Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Can It Affect Your Fertility and How to Treat It?
Photo © Hadis Safari
Did you know Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the number one cause of infertility in women? It affects 1 in 10 women who are of childbearing age. PCOS is a common health syndrome that is caused by a reproductive hormonal imbalance. This hormonal imbalance is due to a woman’s ovaries or adrenal glands producing more male hormones than they are supposed to.
PCOS directly affects the ovaries by preventing them from developing eggs properly or inhibiting the eggs to release during ovulation. It can lead to missed or irregular periods, which can cause infertility and fluid-filled sacs called cysts to develop on the ovaries.
As of right now, there is no cure for PCOS. However, with the proper exercise and nutrition, you can ease the pain and symptoms from PCOS. Keep in mind that if you have PCOS, you can still get pregnant; however, you may have to try different methods in doing so.
How to Spot PCOS
PCOS usually develops anytime after puberty begins with symptoms showing immediately or going unnoticed until later teenage years. Because PCOS symptoms are often related to other causes, it may go undiagnosed for years. Most women find out they have PCOS during their 20s and 30s when they see a doctor about having problems becoming pregnant.
While there is no test to diagnose PCOS, a diagnosis might start out with a conversation with your doctor about an irregular menstrual period and weight gain. After that, a doctor might recommend blood tests, pelvic exams and ultrasounds.
According to the PCOS Awareness Association, PCOS symptoms include:
- Weight Gain - About half the women with PCOS will have weight gain causing obesity that is difficult to manage.
- Fatigue - Many women with PCOS report increased fatigue and low energy. Related issues such as poor sleep may contribute to the feeling of fatigue.
- Unwanted Hair Growth (also known as hirsutism) - Areas affected by excess hair growth may include the face, arms, back, chest, thumbs, toes and abdomen.
- Thinning Hair on the Head - Hair loss related to PCOS may increase in middle age.
- Infertility - Not every woman with PCOS is the same. Some women may need the assistance of fertility treatments, and others can conceive naturally.
- Acne - Hormonal changes related to androgens can lead to acne problems. Other skin changes such as the development of skin tags and darkened patches of skin are also related to PCOS.
- Mood Changes - Having PCOS can increase the likelihood of mood swings, depression and anxiety.
- Pelvic Pain - Pelvic pain may occur with periods, along with heavy bleeding. It may also occur when a woman isn’t bleeding.
Other related symptoms are headaches and sleep problems, due to hormonal changes related to PCOS.
The Best Diet for PCOS
A PCOS diagnosis does not mean that you have lost control over your body. Implementing the proper diet can go a long way with your road to recovery. Additionally, it is something that you can focus on every single day to ensure a steady recovery and gain back control of your body.
While there is no perfect diet for PCOS, it is important to incorporate an anti-inflammatory diet built on whole foods. When you hear the term diet, it does not mean that you must eat salads for breakfast lunch and dinner. Eliminate the idea of calorie cutting, and replace it with the idea of nourishing your body. You want to take care of your body, and by feeding it whole and healthy foods, you are allowing your body to function, balance and heal properly.
While eating to heal PCOS, picture your plate as a pie chart. You want to save half of your plate for leafy greens and non-starchy vegetables- think spinach, kale, cauliflower, carrots, eggplants, squash, turnips and tomatoes. Next, use one-quarter of your plate for starchy vegetables or gluten-free grains- think sweet potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, quinoa, oats and brown rice. Use the last quarter of your plate for lean proteins. Consider chicken breast, ground turkey and white fish. Finally, top your dish with healthy fats such as avocado, extra-virgin olive oil and nuts.
Viola! You have yourself an evenly balanced, colourful, PCOS healing meal.
Recipes to Treat PCOS
Eating healthy foods does not have to be bland and boring. In fact, the more you play with recipes, flavours and colourful ingredients, the more fun it is to eat clean. Get creative with cooking or trying one of these delicious recipes that are PCOS friendly.
Low Carb Zucchini Lasagna - This healthy alternative to the classic Italian lasagna dish from My PCOS Kitchen is sure to light up your taste buds. Once you taste the homemade meat sauce layered with cheese and zucchini noodles, your brain will completely forget that you are eating healthy.
Veggie Noodle Shrimp Pad Thai - Are you pad Thai fan? If so, this recipe from PCOS Nutrition is going to be right up your alley. Transform your favourite takeout dish into a nourishing and PCOS friendly dinner. Plus, the ginger in this entree fights off additional inflammation.
Mango Black Bean Salad In A Jar - Who doesn’t love salads in a jar? They are easy to make, you can take them to work and let’s be real, everything tastes better in a mason jar. This mango black bean salad recipe from PCOS Diva can even be meal prepped to make your week go by smoother.
Quinoa Fritters with Healthy Garlic Aioli - Becomingness has created this tasty treat that is sure to impress your taste buds. Make these with quinoa fritters with your leftover quinoa or meal prep them at the beginning of the week to use as healthy snacks.
Mediterranean Tuna Salad - This isn’t your typical tuna salad that mom used to make when you were little. Skinny Ms created a Mediterranean tuna salad recipe that will make tuna shame all of your other tuna recipes. Throw some of this over a bed of leafy greens, and you have yourself a balanced and tasty meal geared toward healing PCOS.