come in a pill, patch, or vaginal ring.
  • Metformin: Metformin is a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. It also treats PCOS by improving insulin levels.
  • Clomiphene is a fertility drug that can help women with PCOS get pregnant. However, it increases the risk for twins and other multiple births.
  • Hair removal medicines : Eflornithine cream is a prescription drug that slows hair growth. Laser hair removal and electrolysis can get rid of unwanted hair on your face and body.

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Diet Chart for PCOS:

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