8 PCOS Tips
Published May 21, 2020
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Are you searching for PCOS tips that will help you in your battle to get your life back? I am here to help. Through my 10 year journey, I am sharing my knowledge on what has worked for me.
What is PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. According to The Mayo Clinic, “Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.” In addition, it affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.
Be sure to click here to learn more about PCOS.
For the majority of my life, I’ve always struggled with my weight. I either couldn’t lose weight or once I did, I would gain it back by just breathing. This struggle lead to eating disorders and body dymorphia. I hated the thought of food because it became a constant battle. Additionally, I would go months or even years without having a menstrual cycle. This battle was so heartbreaking and HARD. I assumed it was all my fault, but I could never pinpoint what I was doing wrong to have my body back fire on me like it was.
Fast forward to my twenties, I continued to struggled with weight management in addition to infertility. Every month I was either 3-4 pounds heavier with another NEGATIVE read on a pregnancy test. Depression and frustration consumed me and I felt completely hopeless and hated the situation I was in. It just wasn’t fair and it got to the point where I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. I was disgusted with who I was and the body I lived in.
One morning I woke up and decided to become an advocate for myself and to search for answers and to find a solution to my problem. It started with a visit to my OBGYN who took my concerns to heart and truly wanted to help me. He knew from just my symptoms, that I probably had PCOS, but he wanted to be sure. To verify this, he sent me to an Endocrinologist who ran a blood panel checking my hormone and insulin levels. From there, I was diagnosed with PCOS along with being insulin resistant.
What does it mean if you are Insulin Resistant?
Insulin resistant is a term used when you aren’t able to use the insulin you do produce effectively. If you’re insulin resistant, your body may try to pump out high levels of insulin in an effort to keep your blood sugar levels normal. Too-high levels of insulin can cause your ovaries to produce more androgens, such as testosterone. Note: Not everyone diagnosed with PCOS will not be insulin resistant.
To remedy this, he first prescribed progesterone to help with ovulation in hopes to get pregnant, but that was a fail. Next, he put me on Metformin which was the missing puzzle piece. Once taking this on a consistent basis I saw amazing results. I saw a balance in my mood swings, less of an appetite and my weight began to slowly come off. Additionally, I was able to get pregnant with my first daughter, Eloise.
Today, I am now 33 years old and have 2 little girls, Eleanor and Eloise. Blessed is an understatement. In my heart, I truly felt that I would never be able to have children. Not only was I able to have 2 beautiful children, but I lost almost 80 pounds. Although I have seen a drastic improvements in my PCOS symptoms, I still have days and seasons of struggle. It is a daily battle and TAKES CONSTANT WORK.
No Cure, But PCOS Management is possible:
PCOS currently doesn’t have a cure. However, there are many ways to manage and decrease your symptoms. It may take time to see improvements, so don’t throw in the towel to quick. I’m not going to lie, it took lots of research and work to see the drastic improvements I was hoping for. It isn’t going to be easy, but it will be worth it.
Through my 10 year journey, I have found ways to remedy my symptoms and to thrive in the body I was gifted. Management is super important to lower your odds for long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. I have honestly tried everything under the sun and the PCOS tips I have come up with, have honestly helped me so much.
8 PCOS Tips
Below are 8 PCOS tips that have worked for me in the past. However, remember that the things that have worked for me, may not work for you. Be sure to always listen to your body and make note when something feels off. You know your body better than anyone.
1. Become a SELF ADVOCATE
Talk to your primary doctor or OBGYN about your symptoms. Ask them to check your hormone and insulin levels and don’t take no for an answer. You know your body and if you feel like something is off. Stay persistent until you find answers. Remember, 1 in 10 woman suffer from PCOS and most have no idea that they have it. Be a self advocate for yourself!
2. No Processed Foods & Limit Carbs
Be sire to avoiding processed and refined foods such as white flour, sugar, breads and pasta. These processed foods contain harmful chemicals that can make hinder weight-loss and can also destroy the gut microbiome.
As for carbs, it is important to focus on high-fiber, low-sugar carbohydrates to stabilize insulin levels. High insulin levels can cause the ovaries to make more androgen hormones such as testosterone. According to Overtime this can increase body hair, acne, and cause irregular or few periods.
3. Gluten & Dairy Free
I am a FIRM believer in a gluten and dairy free diet to drastically reduce PCOS symptoms. From experience, this had the biggest affect on my PCOS symptoms. I lived gluten and dairy free for 4 years straight with the occasional treat or cheat meal. My symptoms were pretty much gone. My acne improved, my weight stabilized, my mood swings were minimal, and my menstrual cycle became consistent. I felt like an overall better mom, wife, friend and human. The fog lifted.
Recently, I began adding dairy and gluten back into my diet because I thought I could handle it. That was the worst decision I have ever made. Even though I was eating clean, adding dairy and gluten back in took me right back to square one. All my symptoms came rushing back and I felt like crap. Once I removed it again from my diet, my symptoms decreased. This type of eating is GAME CHANGER!
4. Reduce Stress
Reducing stress is a MUST when managing your PCOS symptoms. Woman who struggle with PCOS also have high levels of anxiety and suffer from depression. It is vital to give yourself grace on your bad days. Take a deep breath and focus on the positive. Take time for yourself and make a list of all the amazing things that you have in your life that you are grateful for.
