PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
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The Benefits of working with a PCOS Nutritionist
One of the primary symptoms of PCOS is weight gain. Between 40 and 80% of people with this condition are reportedly overweight and obese women. While a registered dietitian nutritionist can help with weight management, this is not their only goal. There are many other benefits of working with a PCOS nutritionist, some of which are discussed below.
Excessive facial and body hair is one of the more distressing and visible symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome. This abnormal condition, which is known as hirsutism, is triggered by the overproduction of androgens, a class of hormones responsible for male characteristics.
Between 70% and 80% of women with PCOS are affected by this condition. People with hirsutism most commonly experience excess hair growth on their face, neck, chest, back, and toes. Excessive androgen levels can also have the opposite effect on the scalp, leading to female baldness in every 1 and 5 women with PCOS.
While many women with hirsutism rely on shaving, waxing, and laser hair removal to treat hirsutism, a PCOS nutritionist can help you correct the hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS and reduce the amount of circulating androgens in the bloodstream. For instance, birth control pills can help by increasing the level of female hormones while also stemming the production of androgens.
High androgen levels in the body can also lead to acne. Unlike other forms of acne, PCOS-induced acne tends to have lesions that are larger and deeper. PCOS-induced acne also takes a lot longer to go away. Another way to distinguish between PCOS-induced acne and regular acne is to look at where it appears on the body. PCOS acne can usually be found on the jawline, chin, and upper neck.
Unfortunately, PCOS acne typically doesn’t disappear on its own. You typically need to address hormonal imbalances and take other courses of action to remedy this issue. A PCOS nutritionist can help set up a treatment plan that specifically addresses PCOS. A typical treatment plan will include oral contraceptive pills, anti-androgens, as well as acne medications, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinoids.
High body fat can also often make PCOS symptoms worse. Living a healthier lifestyle and losing 5% of your weight can often alleviate issues such as insulin resistance and high levels of androgens in people with PCOS.
PCOS is a common cause of infertility. In women with PCOS, the hormonal imbalance prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. If there are no eggs to be fertilized, then there is no possibility of pregnancy. Because infertility is such a common symptom of PCOS, many women are first diagnosed with this health condition when they are trying to conceive.
With that said, having PCOS does not make it impossible to have kids. You might just need a little extra help during your conception journey. Many women find that losing between 5 and 10 percent of their body weight can help improve hormone regulation and ovulation. As you try to conceive, a PCOS nutritionist can help you lose weight healthily by creating an eating and exercise plan for you to follow.
Type II Diabetes
More than 50% of women with PCOS are diagnosed with type II diabetes by the age of 40. Women with PCOS are more likely to have insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for type II diabetes. Women with PCOS are also more likely to develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
A PCOS nutritionist can help prevent the onset of type II diabetes by performing regular diabetes screenings and monitoring your health. This healthcare professional can also inform you of warning signs to look out for, including fatigue, blurry vision, a frequent need to urinate, increased thirst, increased hunger, patches of dark skin, and numbness in the hands and feet.
If you are already living with type II diabetes, a PCOS nutritionist can also help you live a healthy lifestyle by ensuring you are eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly.
There is evidence to suggest that there is a correlation between PCOS and eating disorders. One study found that the frequency of disordered eating in people with PCOS was over four times higher than the rate of disordered eating behaviors among women without PCOS. Because PCOS is often associated with higher weights and a predisposition to gain weight, it can be easy for women with PCOS to spiral into unhealthy eating patterns and habits.
Rather than frame your weight loss journey around dieting and diet culture, a PCOS nutritionist can instead help women with PCOS develop healthy eating behaviors. A PCOS nutritionist can help you develop a meal plan that incorporates a range of enjoyable foods and an exercise plan that allows you to engage in moderate physical activity for the sake of health rather than weight loss.
Resistance to Exercise
If you are not a huge fan of working out, a PCOS nutritionist can help you develop a manageable exercise plan catered to your health condition. For instance, cardiovascular exercises, such as running, jumping rope, and cycling, are not as beneficial for women with PCOS. Rather, strength training, such as lifting weights or bodyweight-focused exercise, can help improve various PCOS symptoms, including insulin resistance and slow metabolism.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and yoga are also beneficial exercises for women with PCOS. HIIT-style workouts can improve body composition and lower BMI, among other things, whereas yoga plays an important role in stress management.
While regular exercise is important for people with PCOS, you must be careful not to overdo it. Too much exercise can throw your hormones off balance, which can cause weight gain and even more irregular periods. The focus should be on sticking to a sustainable exercise and eating plan.
According to new research, women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are six times more likely to suffer from eating disorders than the general population. These disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. As many as one-third of women with PCOS suffer from binge eating disorder.
If you’re struggling with binge eating, consulting with a nutritionist can be very beneficial. Working with a nutritionist can help you develop a healthier relationship with food and help you make necessary changes to your eating habits. One of the most important ways a nutritionist can help with binge eating disorder is by creating a meal plan for you.
If you struggle with sporadic eating, a meal plan will help structure your daily routine and provide you with a framework for choosing and selecting foods. A registered dietitian can also work through food myths and misconceptions that you might have believed about food, weight, and intake, as well as help you learn about any emotional connections that you might have related to food intake.
Overweight and Pregnant
Women with PCOS have a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy. That said, a PCOS nutritionist can help prevent the onset of gestational diabetes with various strategies. A nutritionist will frequently check your blood sugar levels and recommend certain courses of action depending on how much your blood sugar levels deviate from the norm.
Common pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, cravings, and food aversions can make it difficult to eat a nutritious diet when expecting. A nutritionist can help you manage these symptoms and ensure that you gain a healthy weight during each stage of your pregnancy.