Polycystic ovary syndrome 101
PCOS is an imbalance of female sex hormones.
photograph courtesy of pexels/ Nadezhda Moryak | PCOS can be managed by different ways but lifestyle changes can also help reduce the risks.
had polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS but was not aware of it until I had difficulty getting pregnant. Menstruation would come on time. No abdominal cramps, no acne. I was asymptomatic. However, in my entire career, I was exposed to an environment of free meals that are fat-laden, with high food portions and minimal intake of vitamins and minerals.
What is PCOS? PCOS is an imbalance of female sex hormones. Ovaries contain lifetime supply of eggs which are immature and stored in tiny fluid structure called follicles. Pituitary gland (PG) secretes follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) every month into the blood stream and when it reaches the ovaries, several immature eggs, start to mature, expanding the follicle size- releasing female sex hormone (estrogen).
Once it reaches a certain level, the PG releases LH to the ovaries, causing the most mature follicle to open and release its egg in a process called ovulation. The egg travels through the fallopian tube and waits for fertilization it and embeds into the walls of the uterus. The remaining follicles and eggs are dissolved. If egg is not fertilized, it sloughs off as menstruation.
In PCOS, the PG releases high levels of LH into bloodstream, disrupting menstruation cycle, follicles do not mature and ovulation does not occur can lead to infertility. Some of the immature follicles do not dissolve and remain as fluid-filled sacs or cysts.
Blood may have high levels of insulin produced by pancreas; plus, high levels LH can produce excess production of male hormone (testosterone) can prevent ovulation.
PCOS also raises the risk of diabetes because of high insulin levels, heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol abnormalities and endometrial cancer.
PCOS can be managed by different ways but lifestyle changes can also help reduce the risks. For dietary treatment for general population, dietary recommendations vary from low-calorie diets with fat modifications, Mediterranean diet (MD), ketogenic diet (KD) and reduction in the dietary glycemic index (GI) and total calorie reduction can induce weight loss.
Increasing physical exercise coupled with good diet plan can be very helpful. However, there are lean and obese women with PCOS, so lifestyle changes must be customized to the needs of the woman.
To summarize, make food your medicine for nutritional healing. Do not abuse any dietary prescription such as the ketogenic diet to engage in non-healthy food choices. Lifestyle changes will always prove to be beneficial at any stage of life that we are in.
Note: Maria Victoria M. Lucasan is a licensed nutritionist-dietitian. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Foods and Nutrition and her Master in Business Administration major in Hotel Restaurant Management from St. Paul University. She has been an academician under the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (DLS-CSB) for 15 years on a part-time-basis while having a full-scale career in the food dervice industry as a manager/consultant. At the onset of the pandemic, she decided to have a weight loss management program by adding physical activity (taebo and hip hop tabata) to her routine and watching her portion sizes. Currently, she finds time to exercise and watch her food portions to maintain her body weight. She believes in “Galaw-galaw nang di pumanaw.”
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