Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also known as PCOS, comes from the presence of small cysts on the ovaries (although not everyone with the condition has cysts on their ovaries). PCOS is not well-understood and can be misdiagnosed in many instances.
This is one of the most common hormonal disorders occurring in people assigned female at birth during their reproductive years – affecting 7% of women in Canada.
When an individual doesn’t make enough hormones to allow ovulation, ovaries can develop small cysts that make hormones called androgens.
PCOS is a syndrome with many different symptoms that are different from one person to the other, which makes the condition that much harder to diagnose. Here are the most common symptoms:
- Hyperandrogenemia or high levels of blood androgens like testosterone
- Hirsutism: Excessive and unwanted hair growth in a male-pattern distribution, on the chest, stomach, and back for example.
- Acne: most demonstrated in younger women.
- Alopecia: Alopecia is defined as hair thinning or male-pattern baldness
How to treat PCOS?
Let’s say you’re a woman who gets diagnosed with PCOS at age 35. The doctor might suggest some treatments, including hormone supplementation, birth control pills or medication for controlling your symptoms like acne or hair growth.
If your BMI is above a certain threshold, your doctor might also suggest weight loss. There is some evidence to show that a nourishing diet and active lifestyle can be useful for treating PCOS, but the recommendation for weight loss through restrictive dieting is, unfortunately, a common occurrence.
However, contrary to popular belief, rates of overweight and obesity are the same in people with PCOS and in the rest of the population. There is no causal evidence that shows that body size causes PCOS.
How low-carb diets don’t work for PCOS or anyone else
One of the metabolic consequences of PCOS is high insulin. In fact, insulin is what sends out hunger signals in the body. Since people with PCOS have high levels of insulin and low blood sugar, that means they are almost constantly in a hungry state and have carb cravings.
If you start restricting or dieting – especially with a low-carb diet – insulin will be released in the body even more and cause even more cravings, which is why people with PCOS have a higher risk of binging.
Weight loss is not an effective way to treat PCOS because it could place people in an endless loop of restriction. They would be stuck not being able to lose weight because of the binging and worsening mental and physical symptoms of PCOS.
This can also cause eating disorder behaviors if the people are too discouraged by their incapacity to lose weight.
To learn more about how cutting out carbs impacts your hormones and your health, you can check out our blog post about cutting out carbs!
In the same way a nourishing diet would benefit someone who is suffering from a lack of nutrients, a change towards gentle exercise and intuitive eating that incorporates a variety of food groups can be a sustainable way to improve PCOS symptoms.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with PCOS and wants to make diet changes in a safe way to benefit their life, try to seek help by scheduling an appointment and reaching out to our team at email@example.com or (202) 738-4726.
By: Mia El-Eid, Digital Marketing Coordinator in collaboration with Elsa Chu, Registered Dietitian
Sööma est une entreprise bilingue qui fonctionne en anglais et en français. Nous fournissons des articles de blogue, des recettes et des articles de diverses sources qui sont parfois écrits en anglais et parfois en français. Si vous vous sentez incapable d’accéder à un article ou à un sujet spécifique en raison d’une barrière linguistique, veuillez nous contacter à firstname.lastname@example.org et nous serons heureux de traduire le contenu pour vous.
Sööma is a bilingual company that operates in both English and in French. We will provide blog posts, recipes and articles from various sources that are sometimes written in English and sometimes in French. If you feel unable to access a specific article or topic due to a language barrier, please reach out to us at email@example.com and we will be happy to translate the content for you.
- Lujan ME, Chizen DR, Pierson RA. Diagnostic criteria for polycystic ovary syndrome: pitfalls and controversies. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2008 Aug;30(8):671-679. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(16)32915-2. PMID: 18786289; PMCID: PMC2893212.
- Podcast: Food Psych S6 E199 : PCOS and Food peace