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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

By EmpowHER February 18, 2008 - 8:40am
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Are you dealing with PCOS? Post your questions and get answers here.

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Hi there, It's great you're trying to take your health into your own hands.

PCOS occurs because of certain hormone imbalances. The imbalance can cause many small cysts in the ovaries, which can affect a woman's ability to get pregnant.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder of premenopausal women, affecting 7% of women of all races and nationalities.

And you're right on track with wanting to control your weight. The Mayo Clinic says that long term, the most important aspect of treatment is managing cardiovascular risks, such as obesity, high blood cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure.

To help guide ongoing treatment decisions, your doctor will probably want to schedule you for regular visits to perform a physical, check your blood pressure and obtain fasting glucose and lipid levels.

With regard to your diet, here are a couple of considerations for women with PCOS from the Mayo Clinic.

Low-fat, high-carb diets may increase insulin levels, so some health and nutrition advocates say that women with polycystic ovary syndrome should follow a low-carbohydrate diet.

However, a diet that calls for increased protein to compensate for decreased carbohydrates may spike your intake of saturated fats, elevating your blood cholesterol levels and increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Research hasn't demonstrated that a diet high in protein offers more benefit to women with PCOS than does a diet high in carbohydrates. So it’s best to talk this over with your doctor.

Another consideration is that carbs provide many important nutrients, so don't severely restrict them. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates, which are high in fiber. The more fiber in a food, the more slowly it's digested and the more slowly your blood sugar levels rise.

High-fiber carbohydrates include:
Whole-grain breads and cereals and
Whole-wheat pasta, bulgur, barley, brown rice and beans.

Limit less healthy, simple carbohydrates such as soda, excess fruit juice, cake, candy, ice cream, pies, cookies and doughnuts.

Additional research may determine which specific dietary approach is best, but it's clear that losing weight by reducing total calorie intake benefits the overall health of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Work with your doctor and registered dietitian to determine the best dietary plan for you.

Get your exercise
Exercise helps lower your blood sugar levels. For women with polycystic ovary syndrome, an increase in daily physical activity and participation in a regular exercise regimen are essential for treating or preventing insulin resistance and for helping weight-control efforts.

(Source: Mayo Clinic)

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August 19, 2008 - 8:28am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi. I'm 15 years old and was diagnosed with PCOS last year. It was and still is a shock. And now... I have to take birth control to regulate my cycle. It was kind of hard at first because that is another health problem that I have to deal with. I know that weight and how you eat can affect this. Does anyone have any tips on what I can do to lose weight, control my PCOS. Even though my doctor says I shouldn't worry about it affecting me later on in life, you know if I choose to start a family but I don't want to just lean on that, becuase anything could happen. Especially with my luck!!! Anyone who helps, I really appreciate it. Thank you

August 18, 2008 - 7:49pm

I was misdiagnosed with PCOS, and later found out I have a fairly rare adrenal issue which has a different treatment path. I still remain an active member of my PCOS support group, though. The symptoms are close enough that we can relate.
Apparently 10% of PCOS diagnoses are actually attributable to the genetic condition non-classical Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. I advocate that all women with PCOS should see an endocrinologist experienced with the syndrome. Between Diabetes risk, Insulin Resistance and the possibility it might be thyroid (I also have a small goiter) or adrenal in nature, it is necessary. I was sent to more than one GYN and to a dermatologist until convince my PCP I should see an Endo. Best advocacy I ever did.

March 16, 2008 - 9:22pm

Dear dragonfly,

I hope others share their story, as PCOS is very common. Did you know that 5-10% of women of reproductive age are affected by PCOS, making it the most common hormonal disorder among women in this age group.

There is a great website that talks about the treatment options: www.4woman.gov/faq/pcos.htm

A national non-profit organization, created by women, for women with PCOS: www.pcosupport.org

February 19, 2008 - 3:44pm

Just been diagnosed with an ovarian cyst and am schedules for a laperscopy. While it's outpatient procedure, I'm still a little nervous. Has anyone hd this sugery? Does anyone know what I can expect? Will this hurt my chances for fertility?

February 18, 2008 - 9:06am
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