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Nutrition for PCOS

Nutrition for PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects many women around the world. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects an estimated 8–13% of reproductive-aged women. Up to 70% of affected women remain undiagnosed worldwide. The exact cause remains a mystery, but its connection to insulin resistance, weight management, and hormonal imbalances is undeniable. Nutrition plays a critical role in both managing and possibly alleviating some PCOS symptoms.

What is PCOS?

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS might have prolonged or irregular menstrual periods or excessive male hormone levels. The ovaries may also develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to release eggs regularly.

Common Signs and Symptoms of PCOS

  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Excess hair growth
  • Acne, oiliness, or dandruff
  • Weight gain or trouble losing weight

However, not every woman will experience all these signs. Some might wonder, "Can I still have PCOS with regular periods?" The answer is yes, as the symptoms can vary widely from person to person.

Diagnosing PCOS

PCOS diagnosis typically involves:

  • PCOS Blood Test: This checks your sugar levels, which can indicate insulin resistance, a common issue with PCOS.
  • PCOS Ultrasound: This checks the presence of follicles in the ovaries.
  • Review of Medical History: Discussing menstrual cycles, weight changes, and other symptoms.

Nutrition's Role in PCOS Management

Diet plays an integral role in managing PCOS. Here's how:

  • Weight Management: A reduction in our weight, even by a small percentage of body weight/fat can help alleviate symptoms. A two pronged approach to weight loss will yield best results, a healthier diet combined with increased exercise. A low GI (Glycemic Index) foods list for PCOS can be a good starting point. If you are unsure where to begin, speak to a nutritional advisor or a personal trainer/fitness expert to start slowly.
  • Insulin Resistance Management: In most PCOS cases, there can be a degree of insulin resistance. Some foods and supplements can help to manage insulin levels. The aforementioned GI food list can be supportive in this instance too. Why? The glycemic index is a number from 0 to 100 assigned to each food, with pure glucose arbitrarily given the value of 100. Foods lower in sugar and less likely to contribute to higher insulin levels are closer to 0. This means we can make smarter food choices based on this index, reducing our body’s resistance to insulin. There are also supplements like Alpha Lipoic Acid, Chromium and Inositol that have shown to be effective in supporting the normalisation of insulin levels. Additionally, there are supportive medications as well. 
  • Hormonal Balance: People with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance that disrupts their menstrual cycle, ovulation and possibly, conception. These hormones are like an intricate web and the function of your reproductive system relies heavily on its balance. The hormones that play a role in PCOS are:
    • Androgens (like testosterone and androstenedione).
    • Luteinizing hormone (LH).
    • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
    • Estrogen.
    • Progesterone.
    • Insulin.
Certain nutrients within our foods have shown to stabilise these hormones, reverting them back to normal levels. This restoration or homeostasis in the reproductive hormonal system can help the system to function normally again. Omega-3, Vitamin E, Magnesium, B vitamins including folic acid, have all shown to be supportive in addressing PCOS. 

    FAQs about PCOS

    • Can PCOS Cause Miscarriage? Yes, women with PCOS might have a higher risk of miscarriage, but many women with PCOS also have healthy pregnancies. PCOS and pregnancy need careful management.
    • How to Get Pregnant with PCOS and Irregular Periods? With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, it's possible. The general advice is to consider all available options and develop an integrated plan to support your specific case. 
    • Is PCOS Serious? It can be. Aside from reproductive issues, long-term untreated PCOS can lead to serious health issues, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


    Understanding PCOS meaning and its implications is essential for proper management. Through the right nutrition and treatment, living with PCOS becomes more manageable. Always consult with a healthcare professional about PCOS treatment options and any dietary changes.


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