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Are you fed up of PCOS symptoms?


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder which affects approximately two in every ten women. PCOS is often characterised by irregular/absent periods, ovarian cysts, and hormonal imbalances that can have a significant impact on a woman's physical and emotional well-being (hirsutism, acne, low mood, hair loss, weight gain). In this blog post, we'll explore PCOS and delve into how lifestyle medicine and health coaching can empower women to take control of their health and well-being and actually improve the many symptoms associated with PCOS.



Understanding PCOS:

PCOS affects approximately 2 in 10 women of childbearing age and is a leading cause of infertility. The syndrome is marked by an excess of androgens (male hormones) and anovulation (lack of ovulation), leading to irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts, and a range of symptoms such as acne, hirsutism (excess hair growth), weight gain and hair loss. PCOS is a complex, multi-system disorder that is likely influenced by genetics amongst other factors such environmental factors and lifestyle factors (nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress). PCOS is also associated with insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, and this is important to be aware of, as this increases an individual’s risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease.


Managing PCOS involves a comprehensive approach that addresses various aspects of physical and mental well-being and other health outcomes. While individual responses to interventions may vary, here are some general strategies that can help improve PCOS and overall health outcomes:


Optimise Nutrition:

  • The majority of your nutrition should come from whole foods with a plant focus -fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs & spices. It is also important to ensure that you eat adequate amounts lean protein and healthy fats (think extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, oily fish). Eating a wide variety of plants will also help boost your fibre intake which helps improve your blood sugar balance too!.

  • Avoid/minimise ultra-processed foods, get in the habit of reading food labels. The majority of your nutrition should come from whole foods (single ingredient items).


Regular Exercise:

  • Regular physical activity has so many health benefits. It doesn’t matter what your starting point is, the important thing is that you start making small increases in your daily physical activity, don’t underestimate the power of a 10-minute walk and taking regular movement breaks to break up sedentary time.

  • Maintaining muscle mass is also hugely important so incorporating muscle strengthening exercise into your weekly routine is also super important. Increasing your muscle mass will also help you to improve your insulin sensitivity which will not only help you to improve your PCOS symptoms, but help you to feel stronger too!

 

Managing Stress:

  • In today’s busy world many of us are stuck in “fight or flight” mode and it is wreaking havoc on our overall health and well-being (and PCOS symptoms). We absolutely must consciously do something to help down regulate of our overly active nervous system.   This could be anything from yoga, meditation, deep breathing, mindfulness to having a hot bath. The important thing is that you find something that works for you and that you do regularly.

 

Getting Good Sleep:

  • Your body will thrive on a regular sleep routine so aim to go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day and aim for 8 hours of sleep per night.

  • Quality sleep matters too and there are lots of things you can do to make sure your sleep quality is good too – room temperature, avoid caffeine after 12 noon, minimise alcohol intake, avoid blue light from screens, get regular exercise etc.  

 

The Role of Health Coaching:

Health coaching offers a personalised approach and helps you to make lasting lifestyle modifications, taking into account your individual needs, challenges and preferences.  A Health Coach will work collaboratively with you to develop manageable strategies for improving your nutrition, incorporating regular exercise, managing stress, and getting optimal sleep – all of which are essential components in PCOS management.


A health coach will also serve as a supportive ally throughout your lifestyle change journey. Regular check-ins, goal-setting sessions, and ongoing support provide individuals with the accountability they need to stay committed to making lifestyle changes, creating new habits and achieving their health goals. Through this collaborative and personalised approach, women with PCOS can embrace a healthier and more fulfilling life, free from the daily struggles of trying to manage PCOS symptoms.

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