For me, I found it super helpful to see a therapist. From there I was subscribed Zoloft, which has had a BIG impact in my daily life. Taking anti-depression medication has given me balance and peace. Bottom line, be sure to take care of your mental health and talk to someone about your emotions. Getting it out can really cleanse your mind and spirit.
5. Stay Active
Being physically active every day is one of the most helpful things you can do to help manage your PCOS. Research has shown that exercise can help to reduce insulin resistance and inflammation in women with PCOS.
Combining weight training with cardio seems to be the most beneficial for me. I see results when I focus more on weights and add in a 20 minute cardio session 5 days a week. Used to, I would stay on the treadmill for an hour everyday and wouldn’t see any progress. Do talk to your doctor before starting a program.
6. Include Supplements & Herbs
I am currently on Metformin and have been on it for years now. This is something your doctor will subscribe. It is not a medication that is available for purchase over the counter.
Other supplements that help:
- Herbal Tea: Spearmint, Cinnamon & Dandelion Root.
- Evening Primrose– Balances stress levels and helps with cramps and menstrual pain.
- Turmeric: Reduces inflammation in the body and also helps with insulin levels.
- Ovasitol: inositol powder formulated to promote menstrual regularity and normal ovarian function.
Sleep is something that I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. I often find myself tossing and turning 4-5 hours before I can turn my brain off and actually sleep. Once I am asleep, I never fully rest. It is very very frustrating. Come to find out, my sleep issues were a direct correlation to PCOS and insulin resistant.
Sleep is vital in all parts of your life and having poor sleep can drastically increase your PCOS symptoms. According to Balanced Living, poor sleep with PCOS can lead to mood changes, increased hunger, decreases in insulin sensitivity and carb cravings. All of these things can lead to weight gain.
If you are having trouble with sleep try these things:
- Drink Calm: A magnesium drink that helps with sleep
- Limit alcohol, food, and drink close to bedtime
- Avoid caffeine after your morning cup of coffee
- Sleep in a cool, dark room
- Limit screen time at bedtime
- Try a low dose of melatonian
8. Embrace Your Situation
Embrace that you have PCOS and know that you are not in this ALONE. There are almost 7 million woman just in the USA who struggle with PCOS. Find peace in knowing that the symptoms you have been fighting your whole life is not just made up in your head. It is real. PCOS is very real and can be heartbreaking at times. During those hard times, embrace where you are and give yourself the grace you deserve.
Being a woman can be hard, especially when battling embarrassing symptoms. Use your story to inspire others. Cry on the days you need to cry. Constantly work on yourself. Research and become a life long learner when it comes to knowing your body and how PCOS affects it. Be kind to the beautiful human you are!
In conclusion, you are NOT ALONE. Start fighting for your health today and remember to believe in yourself. Additionally, during your hard seasons, give myself grace and cry when you need to cry. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes. This is a process and just like with anything else, you will have good and bad days. My hopes are that these PCOS tips will help support your fight.
If you liked these PCOS Tips, be sure to check out my other blog post below:
I am not a medical doctor and all the information in this article is based on personal experience, along with research based information from WebMD, Health Line and Mayo Clinic. For more PCOS tips, be sure to check out those sources.
Great article, Ashley. I have PCOS and have struggled with infertility and miscarriage, alone with rapid weight gain, inability to lose weight, mood swings, etc. I find that when I control my diet and basically follow the principals of Whole 30 that I can mitigate symptoms. Have you read “It Starts with the Egg”? It offers great insight into the chemistry and biology of PCOS. I highly recommend it, even for people not trying to conceive.
Sending love from Maine!
Hi Courtney……thrilled the article was helpful. I have not read the recommended book but will certainly look into reading it for more insight. Thank you for your feedback.
Thank you for sharing! I am 23 and I was diagnosed with PCOS at 17yo by my OBGYN. I have been on metformin in addition to a couple other medications. I’m not sure how much metformin has helped me because I actually gained a lot of weight from the time I was diagnosed until I was about 21. But a couple years ago I tried one round of Whole30 and I lost over 10lb. I’m thinking about seeing an endocrinologist and/or a nutritionist (maybe even one that specializes in PCOS) to maybe get a more personalized treatment that works best for me.
Thank you so much for your comment. The endocrinologist helped me so much. That would be a good direction to go.
Thank you so much for all your knowledge and your creativity!! Huge Fan here!
Thank you for this comment!
So great to know I’m not alone in the struggle! Thank you for all your fantastic resources
You are so welcome. You are for sure not alone.
Thank you for writing this.
You are so welcome
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So happy to you enjoyed.Yes, these are the sources I used along with my own experiences and opinions.
Ashley, thank you so much for this post! This gave me the courage to be an advocate for myself and investigate my symptoms. I got diagnosed with PCOS today after years of wondering what was “wrong” with me. I start metformin in the morning! Thank you so much for putting your story out there and being an encouragement to me! 💗
This is so great to hear. I’m happy you were an advocate for yourself and went to get answers. I’m praying Metformin helps you
I have a question! Do you have any resources that you’ve created that specifically talk about foods to eat that are “good” for PCOS/insulin resistance. I am having a really hard time with contradicting information that google and Pinterest are giving me!! Thanks!