Women worldwide are living with this condition and the unfortunate truth is, it has now become a common conversational topic in women’s health. Global PCOS prevalence has been reported to affect between 5 to 18% of women. Although the exact causes are still being explored, there has been an overflowing amount of studies where researchers and health experts believe both biological and environmental factors including genetics, excess androgen, insulin resistance, poor eating habits, and living a sedentary lifestyle can play a role in the development of the condition. Another thing worth noting, is it primarily affects women of a reproductive age. When you have PCOS, you’ll likely experience a wide range of physical and mental health symptoms, which otherwise increase your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and a diminish in your overall quality of life. Fortunately, there are ways to manage some of the common PCOS secondary symptoms like acne, weight gain, inflammation, and irregular periods.
Treating Skincare with Good ol’ Retinol
Among the most perceptible features of PCOS are skin-related issues such as acne. Since the condition is associated with hormone imbalances, it can initially manifest as acne flare-ups on your jawline, chin, and upper neck. Acne lesions may even deepen and grow larger during menstruation, making it crucial for you to treat the affected acne accordingly. If you prefer not to take oral contraceptive pills, consider investing in skincare products with retinoids. As covered in our previous article, retinoids can help soothe acne by unclogging pores and slowing down the shedding process of the skin's outermost layer.
Retinoids derive from the vitamin A family, which helps reduce acne scars and hyperpigmentation.
Taking the right medication for weight loss
Another physically noticeable symptom among sufferers is unintentional weight gain, mainly due to insulin resistance and excess androgen which makes the body store excess blood sugar as fat cells. Although it can be difficult to lose weight on diet and exercise alone, those who are overweight or obese can consider taking prescription weight loss medications for PCOS. Prescription medications under the supervision of a health professional that help combat PCOS-induced weight gain include Metformin, which reduces fatty tissue by improving insulin function and blood sugar levels, as well as GLP-1 medications, which mimic a gut hormone to reduce cravings and prevent weight gain. By complementing these medications with lifestyle changes, even a modest weight loss of 5-10% can help improve your condition and reduce the risk of comorbidities like diabetes. Always speak to a medical professional and nutritionist when considering medicinal options.
Having the right diet and nutrition really helps
Women with PCOS are also observed to have high pro-inflammatory markers, which contribute to or worsen various symptoms like headaches, joint pain, fatigue, and skin and bowel issues. This inflammatory response can be triggered by the foods you eat, so experts recommend modifying your diet to manage PCOS better. This involves adopting an anti-inflammatory diet composed of fruits that are high in antioxidants, unsaturated fat sources like flaxseed and olive oil, and protein-rich foods like beans and legumes. Additionally, avoiding sugary foods and beverages and limiting red meat consumption can help reduce inflammation.
Physical Movement is An Absolute Must
For PCOS patients struggling with irregular period cycles, some research published has found that regular physical exercise is particularly beneficial for reproductive health.
Exercising can enhance glycemic control and reduce insulin resistance, one of the primary markers of PCOS, whilst also lowering the risk of metabolic syndromes and infertility.
Among the most suitable exercise interventions for women with PCOS are aerobics, yoga, and high-intensity interval training.
No matter how challenging it may be to live life with PCOS, there are multiple ways to alleviate symptoms and better manage your condition. Remember to also consult with your physician when considering these treatment options and lifestyle changes. Continue reading Vingt Sept Magazine for more helpful articles on health, wellness, and lifestyle.
Words by Cyan Leigh Dacasin
Editor Jheanelle Feanny