PCOS is a fairly common condition in women (1 in 10), however there are many misconceptions out there about it. Check out these 7 myths about PCOS…
PCOS = infertility.
Having PCOS does not mean you are infertile. PCOS is a common cause of infertility due to the hormonal imbalances in the body blocking ovulation. PCOS women are still able to fall pregnant, and may or may not need a little help from their doctor.
You must have ovarian cysts if you have PCOS.
Wrong! The Rotterdam diagnostic criteria for PCOS requires 2 out of 3 of the following;
- Irregular menstrual cycles, AND
- Hyperandrogenism (excluding other causes), OR
- Polycystic Ovaries on an ultrasound*
*You do not need to have cysts on ovaries to have PCOS and cysts on the ovaries does not mean you have PCOS.
You have to be overweight to have PCOS.
Incorrect! In fact about 20% or more women present as healthy or underweight and are categorised as having lean PCOS.
There’s no cure for PCOS so there’s nothing you can do about it.
So soo wrong! It is true that there is no cure for PCOS, however, there are many ways to manage your PCOS and reduce your symptoms, including exercise, diet and supplements, some medications**, stress management and positive sleep behaviours.
**This depends on the underlying driver of PCOS. See Finding Your Root Cause of PCOS.
If you’re not trying to conceive there’s no need to worry about PCOS.
Unfortunately, PCOS can increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and anxiety and depression. If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS it is important to manage your condition to reduce your risk of developing other chronic health conditions.
All symptoms of PCOS are the same for every woman.
Not true. There are many symptoms of PCOS and you won’t experience all of them, or even experience them to the same extent that another woman does.
(Symptoms can include: irregular periods, hair loss, unwanted hair growth, acne, bloating, weight gain, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, or even loss of libido.)
There is a one size fits all way to manage PCOS.
As mentioned before, there are different drivers of PCOS, as well as differing symptoms, and most importantly… different outcome goals. Therefore managing PCOS will be different for each woman. If you’re looking to get pregnant your journey will look very different to if you’re looking to reduce your symptoms, or improve your health outcomes.
This is why it is so important to work with YOUR body and tailor your management plan to YOUR goals. And if needed working with health professionals who understand you and what you’re going through.
And there you have it! 7 myths about PCOS busted!
Every single woman on the planet will experience it during their 45 – 55’s. If you asked two different women, they’d tell you two different versions of what menopause was like. That’s because although the symptoms are common, not everyone experiences menopause in the same way….
Not to worry though, there is something you can do to help manage your symptoms and help you through this change in your life.
The 7 Benefits of Exercise for Menopause!
Exercise has been shown to provide several health benefits whilst you are going through menopause. Exercise can…
1. Help Manage Symptoms! (Woohoo!)
Exercise can actually help to manage and reduce some of the symptoms of menopause such as; aches and pains, loss of libido, and fatigue. Increasing physical activity will result in a positive cycle of feeling better, which will increase motivation to exercise, making you feel better, and so on. You’ll end up feeling better on the inside and out!
2. Boost your Mood!
Women going through menopause commonly struggle with mood changes, anxiety, depression, and stress due to the hormonal changes within their bodies. However, exercise can increase positive mood and also protect against anxiety and depression.
3. Prevent Weight Gain!
Due to changes in hormone levels during menopause women may find they gain weight more easily than before (especially around the belly). Exercise and healthy eating is a great way to reduce weight and prevent any extra kilo’s creeping on.
4. Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease!
Oestrogen plays a protective mechanism against cardiovascular disease. During menopause, oestrogen is reduced which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can strengthen your heart and reduce risk of heart disease
5. Reduce Risk of Osteoporosis!
Oestrogen also plays an important role in maintaining bone density. The reduced oestrogen production during menopause can lead to decreased bone density, and thus increase the risk of osteoporosis. Exercise can strengthen bones and muscles, and improve balance reducing the risk of fractures due to falls.
6. Reduce Risk of Diabetes!
Changes in hormone levels during menopause can also affect the way your body reacts to insulin, potentially leading to diabetes. Exercise helps the body respond to insulin and remove excess blood sugars reducing the risk of developing diabetes.
7. Help Maintain Physical Function!
As our bodies age they start to decline in physical function (loss of muscle, loss of bone, decrease in balance, etc). Exercise is the perfect way to keep up your function and ability to continue to live the life you love. (And run around after your energetic little grandchildren!)
Awesome right?! You don’t have to just deal with this change you’re going through… There is something YOU can do to help yourself through it!
General Exercise Guidelines
150 mins of moderate exercise a week (or 30 mins a day over 5 days)
75 mins of vigorous activity a week
2-3x strength training days a week (non-consecutive days)
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So you’ve been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
You might be sitting there wondering where to go from here? You FINALLY have an explanation for why you’ve been experiencing all those symptoms; hooray! This is good news (even if it doesn’t feel like it) because NOW you can do something about it.
