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Have you been battling weight issues for a while? Are you sick of the untoward hair growth on your face? Is your skin breaking out insanely? Or is it that you haven’t seen that ‘red spot’ for months?

Calm down the winds of your mind!

These are some of the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. And the good news is you can control them only if you choose to ‘acknowledge’. We have generally accustomed ourselves to label these things as ‘normal’. The reality is we are often told to either turn a blind eye or keep hush-hush about such health issues. 

WHY?

 Is it just because women aren’t expected to be that way? Or is it that some orthodox mindsets believe that women are incomplete if they can’t reproduce? 

If you’re tucked in distress facing self -esteem issues or the unnatural anguish that PCOS puts you through, then let me tell you, you are not alone. 

Let’s try to normalize it and understand the root cause.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome-a threat to women's health

The term “polycystic” refers to “many cysts”. However, this is misleading to some extent. It wouldn’t be right to comprehend that there’s an issue with ovaries only. Rather it's a hormonal disorder, which impacts the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. It affects 6% to 12% women which means as many as 5 million women in the US between the ages of 15-44 are diagnosed with this syndrome.
Well, this is a quick fact- check which depicts how normal it is to miss a period. It causes enlargement of ovaries with mushrooming of small bubbles like cysts on the outer edges.1 in 10 women of childbearing age are facing this common health condition which is not considered as common as it seems in reality.

 It is generally characterised by the unusual secretion of male hormones which causes them to skip periods and totally disrupt the menstrual cycle. It is the cause of 30% infertility in couples. Unpredictable menstrual cycles can also make it even more difficult to get pregnant. And to make things worse, there is a risk of endometrial cancer. Let’s walk through the various types of PCOS and figure out which category do you fall in-

A– Polycystic Ovaries + Abnormal Periods + High testosterone

B-Abnormal Periods + High testosterone

C– Polycystic ovaries +High Testosterone

D– Polycystic ovaries+Abnormal periods

Large quantities of female hormones are secreted along with the little amount of male hormone Testosterone. 

Yes, you read it right!

 Male hormones are found in female bodies as well although in small quantities. A woman is said to be diagnosed with PCOS when Testosterone produced is slightly more. Although the exact causes of PCOS are still not known, doctors believe that high levels of male hormones play a vital role. 

Any particular factor can’t be held responsible for causing this threat of PCOS to women. The potential causes can be-

  • Genes– Studies depict that PCOS runs in families. According to researchers, 24% of women with polycystic ovary syndrome had a mother diagnosed with the same problem and 32% of women had a sister with this condition. However, not just one but many genes contribute to the condition.
  • Insulin resistance– Pancreas in our body is responsible for producing the hormone called-insulin. It helps the body in utilising the sugar procured from foods for energy purposes. This refers to a condition when our cells can’t use insulin properly, thus activating the pancreas to secrete more insulin in order to cover the loopholes. It further leads to a condition where ovaries produce high levels of androgens (male hormones). 70% of women with PCOS face the problem of insulin resistance.

Obesity-Some studies report that in the United States, the prevalence of obesity in women with PCOS is as high as 80%. It can be further responsible for insulin resistance to some extent. Moreover, if you are obese, congratulations you have triggered the panic button! In this condition, the body uses that fat to convert female hormones into more Testosterone. No wonder it is considered a “weighty issue”.

PCOS-a curse

PCOS is undoubtedly a mystery syndrome.
The reason?
The diagnosis of PCOS still remains exclusion. It is not curable. Despite being the most common reproductive disorder, 70% of women are left undiagnosed because we invalidate our pain and label these things as ‘normal’. In most cases, this syndrome is unmasked when women have trouble conceiving.
Unsurprisingly PCOS is a curse for women’s health.

And if you live in a mainstream household where no one is hit by this syndrome so far then having PCOS is a ‘real struggle’. The idea of overlooking cramps is run of the mill and if one cannot endure it then such women are considered overly dramatic. Let’s explore the wide range of symptoms-

Irregular periods

Due to PCOS your menstrual cycle completely goes out of order. A period cycle is considered as improper if they occur less than 21 days or you have 8 or fewer cycles per year. Some women may also experience either lighter or heavier periods. However, some women with PCOS may also have regular periods.

Hirsutism

Hirsutism is a condition when there is excessive growth of hair primarily on the face, belly, back or chest. It's a condition of growth of coarse hair due to high levels of androgen. Around 70% of women battle with this condition. Overgrowth of body hair is common among western women with PCOS, while it can be found in 10-20% of Asian women.

Acne-

This is one of the most notable symptoms of PCOS, affecting 10-34% of women. Hormonal imbalance prompts the production of oil in the skin thereby causing breakouts. Substantially it can be seen on the face, upper back, and chest.

