PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome: treatment and symptoms

SOPK ou syndrome des ovaires polykistiques : traitement et symptômes

What are the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome, more commonly known as PCOS affects one in seven women in France, and is the world's leading cause of infertility.

It is a pathology of the endocrine system that can be defined as a set of symptoms linked to anovulatory menstrual cycles (absence of ovulation) and high levels of androgens (male hormones).

Its main clinical features are irregular or absent periods, infertility, excess weight and hyperandrogenism.

Irregular periods can be complicated to manage for many women, so we recommend our menstrual briefs, which will be adapted to your irregular cycles.

In addition, many patients with polycystic ovaries have features of metabolic syndrome, such as visceral obesity, hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.

But the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome don't stop at the body. Women's mental and emotional functions are also affected: depending on the study, between 27% and 50% of women with PCOS report being depressed, compared with around 19% of women without the condition.

How is PCOS diagnosed?

Based on recommendations issued by the American Society of Endocrinology in 2013, the diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome should be made when at least two of the three Rotterdam criteria are met, namely:

  • clinical hyperandrogenism(acne, hirsutism, androgenic or biological alopecia);
  • anovulatory cycles (absence of menses or irregular menses);
  • polycystic ovaries.

The importance of each of these criteria in the clinical picture of PCOS is open to debate. In particular, they may lead to the diagnosis of a woman with irregular menses and polycystic ovaries, but no androgen excess.

Thus, it is quite possible to have PCOS with a perfectly normal ultrasound, while polycystic ovaries on ultrasound do not necessarily equate to a diagnosis of PCOS.

Approximately 20-30% of women of childbearing age have polycystic ovaries, but only half of these have the signs or symptoms of PCOS. Among "normal" women, experts believe it is possible that they control symptoms associated with PCOS through factors such as diet and exercise, and are at risk of developing PCOS if these factors are altered.

Diet as a treatment for PCOS?

Changes in lifestyle (diet, exercise, stress management, sleep, environment) are essential to any natural PCOS management strategy, or as a complement to medical treatment.

Diet, a key element in any strategy to reverse polycystic ovary syndrome.

First and foremost, it's important to remember that polycystic ovaries are caused by the following two actions:

  • a high level of androgens (including testosterone), which are responsible for the majority of our symptoms by interacting with all our other hormones;
  • chronic low-grade inflammation, which is one of the metabolic risk factors associated with PCOS. If you're experiencing bloating, low energy, brain fog, anxiety or painful joints, inflammation is almost certainly the cause.

Anything that causes inflammation contributes to insulin resistance. In a vicious circle, excessive insulin production is associated with increased inflammation in the body, which can contribute to the development of multiple pathologies such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

The good news is that diet can enable us to act on these mechanisms.

What to eat when suffering from PCOS?

The intestinal microbiota is one of the most hotly debated topics in scientific research. Indeed, the 100,000 billion bacteria it contains can control our inflammation and are partly responsible for the proper functioning of our immune system.

And that's not all: our liver and adipose tissue receive signals from the microbiota that enable them to balance themselves and function better. What's more, recent research shows that anxiety or stress can be linked to microbiota imbalances.

The first step towards a healthy intestinal microbiota is to limit sugar intake. Refined sugars are linked to significant nutrient depletion in the body, disruption of the intestinal microbiota and exacerbation of inflammation. They also affect our stress levels, mood and energy levels.

Your digestive health can also be helped by a diet rich in prebiotics, which nourish good intestinal bacteria, and probiotics, which contribute to a well-balanced intestinal flora.

In addition to the intestinal microbiota, it may be useful to avoid foods and/or elements known to be pAmong the causes of chronic inflammation are sugar, refined carbohydrates, food allergies or sensitivities, trans-fatty acids, omega-6 from certain vegetable oils, environmental toxins, stress and imbalanced intestinal flora.

Changing your diet to improve or even reverse your PCOS requires not only protecting your intestines, but also optimizing your nutritional status. This means adopting a rich, varied, unprocessed diet, favoring whole foods and good fats. It also means eating proteins and low-starch vegetables. Lastly, carbohydrate consumption must be carefully controlled.

It's all about adopting a common-sense diet, calibrated to the specific needs of PCOS.

PCOS: the importance of diet

The principles described above are designed to explain why certain dietary choices are preferable to others when you have PCOS. To be easy to adopt, these changes must make sense.

Meals are a time for meeting, exchanging and sharing, which we sorely need to maintain a balanced psycho-emotional state. So changing your eating habits shouldn't become a source of constraint, stress or frustration.

In addition, women with PCOS suffer from eating disorders at a much higher rate than the general population. This is linked to the hormonal imbalances characteristic of this syndrome, which lead to both increased appetite and impaired impulse control.

When implementing changes designed to reverse PCOS, it is therefore important to maintain a good relationship with food.

In conclusion, learning to manage PCOS is a gradual process. So listen to your desires, be kind to yourself and, above all, cultivate flexibility.

Author Clara Stephenson is the founder of the platformLes Nativesplatform, which aims to provide women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome a set of resources designed to promote their hormonal balance and fertility. You can also find her on Instagram@les_natives.

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The information contained in the articles on www-elia-lingerie.com is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.