Root cause of PCOS
Managing PCOS enables you to take back control of your life and it starts by finding the root cause driving your symptoms.
PCOS occurs when there is an imbalance of hormones in the body (this is what causes all those annoying symptoms you’ve been experiencing). So it makes sense the aim of managing your PCOS should be to determine what’s causing this imbalance and work towards re-balancing your hormones.
Insulin Resistance & PCOS
This is the most common type of PCOS. Insulin resistance occurs when the body stops responding to insulin, and both sugar and insulin levels in the blood start to rise. High levels of insulin can stimulate androgen production, thus disturbing the normal balance of hormones.
A blood sugar test from your GP can determine whether you have insulin resistance. If insulin resistance is driving your PCOS it’s particularly important to adopt a healthy and nourishing diet, and exercise regularly to manage and improve your blood sugar levels.
Inflammation & PCOS
Inflammation can be present in all types of PCOS. Things such as; stress, food sensitivities, poor gut health can lead to long term inflammation in the body. Long term inflammation can disrupt the body’s normal hormone levels and wreak havoc on both your physical and mental health.
Symptoms of inflammation are things like; fatigue, anxiety, IBS like symptoms, or joint pain (to name a few). If inflammation is the driver of your PCOS: determine your underlying source and start including positive lifestyle behaviours to support your body and manage your symptoms.
Adrenal & PCOS
If you don’t fit the insulin resistant or inflammatory type PCOS you may be one of the few women who have an adrenal form of PCOS. This occurs when the ovaries function as normal but the adrenal glands produce androgens in response to “stress” which can then result in an imbalance of hormone.
A blood hormone test (testing for DHEA/DHEA-S) from your GP would help determine whether adrenal glands are functioning as normal. If your stress response system is driving your PCOS, learning to manage your stress and support your nervous system is vital!
Knowing your root cause can be a game changer when it comes to better managing your PCOS. Now you can work towards re-balancing your hormones, improving your symptoms, and get back to feeling better day to day!
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PCOS can make you feel like you’re going insane!
Some days are good, some are bad, and then there’s the days you just feel plain awful. It seems like nobody understands how you feel or what you’re going through, heck sometimes you don’t understand what’s going on and life feels out of control. Trust me when I say you’re not alone and trust me when I say there IS something you can do to take back control of your life!
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (or PCOS) occurs when there is an chronic imbalance of hormones in the body. This can cause havoc on the body and possible symptoms are; fatigue, bloating, hair loss or unwanted hair growth, acne, and weight gain.
What YOU can do about your PCOS?
So you may have been told to “lose 5-10% of your body weight” or “take these medications”, or if you have lean PCOS the classic “there’s nothing we can do, so just come back when you’re trying to get pregnant and we’ll help”. But let me tell you… there IS something YOU can do to help get your life back!
Now I’m not talking about going out and flogging yourself at the gym or running until you vomit. I’m talking about the kind of exercise to get your body moving, make you feel better, and improve your PCOS symptoms.
How will exercise help my PCOS?
Exercise can help you manage your PCOS in a number of ways such as;
- Help to balance your hormones,
- Reduce symptoms such as;
- Low moods, anxiety, and/or depression
- Help regulate your periods and hence increase chance of pregnancy,
- Manage your weight either by;
- Reducing body weight by 5-10% (which helps improve symptoms and increase chance of pregnancy), or
- Improve body composition by increasing muscle mass and maintaining a healthy level of fat (very important for ovulation!)
Along with a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, reducing stress, and learning to understand your cycle you can also improve acne, hair loss, unwanted hair, and improve overall well-being, and give you back some control in managing your PCOS.
Exercising for PCOS
So now you know why exercise is good for PCOS, but how should you add it into your life? Here is a bit of a guide…..
- Aim for 30 minutes most days of the week of moderate aerobic exercise
This is important for reducing inflammation in the body, and improving symptoms.
- Add 2-3 strength training days into your week
This is important for improving body composition, increasing metabolic rate for weight loss, and supporting the body through pregnancy.
- Find a form of exercise that you enjoy
This will make it much easier to stick with and reach your health goals, whether that’s gym exercises, pilates, group classes, running, swimming, aqua aerobics, cycling, dancing, hiking, there’s many ways to exercise so think big!
- And most importantly listen to your body!
Move in a way that will leave you feeling good, this may change how you exercise day to day, but it is important for long term recovery of your body.
There you have it, how you can take your health into your own hands and manage your PCOS. If you would like some more information or help in managing your PCOS contact one of our Exercise Physiologists and we will help you through your journey to better health.
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