Hello Faithful Readers!
I want to apologize for my absence from the blog! I've been working hard to finish my latest book, Eating Expectantly-4th edition, which will be available this holiday season! Thanks for hanging in there with me! From now on, expect to see many more posts from me!
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome--a Possible Road Block to Pregnancy
Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS affects as many as 10% of women. Seventy-five percent of women diagnosed with PCOS are thought to have problems with infertility. PCOS tends to run in families; pay attention if women in your family have problem with PCOS, irregular periods or diabetes.
What Causes It: PCOS is caused by an imbalance of hormones—especially insulin--which leads to an overproduction of male sex hormones (or androgens) which can lead to small benign cysts on the ovaries, irregular, heavy or no periods, acne and excessive hair growth on the face and body (hirutism). While being overweight is often common in women with PCOS, you can be of normal weight and still have it.
Issues about body image and self-esteem as well as problems with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and bipolar disorder are also more common in women with PCOS. If left untreated, PCOS can lead to diabetes and heart disease.
Other Symptoms of PCOS May Include:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) after meals (light-headedness, sweating, sudden fatigue or urge to eat)
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Recurrent spontaneous miscarriages
- Rough or velvety dark skin in skin folds, such as the neck, armpits, thighs (also called Acanthosis Nigrigans or AN.
- Sleep disorders including sleep apnea
Treatment for PCOS includes weight loss, physical activity, a low glycemic index diet and treatment with a medication to improve insulin sensitivity (such as metformin). Because depression and low self esteem can go hand-in-hand with PCOS, spending time with a therapist is often helpful. If you suspect you have PCOS, speak with your physician about it; a registered dietitian familiar with PCOS can individualize a diet that will help with weight loss as well as help normalize insulin levels. According to Angela Grassi MS, RD, author of The PCOS Workbook: Your Guide to Complete Physical & Emotional Health, a healthy eating plan for PCOS often includes:
- A diet comprised of a lower intake of carbohydrates, (but not a “low-carb’ diet),
- higher intake of lean protein and higher intake of monounsaturated fats
- almost all grain should be whole grains
- minimum of 25 grams of fiber per day
- avoidance of sweet beverages including juice, juice drinks and soda
- daily physical activity
- vitamin D supplementation