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5 ways to manage your PCOS symptoms

Five ways to help manage PCOS symptoms, backed by fertility nurse consultant Kate Davies.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that can be well-managed through simple lifestyle and diet changes.  

To help, we’ve put together five ways to help manage PCOS symptoms, backed by expert fertility nurse consultant Kate Davies. 

What is PCOS?  

PCOS is a complex condition with various signs and symptoms, including [1]: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Irregular or absent periods 
  • Acne 
  • Infertility 

Studies estimate that one in every ten women in the UK has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), yet 70% go undiagnosed [2]. There is no cure for PCOS, but that isn’t to say that symptoms can’t be managed.  

5 ways to manage your PCOS symptoms 

1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet 

A healthy, balanced diet is highly recommended for managing PCOS symptoms [3]. Eating a healthy diet can help aid weight loss, give your body all the necessary nutrients it needs, and keep you fit and healthy.   

If you have PCOS, you’re more likely to develop insulin resistance. So, some dietitians may recommend a reduction in refined carbohydrates and sugars. These foods contain high sugar that can affect your insulin and blood sugar levels.  

As well as eating a healthy and balanced diet, try to increase your water intake to between two and three litres a day [4]. Water helps flush out any impurities and keep you well hydrated, which is important for the body to function properly, and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  

2. Exercise regularly

The thought of exercising might be the last thing on your mind when you’re experiencing the fatigue and bloating of PCOS. But it could make a huge difference in helping to beat symptoms. Start small, exercising for 30 minutes, three times a week can make a world of difference. 

Exercise can help reduce physical symptoms of PCOS and is also proven to help improve mental symptoms. Exercise has an anti-depressive effect, and it can be very beneficial for people suffering from the mental symptoms of PCOS, such as anxiety or depression [5]. 

If the gym isn’t for you, you can read more ways to exercise in our blog: how to move more without going to the gym

3. Reduce stress

Stress isn’t always easy to identify, especially in yourself. High stress levels over a long time can negatively impact your mind and body and heighten any symptoms that you may already be experiencing.   

Yoga, meditation, and self-care are all good ways to try and reduce stress. A great way of making time for yourself could be introducing a skincare routine, which can also help to combat acne breakout, a common symptom of PCOS.  

Check out our blog on 10 top ways to de-stress for more tips. 

4. Increase your quality of sleep 

Not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of developing higher stress levels, weakening the immune system, and low mood [6].   

Lack of sleep can increase your risk of insulin resistance and weight gain due to the production of cortisol, the hormone responsible for the fight or flight response, which releases more sugar into the bloodstream. It is recommended to have eight hours of uninterrupted sleep to help tackle symptoms.  

To help increase your quality of sleep, and help control symptoms, you can:  

  • Devise a healthy sleep routine 
  • Reduce blue light exposure two hours before bedtime 
  • Follow a relaxing bedtime ritual; allow time to relax and ease your mind into sleep 

Check out our ways to improve your sleep blog for more tips on getting a good night’s sleep.  

 5. Consider supplements 

Supplements can help to treat PCOS. The most popular is inositol, which is naturally made by the body and used in a variety of biochemical processes.  

People with PCOS are found to excrete inositol quicker than people without and are more likely to be deficient. This deficiency is thought to cause some of the PCOS symptoms [7]. 

Taking inositol has many benefits, including: 

  • Helping to reduce insulin resistance, testosterone levels, and unwanted hair growth 
  • Increasing the quality of eggs and quality of sleep 
  • Potentially being able to aid fertility 

A recent study found that inositol helped to start and maintain ovulation cycles in 70% of cases. And approximately 40% of women became pregnant after treatment with inositol [8]. 

Other people with PCOS have found that taking vitamin D helped reduce their symptoms. This may be due to it lowering their cholesterol and improving insulin resistance [9].  

Always make sure to consult your doctor before taking supplements or making any major changes to your diet.  

How can blood testing help me with PCOS?  

Using a blood test can help you along your PCOS journey. At Medichecks, we offer a range of tests that can help, including both our Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Blood Test and Advanced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Blood Test – both of which can help investigate any PCOS symptoms.  

We also offer a Female Hormone Blood Test which measures the levels of female hormones and thyroid hormones that regulate fertility, mood, and energy. 


References  

  1. Scirp.org. 2022. March, W.A., Moore, V.M., Willson, K.J., Phillips, D.I., Norman, R.J. and Davies, M.J. (2010) The Prevalence of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in a Community Sample Assessed under Contrasting Diagnostic Criteria. Human Reproduction, 25, 544-551. - References - Scientific Research Publishing. [online] Available at: <https://scirp.org/reference/referencespapers.aspx?referenceid=2370623> [Accessed 22 June 2022]. 
  2. nhs.uk. 2022. Polycystic ovary syndrome. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/> [Accessed 22 June 2022]. 
  3. Monash.edu. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/1412644/PCOS_Evidence-Based-Guidelines_20181009.pdf> [Accessed 22 June 2022]. 
  4. Popkin, B., D'Anci, K. and Rosenberg, I., 2010. Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews, 68(8), pp.439-458. 
  5. Hopkinsmedicine.org. 2022. The Truth Behind ‘Runner’s High’ and Other Mental Benefits of Running. [online] Available at: <https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-truth-behind-runners-high-and-other-mental-benefits-of-running> [Accessed 22 June 2022]. 
  6. Medic, G., Wille, M. and Hemels, M., 2017. Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and Science of Sleep, Volume 9, pp.151-161. 
  7. Unfer, V., Nestler, J., Kamenov, Z., Prapas, N. and Facchinetti, F., 2016. Effects of Inositol(s) in Women with PCOS: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2016, pp.1-12. 
  8. Artini, P., Di Berardino, O., Papini, F., Genazzani, A., Simi, G., Ruggiero, M. and Cela, V., 2013. Endocrine and clinical effects of myo-inositol administration in polycystic ovary syndrome. A randomized study. Gynecological Endocrinology, 29(4), pp.375-379. 
  9. Miao, C., Fang, X., Chen, Y. and Zhang, Q., 2020. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on polycystic ovary syndrome: A metaanalysis. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine,.