PCOS may be one of the most challenging female health issues of current times, perhaps the most common and widespread endocrinal complications in women of child-bearing age. It is characterized by an imbalance in the hormones. When it comes to the diet, the food factor becomes an important topic because whether it is keeping the hormones under control or its lack thereof, it all depends on the food we eat.
Fertility & PCOS:
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Increased levels of the androgens and circulating insulin levels tend to have an effect on the menstrual cycle preventing ovulation. This can make it challenging for women with PCOS to conceive naturally or offer risks related to fertility.
Health and Fertility Risks Associated with PCOS
- Menstrual cycle irregularities
- Possible increased risk for endometrial and breast cancer due to unopposed estrogen
- Cardiovascular disease
- Gestational diabetes
Few of the women with PCOS may experience reduced fertility and may require longer time or some kind of medical assistance to achieve conception. However, this can still be take control of with proper management
Here are the methods that you can try to manage fertility in PCOS with:
- Weight management: This is one of the most important aspects of PCOS that needs to be taken into consideration. If you are above the healthy weight range, starting off with gradual but healthy weight reductions can assist in fertility. Even a 5-10% loss of weight has been shown to help women with PCOS. As per the current international recommendations, one must achieve a healthy or modest weight loss before pregnancy. This goes a long way in reducing any complications during gestation.
- Eating a PCOS fertility diet: Following a diet that is PCOS friendly will go a long way to help you overcome symptoms and may give you a broader chance at conception too. One of the biggest problems with PCOS is insulin resistance. This can result in a negative effect on the ovulation by impacting the natural maturation process of the egg and thus delay or prevent the ovulation from taking place at all. High levels of circulating insulin due to resistance by the body can also at times prevent the embryo from attaching to the uterine wall. This has a direct effect on the fertility and also puts you at a risk of type 2 diabetes. To overcome this, you can start by following a diet that is build along the guidelines for PCOS:
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- Balanced meals: It is important to improve the protein quantity and quality and balance its proportion with carbs to eliminate the ups and downs of insulin effect. This will keep your body’s sugar from shooting up and prevent the excess insulin release as well, thus keeping it at a balance. When you do eat carbohydrates, it is important to pay attention to the kind of carbs that you are eating. Choose whole-grain, fiber based products over processed and white variety of carbs.
- Stop starving yourself in the name of dieting: in order to lose weight, many tend to skip meals. However, this not only fails to work in your favour but also adds on the complication and delayed weight loss by throwing your metabolism out of whack. The term diet means to nourish and not starve, therefore you should focus on putting healthy food into your body rather that depriving it. The key is to eat nutrient dense, portion controlled meals that are high in fiber, moisture and protein contents.
- Don’t turn down the fat: Eating essential fatty acids is actually healthy and helps you lose weight, contrary to what the common myth surrounding fat is. Eating healthy fats like omega 3 and omega 6 will actually help in maintaining the hormonal balance, provide an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory environment and serve as a steady foundation to a healthy environment for conception to take place. Go for fatty fishes, olives and olive oils, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, eggs and the like for EFAs.
- Exercise: While you will be focusing on the diet part, don’t forget to pay attention to the physical activity part as well. Exercise helps PCOS by improving insulin sensitivity, increasing metabolism and helping to shed any excess weight. Both aerobic and resistance exercises are good. Researchers found that participants of resistance exercises showed better improvement in insulin sensitivity than with aerobic exercise alone.
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