In It Together: Self-Care for Those with PCOS
National PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) Awareness Month is upon us, which serves as a reminder that a reported one in 10 women of childbearing age live with PCOS and should receive the support they need YEAR ROUND. Yes, not just once a year, but September’s heightened awareness is a start. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance and one of the leading causes of infertility in women. It produces many unwanted side effects, such as weight gain, acne, excessive facial or body hair, fatigue, and headaches. Because some of these symptoms affect a woman’s appearance, they can also lead to anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues. If you suffer from PCOS, learning how to potentially control your symptoms and getting the emotional support you need is key to living well.
Recognition of how PCOS operates and what it might look like is also crucial to its awareness. So, a little more on this disorder and how to spot it:
Knowledge is power.
Like all life challenges, it helps to know what you’re dealing with. As you know, PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that causes unwanted side effects. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or lengthy menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs. Also, the exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Early diagnosis of PCOS and treatment along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
What can you expect from the side effects in the here and now? What can you do to reduce their physical and emotional effects on you? What steps can you take to successfully manage the side effects? Education really can equal liberation. Reading up on your diagnosis and asking your doctor lots of questions gives you the information you need to determine how to best handle your PCOS. The more you know, the more power you have to support yourself.
Join a support group.
Communion with others around shared experiences is some of the most ancient medicine there is. We are not meant to suffer alone. Honestly, who can’t relate to the concept of suffering in silence on an occasion. Unsurprisingly, many people living with PCOS find support groups very helpful. There are so many types of symptoms that can, at times, be alienating for any one of us, and women with PCOS frequently report feeling alone in their struggles. This does not have to be true. Getting involved in a support group, in person or online, can be extremely reassuring but also super educational and illuminating. A unique bond often forms amongst women who share similar PCOS experiences.
It’s also a wonderful way to get and share information. And plenty of studies show how being needed and knowing that you’re contributing to someone else’s well-being provides a positive boost to the way you feel about yourself. This positivity can help kick the anxiety and depression that often accompanies PCOS to the curb a bit.
Look at your lifestyle.
Weight gain is an infuriating and heartbreaking part of PCOS for many women. Women with PCOS produce high levels of androgen, which can trigger weight gain – frequently in the abdomen. Insulin resistance, common amongst PCOS patients, makes it particularly challenging to lose the weight. Eliminating as many processed foods from your diet as possible can help. Refined sugar wreaks havoc on your insulin levels. You may also want to consider giving up your morning jolt. Stimulants, like coffee and tea, increase insulin production. A diet rich in high-fiber vegetables, lean protein, and anti-inflammatory foods and spices can be beneficial for weight loss and your overall health.
Daily exercise can also help. Whether it’s a 30-minute walk, a yoga video, or a few extra trips up and down your stairs, a short workout every day can serve as both a metabolism and mood booster. Involve family and friends in your quest for a better lifestyle, everyone will benefit.
No matter how much you’re crushing all of the above, and leaning in hard to a positive outlook, the negative emotions of PCOS are bound to show up from time to time. Don’t feel like you have to handle them on your own. PCOS produces so many physical and emotional issues; it can be overwhelming and lead to profound anxiety and depression. These feelings are to be taken seriously, and you deserve to get the support you need to deal in a healthy way. A therapist can provide you with the tools you need to manage the emotional aspect of this condition. A Reiki practitioner or non-traditional healer can also offer immense relief for some.
Don’t skip the doc.
Regular physical exams are essential for women with PCOS. Unfortunately, PCOS puts women at an increased risk of developing a host of other health issues:
- Some types of cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Regular visits ensure that your doctor can keep an eye on potential problems and treat them before they become serious health issues. Periodic doctor appointments also strengthen your PCOS support network; the more experts you have looking out for you and helping you along your journey to good health, the better. With a positive outlook and strong support network, living well with PCOS is possible.
***Should you suspect you could be suffering from PCOS, If you think PCOS may be affecting your ability to become pregnant, or if you seek additional help on your journey, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Trellis Family