A diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is disturbing and scary, especially to someone trying to get pregnant.
PCOS is a severe hormonal balance and it can lead to a variety of conditions, one of which is infertility. PCOS disturbs the hormones enough to stop the ovary from releasing mature eggs.
Some eggs are not viable and form cysts in the ovaries while others are released but are too damaged to be fertilized.
This condition can be treated, both with drugs and through natural means – a diagnosis does not mean a woman cannot get pregnant.
PCOS Symptoms and Causes
PCOS has its onset anywhere from teens to late 30s, and is the most common reason for a women’s infertility. It presents in a number of symptoms that may appear all at once or intermittently over several years.
Some of the signs and conditions that come with PCOS are:
- Irregular or skipped periods
- Ovarian cysts
- High insulin or diabetes
- Over-abundance of male hormones
- Irregular or skipped ovulation
- Hair growth in typically male body locales
- Weight gain
- Anxiety or depression
Why do some women get PCOS? Currently the reason is unknown, however there are a lot of common traits. These include:
Obesity – Fat cells store estrogen, contributing to a hormonal imbalance in your body
Insulin resistance – High levels of sugar in the blood signals the ovaries to over-produce androgens, or male hormones such as testosterone, unbalancing your hormones further
Liver Problems – A stressed liver doesn’t metabolize insulin properly. Note that this goes hand in hand – the worse the insulin resistance, the worse your liver and reproductive system becomes.
Diagnosis and Conventional Treatment
The problem with diagnosing PCOS is the multitude of seemingly unrelated conditions, and its slow progression over the yeas. Doctors traditionally focus on only one symptom, and they thus miss the overall picture.
Worse, they believe PCOS to cause insulin resistance, when it’s actually the other way around!
The first step is usually treating the symptoms, such as prescribing birth control pills as a tool for hormonal balance (birth control helps regulate periods, for instance). Insulin medication may also be used to treat your blood sugar levels.
However, medication doesn’t treat the underlying symptoms, it only covers it up. A multi-symptom problem needs a whole solution.
Fortunately over the last few years, many doctors are opening their eyes to more holistic approaches – it is now becoming standard to first use nutrition to combat PCOS, rather than expensive medication.
Yes, the most effective treatment is diet and exercise to lose weight. One study showed that 11 out of 12 women with PCOS and who had lost weight and changed their diet got pregnant naturally.
Loosing Weight Through Proper Nutrition
“Lose weight” you say. “But having PCOS makes me gain more weight!” And you are definitely right. Exercise and a low fat diet is often ineffective, so what do you do?
The problem could be the “low fat” part. If you have insulin resistance (which causes weight gain), you actually need to cut out your sugar, not your fat.
Look for a good nutritionist who can come up with a meal plan tailored to your needs to combat not only PCOS, but your hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance. The following is a general guideline.
Limit these sources of food:
- all bread, pasta, rice and potatoes – these are all carbohydrates, which convert to sugar in the body
- anything with yeast (ie bread)
- milk products
- margarine and canola oils
- soft drinks and artificial sweeteners
Replace with the following:
- lean protein sources – fish, chicken and turkey. Eat these first, as it will limit your cravings for carbohydrates
- oats, beans, legumes.
- fresh or frozen vegetables. Avoid canned, as these have added salt and sugar
- whole grains, brown rice
- nuts, seeds, olive oil, virgin coconut oil
- salads with olive oil
- lots of water
- a daily multivitamin
- slowly introduce more fiber (not too much right away)
- After the first week, reintroduce fruit
If you do this properly, your cravings for sweets should gradually subside in about a month. Your body is actually addicted to sugar and becomes too lazy to process it. If this become permanent, you will get diabetes.
By replacing your cravings with the feeling of fullness from whole grains and protein, you have a much better chance of succeeding and forcing your body to convert sugars effectively again.
Progressing Toward a Better Lifestyle
If your exercise regime is walking from your door to your car, don’t suddenly get a gym membership. Instead, begin walking for a half hour every day.
When shopping, park far away and walk. Instead of taking the elevator, take the stairs. Gradually increase your regime.
Do not try a crash course diet – not only does this not work, it will shock your body. Look to only lose half a pound to one pound per week. Actually, don’t think in weeks, but in months – about four pounds a month.
Once you lose 5 to 10% of your body fat, your PCOS symptoms should start to subside. A healthy body weight means lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Less body fat will mean normal insulin levels, which will help balance your hormone levels.
The Soulcysters message board offers a great support group for PCOS suffers. Check out their section on diet and exercise tips.
The guide we used to get pregnant, Pregnancy Miracle also has a large section on PCOS. Along with a holistic diet and exercise, the author discusses herbal remedies and acupuncture as methods to include in your treatment.
- Click here to read our review on this guide.
Time To Get Pregnant!
With a dedicated treatment plan of diet and exercise, you can more likely get pregnant safely and naturally. Your hormone and insulin levels will normalize, allowing for an increase in healthy ovaries and greater fertility.
Getting pregnant with PCOS is completely possible with the right amount of dedication and effort. To get started right away, check out the guide we use: