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PCOS: Unfolding some barriers

PCOS is a widespread but terrible syndrome that affects about 10% of all women. Simply put, it is a complex anomaly of hormones, namely androgens. The concentration of androgen is higher in women. That being said, androgen is a male sexual hormone present in minimal amounts in females. The term “polycystic ovarian syndrome” refers to the development of many cysts in the ovaries. Some women with this disorder get cysts, but some women with the disease don’t.

Nowadays, it has become so relevant that 2 out of 5 women suffer from either PCOS or PCOD. People use these 2 words interchangeably without knowing their depths. Let me tell you, there are nuances between the words used. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and PCOD are two different conditions with similar symptoms but different causes. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that happens when the ovaries make more androgen than they should. In polycystic ovary disease (PCOD), the ovaries start making immature eggs, which can cause hormonal imbalances and swollen ovaries. Yet, unlike PCOD, these cysts won’t burst out of the ovaries but instead will accumulate there.

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There is currently no cure for PCOS. There are some self-care techniques that women follow while experiencing the symptoms. Changing your lifestyle and taking nutritional supplements may help you deal with these causes and ease your symptoms. Yet, there is currently no foolproof treatment.

This topic is highly discussed yet often misunderstood, even by several healthcare professionals. The warnings about PCOS are widely known and discussed. However, it is important to shed light on the root cause and also dispel some answers that are prevalent.

We all must have heard that PCOS leads to excessive weight gain.  

What are the causes of PCOS?

Scientifically, no one knows the exact cause of this complex syndrome. There are various secondary causes due to some underlying health issues.

Hormonal Imbalance

Every reproductive disorder is a result of extreme hormonal imbalance. When we talk about hormonal imbalance, we mean raised levels of testosterone. Levels of the luteinizing hormone are also high. The reason for these hormonal changes is unclear.

Some have speculated that a malfunction in the ovary, another hormone-producing gland, could be the source of the problem.

Insulin resistance

The pancreas also secretes the hormone insulin. Insulin keeps the body’s sugar level in check. Insulin resistance occurs when cells fail to respond to insulin. Insulin resistance makes it harder to ovulate because it makes the ovaries make too much testosterone. This makes the follicles, the sacs in the ovaries, grow slower.

It is also in your genes

It is quite common to understand that PCOS runs in families. If your mother or aunt has PCOS, you are more likely to get it too. Even though the genes that cause this condition haven’t been found yet, research is still going on.

What does a PCOS belly look like?

PCOS symptoms are as varied as those of any other syndrome. Abdominal weight gain, also known as the “PCOS belly,” is a typical symptom. The weight gain is due to higher levels of androgens and insulin resistance, which lead to fat storage in our bodies. The PCOS belly is connected to adipose tissue in the body, and PCOS has molecules that cause inflammation.

PCOS belly, i.e., weight gain, is different from other weight gains. The belly that comes with PCOS can cause a lot of pain, anxiety, and even serious health problems like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

How to look out for a PCOS belly?

It’s possible that you’re carrying around some unnecessary pounds. This type of weight gain is around the midsection. It makes you prone to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance.

Women with PCOS frequently complain of looking like “spare tyres,” with the majority of their body fat concentrated around the waist. Central obesity is a hallmark of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In addition, hirsutism—the development of extra hair on the face, chest, and back—can occur in women with PCOS.

How to treat PCOS?

When we talk about curing, we want to reduce the intensity of the symptoms. Here, weight gain, acne, and facial hair are the major symptoms that can be controlled. Apart from that, underlying health conditions and physical discomfort are also threats.

Understand the link between hormones and inflammation. Working on these imbalances will help reduce the inflammation and eventually aid in weight loss. As far as we know, there is no cure for this syndrome. But there are definitely major directives to follow to mitigate the situation.

According to ICD-10 data, women who have polycystic ovary syndrome are more likely to develop:

  • diabetes,
  • metabolic syndrome,
  • cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.

Medications can help alleviate the signs and symptoms.

Focus on wholesome foods

You should consume a nutrient-rich diet to meet the macronutrient requirements. If you’re not sure, you might want to talk to a trained nutritionist who can help you take a closer look.

Consider reducing alcohol consumption.

