September is National PCOS Awareness Month, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share five things I do to manage my PCOS.
Please note that I’m not a medical professional. I’m sharing things that work for me, but they are not intended to be used as professional medical advice.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is short for polycystic ovarian syndrome. According to WomensHealth.gov, PCOS affects one in ten women of childbearing age.
“PCOS is characterized by a myriad of seemingly unrelated symptoms and may include irregular or absent periods, lack of ovulation, weight gain, acne, excessive facial hair and infertility. Even more serious, women with PCOS may be at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and endometrial cancer, especially if PCOS is left untreated.”
The only benefit I’ve seen so far of having PCOS is a slightly higher chance of a higher-than-average egg retrieval during fertility treatments.
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5 Management Tips for PCOS
Myoinositol is a dietary supplement that is marketed to supporting liver function and cellular detoxification. According to the brand I use, myoinositol “is an indirect source of glucuronic acid, which is essential to liver detoxification.” It’s important to note that myoinositol and the statements about its intended function have not been evaluated by the FDA.
So, why do I take it? The simple answer: my reproductive specialist told me to when we went through IVF.
My doctor told me studies have shown that inositol can help women with PCOS manage all of the lovely symptoms. Regulate cycles, decrease hair growth and acne, and improve egg quality. So, I got some from Amazon and started popping the pills.
I’ve noticed taking inositol does help decrease my PCOS symptoms. An added bonus is that it helps me sleep deeper. I’d recommend taking this supplement at night until you know how groggy it makes you. I take one 750mg capsule each night and that seems to be enough for me.
A word of caution: when I first started taking inositol, I had some crazy vivid nightmares for the first few nights. I did some googling and it turns out this can be common. After the 3rd night, the nightmares left and I’ve been sleeping better than before.
2) Low-sugar diet
I’m not the greatest at this because 1) I’m married to a man who loves to bake and 2) I have little willpower against Ben & Jerry’s. But when I am more diligent about sticking to complex carbs over simple carbs, I do feel better.
Over the years I’ve been diagnosed as “insulin resistant” and put on Metformin. However, I don’t have to take it. My blood sugar levels can regulate themselves as long as I don’t go super crazy. When my face starts to feel hot or the room starts to spin, I know I’ve overdone it on the sugar and immediately stop. My reproductive specialist had me on it to prepare for my IVF and FET experiences but took me off of it when I transferred my care to an obstetrician.
You can google “PCOS diet” and find some great lists and menus. To give you an idea of what you might find on those lists, here are some better-for-you foods (whether or not you have PCOS or are diagnosed as insulin resistant):
- Sweet potatoes over white potatoes
- Whole grain bread over whole wheat bread and white bread
- High-fiber vegetables
- Lean protein
Anything with white flour or white sugar should be avoided if possible or eaten in very small quantities.
Chances are, if you have PCOS, you have weight issues. When I’m not on Metformin I hit a brick wall with my weight. No matter how much I exercise I can’t seem to get past it. I’ve learned to be ok with my weight plateau and just work to maintain my weight rather than kill myself to lose it. Exercise may not help the pounds to shed, but it does keep my body strong and my mood high.
The mood portion is the biggest reason I exercise. When you are being attacked from the inside by a hormonal imbalance, there’s not a lot of happy going on. You feel fat and bloated (which you truthfully may be – thanks again, PCOS). You feel lethargic and depressed. You feel agitated and moody. Yes, this sounds a lot like PMS, but with PCOS you can feel this way throughout your cycle (because who knows what your cycle is doing!).
When I’m feeling just blah, I force myself to exercise – walk around the block, have a dance party with my daughter, hit the gym – and I eventually feel better.
4) BB cream
Now, I don’t have an outrageous case of adult acne, but it’s still there. Between my facial hair and my acne, I feel all kinds of gorgeous some days.
I recently discovered a product called BB cream. The concept apparently started in Korea with medical professionals who developed a skincare product that burn victims, plastic surgery patients, and others could use during recovery. This skincare product had many beneficial properties that helped the skin to heal. When the US got ahold of the BB cream concept, they added light pigment and marketed it to everyone who wanted a more nutrient-rich tinted moisturizer.
When PCOS has got me feeling less-than-pretty, I slap some BB cream on my face and genuinely do feel better about myself.
NYX is the first brand I’ve tried, and I’ve loved it. It’s soft and matches my skin complexion enough to really even it out. BB cream isn’t a full-coverage foundation, but it can be built to hide acne. A light spread on my face significantly diminishes redness and scarring.
Below I have a link for the BB cream on Amazon, but you can also find this particular brand at Target for a similar price. (But then you’d have to put pants on…)
5) Patience with myself
This last tip might be the most important one of all. I’ve alluded to this principle in several of the above tips, but patience with myself is the biggest way I manage my PCOS. Choosing to accept my condition and actively manage its symptoms as best I can has helped me not be bitter, anxious, or just plain angry about it.
This syndrome can make me look like a pubescent, overweight sasquatch. Because of PCOS I can enjoy PMS all month long. PCOS contributed to the pain of infertility. But, I’m not PCOS. I’m more than that.
So, when I miss my waxing appointment and have to wait a month before my waxing lady is available again – I can choose to be ok with the au naturale me. When I snap at my daughter because the hormones are raging, I can choose to take a deep breath, remember I’m not my hormonal rage, and genuinely apologize. And when I’m just so sick of swallowing yet another pill in an effort to manage my PCOS, I can choose to focus on all the wonderful things my body can do instead of focusing on what it can’t.
National PCOS Awareness Month
If you are the one in ten women who suffers from PCOS, I’m sorry. I know the road to even get diagnosed can be an emotional roller coaster. Then there’s actually dealing with all the symptoms. Please don’t let this define you. Remember all the good your body can do and how you can still bless and serve those around you.
If you know someone who suffers from PCOS, please consider sharing this post. Even knowing that someone else is going through a similar journey can be comforting.
If you have PCOS, how do you manage your symptoms? Comment below.