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Lifestyle Changes that Can Help with the Treatment of PCOS

When your doctor diagnosed you with PCOS, it probably wasn’t the happiest day of your life. Though you were glad to finally find out why you experienced symptoms, such as missed periods and heavy bleeding, knowing that your hormones were out of balance made you wonder if you’d ever be able to conceive a child.PCOS

Though PCOS is a common cause of infertility in women, it’s also highly treatable. The condition arises when your body produces too many androgens, which are “male” hormones. That’s why two symptoms of PCOS — facial hair and male-pattern baldness or hair thinning — are more commonly seen in men than in women.

The exact cause of PCOS isn’t known, bit it may be at least partly hereditary. Both low-grade inflammation and too much of the hormone insulin are also factors that can trigger your body to produce high levels of androgens. Luckily, when PCOS is diagnosed early, you may be able to reverse inflammation and control your insulin levels with a few adjustments to your lifestyle.

Your specialist at Columbia Fertility Associates — conveniently located in Washington, DC, Bethesda, Maryland, and Arlington, Virginia — helps you balance your hormones by advising the following changes:

Avoid processed foods and sugar

Eating foods that are processed or high in sugar or corn syrup causes your blood sugar levels to spike. If your blood sugar is too high, your body can’t produce enough insulin to process it.

Normally, your body uses insulin to get blood sugar into your cells, where it’s converted to fuel. Without enough insulin to move it into your cells, the sugar remains in your blood. High levels of circulating blood sugar can lead to diabetes, organ damage, and the production of the excess androgens associated with PCOS.

Processed foods and sugar may also trigger your body’s immune response, leading to low-grade inflammation. Inflammation is not only associated with PCOS, but also a range of other health conditions, including heart disease.

Eat more whole foods

Though you may feel deprived by giving up some of your comfort foods, you can tickle your palate with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats. We can help you plan a diet that’s good for you and tastes good, too. You can also learn new, healthier ways of cooking old favorites.

One way to easily add in healthier foods that normalize your insulin levels and hormones is to shop around the perimeters of your local grocery store, rather than in the aisles that contain processed foods. You can also take the opportunity to learn more about healthy cuisines from around the world as you explore new kinds of foods and new ways of eating.

Move more

Exercise gets a bad rap because it sometimes feels like a chore. But when you were a kid, you called exercise “play.” Sports, dancing, skating, swimming, and running or cycling with your friends or family all counts as exercise.

If you haven’t been active in a while, we can help you find activities that are appropriate to your current abilities. Adding in more activities gradually, and stressing variety — such as lifting weights two days a week, taking a dance class twice a week, and cycling with family on weekends — helps stave off boredom.

And suddenly you’re losing weight

One of the best ways to control PCOS symptoms and restore hormonal balance is to take off unneeded pounds. In fact, losing just 10-15% of your current body weight may make the difference. By eliminating sugar and processed foods from your diet and adding in a variety of fun physical activities, you’re well on your way to a healthy, stable weight.

Whether you find lifestyle changes fun or daunting, your doctor here at Columbia Fertility Associates is with you every step of the way. In addition to lifestyle changes, we may recommend hormonal therapy or medications to increase your chances of pregnancy. If these therapies don’t work, we may advise surgery or other fertility treatments.

To get your hormones back in balance so you can have the pregnancy you desire, call us at any of our office locations or click the button to get started online.