Alcohol consumption has a detrimental effect on GI motility. It is said to have a negative effect on insulin resistance as well as an increase in estrogen circulation. Alcohol may have a negative impact on how the body processes estrogen.

Research shows that women who drink more alcohol are more likely to get endometrial and breast cancer, possibly because of changes in estrogen.

Try to reduce your caffeine intake

Now, it is understandable that PCOS also has an effect on your energy levels. Resorting to caffeine for energy may seem like a nice way to go. But little did we know, caffeine has the ability to affect the perception of energy levels. It does not provide fuel for energy production or stimulate ATP synthesis.

Even cortisol reacts to caffeine. In PCOS, cortisol levels are abnormally high. Research on the causal relationship is ongoing at this time.

Practicing the right type of exercise

Yes, I agree that you need to lose weight. But that doesn’t entail enrolling in a rigorous exercise regime. It is true that too much of anything can be harmful. Here we are talking about the balance of diet and exercise that is required to maintain a healthy life with reduced PCOS symptoms.

It’s up to you to figure out what works best for you, as this is a matter of opinion. Try the trial-and-error method. There is no harm in trying various exercises until you find the right one. Do not overdo it. When done right, exercise can help people with PCOS lose weight and may also help them keep their periods regular. Women with PCOS should exercise for at least 30 minutes daily.

You want to start strength training and develop the core. This may depend on individual preferences. Some exercises include:

  1. Flexibility training
  2. Cardio
  3. Strength or resistance training
  4. Mindful or effective training like yoga, walking, and jogging.
  1. Manage stress: Constant mental strain might make the condition worse. Hence, it is important to indulge in stress management techniques like yoga and meditation to channel energy levels.
  2. Medications or supplements: Some of the symptoms of PCOS can be managed with the help of medicines or supplements.

For instance, some healthcare professionals recommend medicines like: 

        Metformin: To increase insulin resistance

       Vitamin D supplements: Vitamin D supplements can reduce insulin resistance and reduce other PCOS symptoms.

  1. Hormonal Treatment: Birth control pills can help regulate the menstrual cycle effectively. It will eventually reduce androgen levels and improve your weight. Get your doctor’s opinion on the benefits and risks of hormone replacement treatment.
  2. Adequate sleep: Poor sleep can again contribute to weight gain, hormonal imbalance, etc. Try to aim for at least 7–9 hours of sleep every night. You should plan a healthy sleep schedule and try to maintain it.

Answering some questions

How to lose weight in PCOS?

  • Reduce carbohydrate intake.
  • Consumption of enough fiber
  • Eat healthy fats
  • Practice mindful eating
  • Practice proper weight loss regime
  • Limit processed foods and sugar 

What are the initial signs of PCOS?

  • Irregular or no period at all.
  • Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) on the face, chest, and back.
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant (irregular ovulation or no ovulation)
  • Significant weight gain
  • Thinning hair and hair loss.
  • acne, dark patches of skin in folds and creases,
  • depression,
  • inappropriate male features, loss of scalp hair, oily skin, or unwanted hair

Can you get pregnant with PCOS?

Even if you have PCOS, that doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant. PCOS prevents ovulation, which is necessary for pregnancy. Therefore, you can get pregnant naturally or in other ways. Only the onset of action may be delayed, and you’d have to rely on supplementary methods.

Endometriosis vs PCOS

Both disorders affect women of reproductive age. Both cause menstrual problems, which lead to heavy bleeding and pregnancy irregularities. Endometriosis is linked with estrogen levels, and PCOS is linked with androgens.

Moreover, both circumstances might exist simultaneously. The resulting symptoms and therapies are different for each of the disorders.


PCOS is a very common disorder, with PCOS belly as its common symptom. All PCOS sufferers have complained about weight gain and other symptoms. It gets very difficult and painful to manage and bear the symptoms. Some cosmetic treatments, like laser hair removal and electrolysis, can help you feel better about how you look. If you’re not feeling well, consult your doctor about treatment options.

Also, the type of treatment plan depends on whether you want to get pregnant or not. You can reduce the symptoms of PCOS and reach your weight loss goals if you eat well, work out regularly, deal with stress, get enough sleep, and talk to your doctor.