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Women's Wellness

Can These Home Remedies Manage PCOS Symptoms? Research Says Yes

Even if it cannot be cured, PCOS is manageable with the right treatment and lifestyle. According to experts, you can do (and avoid) certain things at home to keep your PCOS symptoms under control.

By Debashruti Banerjee
18 Jan 2022

As per recent surveys, one in five women in India suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a lifelong condition that plays havoc with one's insulin resistance and disrupts hormone regulation. Common symptoms of PCOS include (but aren’t limited to) irregular and heavy periods, follicles or small cysts in the ovaries, high levels of the male hormone androgen (which may trigger acne), sudden and persistent weight gain (due to body's failure to metabolise blood sugar properly), hirsutism or excessive body hair, hyperpigmentation and skin tags and fertility issues or trouble getting pregnant.

According to a 2021 paper in BMC Endocrine Disorders, PCOS can lead to reproductive, psychological and metabolic issues including higher risk of anxiety, depression, type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease, which can be managed with a “multidisciplinary lifestyle interventions, comprising of dietary, exercise and behavioural therapies”. Currently, the endocrine condition has no cure and symptoms may persist even after menopause. Even so, it is reassuring that modern medicine and treatment allows a PCOS patient to manage their symptoms. As the symptoms vary from person to person, treatment methods are specifically curated to each patient's needs as well. However, common modes of PCOS treatment include birth control and medication to prevent or control diabetes and cholesterol.

According to Mumbai-based dietician and naturopathy practitioner Charmaine D'Souza, dietary and lifestyle changes are important tools in natural treatment for PCOS (along with your usual prescriptions). Reducing the intake of inflammatory foods and maintaining a healthy lifestyle (proper rest, activity and hydration) can definitely keep your symptoms from exacerbating. Here are some simple and effective things you can do for PCOS treatment at home, though always after consultation with and approval from your doctor.

 

Related story:Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome—Traits, Types and Treatment

 

Foods to eat or avoid if you have PCOS

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet: According to a 2019 paper in the Clinical Medicine Insights: Reproductive Health journal, several studies have found that people with PCOS have elevated levels of C-reactive Protein (CRP), which indicates PCOS to be an inflammatory disease. Hence, anti-inflammatory foods like berries, turmeric, fatty fish, green vegetables, tomatoes etc are great choices for a PCOS. "Herbs like fenugreek or methi sprouts, shatavari and ashwagandha are also very beneficial," says D'Souza.
  • Opt for foods with low-glycemic index: Since PCOS loves to mess with your body's insulin resistance, consuming foods with a low glycemic index (causing lower elevation in blood sugar) can prevent insulin spikes. Some of the best low glycemic foods are fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, dairy, dark chocolate (with more than 70 percent cocoa) etc.
  • Avoid ultra-processed foods: To prevent inflammation and worsening of symptoms, you must moderate and reduce your intake of tinned, canned and packaged foods with high sugar, salt and preservative content. However you must consult with your doctor before completely depriving yourself of a food group.

 

Related story: Why You Should Consider Taking Myo-Inositol for PCOS—According to an OB-GYN

 

Lifestyle changes to reduce PCOS symptoms

  1. Get enough sleep: One of the biggest consequences of PCOS is fatigue. A 2018 paper published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that “sleep modification can be effective in neurohormonal regulation and management of PCOS. Poor sleep quality is associated with an increased risk of obesity and insulin resistance which plays a key role in PCOS”. Hence, "you must ensure sufficient and good quality sleep between 10 at night and 6 in the morning," recommends D'Souza.
  2. Tank up on water: Proper hydration is a rule of thumb for anyone, and its benefits are not excluded in PCOS. Daily intake of water can ensure healthy metabolism, temperature regulation and reduce the risk of headaches, nausea, dry skin and hair, lethargy and more. We get water from various sources like juices, tea/coffee, soda, fruits and vegetables etc. However, to minimise a blood sugar spike, people with PCOS must try to reduce the intake of processed drinks. If you’re bored of plain water, you can try adding fruit slices in them to add a dash of flavour.
  3. Stay active: Apart from diet, staying active is another good way to control PCOS symptoms. There is no one way of exercise that's perfect for PCOS, so you can try brisk walking, cycling, yoga. Make sure to talk to your doctor before committing to an extremely intensive routine. Daily activity will not only reduce the risk of obesity, it can also help in bowel regularity and reduce stress levels that are associated with PCOS. A 2017 study in the Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine notes that exercise can improve ovulation “and quality of life in PCOS patients through inducing hormonal changes of testosterone, androstenedione, combating obesity, metabolic syndrome, reducing inflammatory markers, and increasing immunity”. If you're looking for an easy workout to start, try this one.

 

Related story: How To Manage PCOS With Diet And Exercise

 

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