You might have heard of PCOS from a friend who is having trouble getting pregnant. Believe it or not, it is quite more common than you think. One out of ten women in the UK is affected by Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. There is not much known about its cause, but most cases are often associated with genetics, androgen excess, and insulin resistance. Data suggests that PCOS is a disorder that starts to affect women mostly in their late teens to their early 20s. Some of the most common symptoms to watch out for include irregular periods or no periods at all, hirsutism (excessive hair growth), weight gain, thinning hair, acne, oily skin, and difficulty in getting pregnant for those trying to conceive. Each case is different, and not everyone’s symptoms will check the boxes, as some would not experience any symptoms at all.
Even though PCOS is a prevalent lifelong condition that affects women worldwide, sadly, there is not a cure for it yet. That sucks, especially because the real experience is more gruesome than the facts stated above. But fret not, with the right knowledge and lifestyle changes, the symptoms and effects of PCOS can be properly managed.
1. Take Oral Contraceptives
After diagnosis, your doctor will most probably prescribe you birth control pill. It does its wonders by correcting your hormonal imbalance and helping you have regular periods, ovulate, and have clearer skin (yay!). Oral contraceptives have two types: combination pills and progestin-only pills. While there are many brands available, each one is just as effective as the next for managing symptoms. However, you might experience certain side effects when taking the pill as it affects each one differently. That is why it is still best to consult with your gynecologist first, okay?
2. Consider Metformin as Well
This magic bullet controls blood sugar by helping your body respond better to your natural insulin. Originally, this was developed as a medication for type 2 diabetes. But for PCOS, metformin is used to target weight loss and fertility and restore normal ovulatory cycles. It also helps with hyperandrogenism and decreases the risk of GDM or gestational diabetes mellitus. If taken regularly, symptoms can improve as early as six months.
3. Sleeping Well and Exercising Regularly
Need I say more? A good night’s sleep and regular exercise promote a sound mind and body, as we all know. Getting enough zzz’s helps you boost your metabolism, which is beneficial for PCOS patients who are experiencing weight gain due to the condition. Aside from that, getting to bed early and having complete eight hours of sleep will have you ‘wake up on the right side of the bed.’ And that makes sense because sleep deprivation results in a lack of energy in the morning, making us grumpy and easily annoyed all day.
The right exercise habit is not only good for PCOS but also to your overall health. Increased physical activity will naturally boost your insulin sensitivity, lower your cholesterol, increase your endorphin levels, and aid in weight loss. You can start with a quick 30-minute jog in the morning or by practicing yoga at home with mobile yoga apps. Easy peasy!
4. Eat Healthily!
Eat your greens, you are what you eat—so easy to say yet so hard to do, right? Temptations are everywhere: fast food, junk food, sweet confections. It’s tough to break old, disgusting habits we’ve grown to love. Talk about toxic.
The good news, going on a healthy diet does not have to mean eating food that doesn’t taste well or starving yourself. There are a lot of easy, make-it-yourself-at-home, healthy, and yummy recipes available on the internet.
5. Build a Skincare Routine
Suffering from acne as an effect of having PCOS is just terrible. It tramples your spirits and destroys your confidence. Thankfully, if you already are religiously practicing the advice above, you’ll probably be on the way to having a clear complexion. Still, when your hormones spike up and go crazy, especially on ‘red days,’ it is better to have your holy grails ready.
Start with a gentle cleanser fit for daily use, follow with The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution (use weekly for exfoliation) to alternate with The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10 % + Zinc 1% (to control sebum production). Then, slather some generous amount of Aloe Vera from the Nature Republic as a moisturizer and seal the deal with your favorite sunscreen for those harsh sunlight during the day.
Having PCOS might be a lifelong condition, but you absolutely need not be defined by it! Just start with a purpose and work your way diligently into building a lifestyle that helps you manage your symptoms. Trust the process, and you are sure to get better.