Polycystic Ovary Syndrome affects one in 10 women, and can be extremely difficult to deal with. Excessive hair growth, irregular periods, and difficulty getting pregnant are all symptoms of PCOS, and unfortunately more than 50% of women with the condition will go undiagnosed.
There are medications you can take to lessen the effects of PCOS, but some people prefer to keep things natural. Of course, it's always best to do what your doctor advises, but these are some ways you can reduce your symptoms of PCOS without medication.
1. Lose Weight
It sucks, I know. But losing weight is one of the best ways to control your PCOS. Making sure your BMI is in a healthy range can help regulate your menstrual cycle and increase your chances of conceiving.
The other benefit of losing weight is that your blood glucose levels may drop and insulin sensitivity improve, which in turn leads to your hormones to restore themselves back to normal, or near normal. Women who have PCOS have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, and losing weight can help reduce this risk.
2. Green Tea
There are a couple of ways you can consume green tea, either in capsule or as a beverage, but no matter how you consume it, it's probably going to help. The natural properties of the tea can result in a drop of fasting insulin levels as well as levels of free testosterone.
If you're going to consume green tea in capsule form, taking 500 mg twice a day for at least 12 weeks is what you should aim for. If you're going to drink the tea, aim for at least two cups per day, but no more than four.
3. Cutting Carbs
Carbohydrates can cause your hormone levels to become imbalanced, because your insulin sensitivity increases. By cutting out processed, carb-heavy foods, you can see a drop in your metabolic profile in as little as 16 days. The reduction of carbs lowers your fasting insulin levels.
A low-carb, high-fat, high-protein diet is what you should be aiming for. Good fats like avocados, nuts, and coconut oil can actually help reduce inflammation.
4. More Iron
People who suffer from PCOS will experience heavier bleeding when on their periods. Because of this, fatigue levels will be at a high. Increasing your iron intake, either through red meat or tablets, is a good idea to make sure you don't become iron deficient.
Before you increase your iron intake, you should consult with your doctor. An influx of iron can cause some issues, including skin discoloration.
5. Cut Coffee
Hopefully you enjoy that green tea we talked about earlier, because if you have PCOS, you're going to want to limit your intake of coffee. In fact, it's better to eliminate it all together. Coffee can increase your estrogen level, as well as your overall hormone behavior.
The reality is, it's the caffeine that causes these imbalances in hormones, but something like green tea has more benefits to it, and has a lower caffeine level than coffee does.
6. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
By eating anti-inflammatory foods, you can help reduce your weight, as well as control your blood pressure, cholesterol problems, and hormone levels.
Some foods that contain anti-inflammatory properties include:
- Olive Oil
- Leafy Greens
- Fatty Fish
- Sweet Potatoes
- Pomegranate Juice
In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise can help balance your hormone levels. It's important to discuss with your doctor what kind of exercise is best for you, as over-exerting yourself can actually send your hormones out of whack.
Low-impact exercise like yoga, pilates, aerobics, and swimming can become a part of your regular routine without too much fear of over-exerting yourself.
Long-distance running and high-intensity interval training can also be great for helping to relieve your symptoms of PCOS, but it's best to limit the frequency of this type of exercise.
Cumin seeds have a lot of benefits for those with PCOS. First off, they contain antioxidants which naturally help your body fight stress. They are also antidiabetic, meaning they help lower your blood sugar levels and potentially your cholesterol as well. Cumin seeds also contain phytoestrogens, which act like estrogen. Since those with PCOS tend to have lower than normal estrogen levels, the phytoestrogens can help regulate your hormone levels.
You can roast cumin seeds and turn them into a powder, then using them as part of your daily cooking routine. You can also soak the seeds overnight, ground them down, then mix them with some honey for breakfast. Your other option is to boil a spoonful of the seeds in water and drink it (once it's cooled down, of course.)
9. More Magnesium
Foods like almonds, cashews, spinach, and bananas are high in magnesium, which has been shown to help reduce inflammation, promote better sleep, and alleviate anxiety. Depression and anxiety prove to be a higher risk for women with PCOS, so the added magnesium can help ward them off.
Magnesium may also reduce blood pressure and insulin.
Like cumin, flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens, specifically lignan, which helps to reduce the levels of male hormones in your body. They also contain a lot of fiber and healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower your cholesterol and provide anti-inflammatory effects.
You should only consume small amounts of flaxseed on a daily basis, and should consult with your doctor before adding a large amount to your diet.
11. Stress Relief
Easier said than done, I know, but stress relief is a big part of relieving PCOS symptoms. By reducing your stress, you are regulating your body's production of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone which is released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration.
Reducing your stress will also help relieve symptoms of anxiety brought on by PCOS. Setting aside time to meditate, or just relax, can help improve your overall mental well-being. You could also try taking a nice walk outdoors by yourself, which will let you clear your mind.
12. More Fiber
Adding fiber to your diet helps with digestion, blood sugar levels, and lowering your cholesterol. You can take fiber supplements like Metamucil, or you can add goods that are high in fiber to your diet.
Foods that are high in fiber include:
- Kidney Beans
- Sunflower Seeds
While living with PCOS can be a challenge, there are ways to reduce the symptoms which will let you live a normal life.