Dark patches-

Higher levels of insulin can cause darkening of skin under the arms, in the genitals or on the back of the neck. Off-balance hormone levels can wreak havoc on the skin and make you quite self- conscious.Higher levels of insulin can cause darkening of skin under the arms, in the genitals or on the back of the neck. Off-balance hormone levels can wreak havoc on the skin and make you quite self- conscious.

Sleeplessness-

Although an adequate amount of sleep is required. The ugly truth is women often suffer from sleep disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia. This can make them more lethargic and gloomy.
Tragically symptoms don't end here.

Havoc to Harmony

The only exposure we had about periods while growing up were the women in advertisements wandering and claiming to “stay free”. And we believed them until puberty hit us real hard. Combating these symptoms can be quite annoying. It feels like your body isn’t yours anymore.

 As a result, many with PCOS end up battling with depression and anxiety issues. You start questioning yourself and that’s where self- esteem issues pop up. Most of the adolescent girls go through self -image problems and never-ending insecurities.

 If these symptoms are left undiagnosed then it can lead to an emotional disorder which is yet another symptom of PCOS. Only one symptom can be found in some women while others may have all of them.

 So what’s the way out?

Curing the incurable

Exercise is considered the most constructive approach to managing PCOS and reducing the extremity of symptoms. Although there is no permanent treatment available. Women with PCOS who are obese can experience significant improvements in symptoms if they shed some extra pounds. Weight loss of merely 5% can lead to a significant improvement in PCOS.

Sounds better. Right? 

It’s of utmost importance to make physical activity a priority in your life. So whether you like to take a walk or prefer to work out alone or even if you choose to use stairs instead of lifts, all these little things matter and make a big impact on your overall progress. We rounded up some of the best exercises to alleviate the symptoms of PCOS-

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Cardio-striking the balance

Cardio is bifurcated into high-intensity interval training and steady-state moderate-intensity workout. In HIIT you can switch from sprinting up a hill to walking on a road. Steady-state cardio refers to a sustained repetitive movement at a steady pace like jogging.
However, HIIT workouts are fruitful due to the physiological impact it has on insulin sensitivity.
According to the study published in the International Journal of Obesity, those who did HIIT exercises lost on an average 11.2% of their fat mass while no significant change was seen in the steady-state group. That doesn’t mean that you should overlook the benefits of steady-state cardio. It helps in recovering from highly intense workout sessions.
For women dealing with PCOS, it is suggested to reap the benefits of both types of cardio and strike the right balance between them, like planning 30 minutes HIIT workouts sessions each week. Brisk walking also helps in elevating the mood and reducing insulin resistance. So what are you waiting for? Lace-up your shoes and hit the road!

Strength Training

“More muscle, less fat”- strength exercise or resistance training helps in stimulating your metabolism, which burns more calories, and thus fat is lost. It helps in building lean muscle mass which is important for weight loss. All you need to do is pick up a dumbbell and start doing squats. Don’t worry if you don’t have any equipment, you can still do push-ups against a wall and reap the rewards.

Core strengthening moves-

The core consists of muscles in your back and around the pelvis. We use our core every day while pushing a cart or putting on shoes. In order to strengthen your core, you can do butt bridges, crunches, or planks. These all are highly effective. It enhances overall fitness and improves pelvic stability for pregnancy. Master these moves and then take it up a notch.

Water workouts-are you ready to jump in?

Water is one of the best fitness tools and working out becomes more fun when you’re splashing around in a pool. Aquatic exercises are great fat burners and are refreshing too. Time to level up! Pool planks are way more challenging, the water pushing and pulling makes it difficult and thus boosts your endurance. Do you want to take jogging to a new level? That could be done with the help of chaos cardio. Once you manage to create several currents in the pool then you’ve to run through them. This helps in strengthening core muscles. So are you ready to jump in?

Thriving with PCOS

Battling PCOS can sometimes feel like throwing darts while blindfolded. A healthy lifestyle is a more effective way to manage PCOS like having a nutritious diet and maintaining an ideal weight. A balanced diet is recommended for PCOS. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines, it includes various veggies, fruits, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. Exercise proves to be even more beneficial when combined with a healthy diet. Low carbohydrate diets are effective for weight loss as well as lowering insulin levels.
There’s no one-size-fits-all way to treat PCOS so you need to mix and match and figure out what suits you the best. A perfect blend of exercise, diet, and healthy habits like getting enough sleep can help in reducing the severity of symptoms. There is no standard diet for PCOS but a low glycemic index (GI) diet such as nuts and fruits along with a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is advisable by doctors to manage PCOS symptoms.
Remember the only workout you’ll regret is the one you didn’t do so stay focused and keep your fitness game strong!

Comments

  • Aditi Dwivedi
    reply

    Useful post

    June 19, 2020

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