I Have PCOS – Now What?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects about 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. But there’s just one problem. Despite its prevalence, there’s no single test to identify PCOS, so it’s not always easy to get a PCOS diagnosis.
But you did. And now you’re one step closer to managing PCOS. But how? Where do you start? Consider this blog your PCOS checklist – five steps to help you navigate the first leg of your PCOS journey.
1. Find a doctor that specializes in PCOS.
Every healthcare provider has their niche – a particular area of medicine in which they’re especially knowledgeable. For example, if you’re concerned about your heart health, you certainly wouldn’t go to a podiatrist. You’d seek advice from an experienced cardiologist.
The same goes for PCOS. In addition to your OB-GYN, you may need to visit an endocrinologist to help you understand and manage your PCOS. Be sure you choose a provider that you feel comfortable with – someone that listens to your concerns and involves you in your healthcare plan.
2. Educate yourself.
You are your biggest advocate for your health, and knowledge is power. There are so many online resources to help you learn about PCOS, but don’t take advice from just anyone. Look for information from credible sources, like governmental organizations, trusted healthcare organizations, or credentialed PCOS experts (like a doctor or registered dietitian).
Check out these PCOS resources to get you started:
- The National PCOS Association
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
3. Evaluate your lifestyle habits.
Diet, physical activity, and sleep are the three pillars of health – and PCOS management. Take some time to evaluate your lifestyle habits in these three areas to find out if you have some room for improvement.
- Diet. Your diet is simply the kinds of food you eat regularly – it doesn’t have to be restrictive. Focus on filling your plate with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to fuel your body well and help manage PCOS. Need some inspiration next time you hit the grocery store? Check out this blog next.
- Physical activity. Regular exercise helps support a healthy weight, heart and bone health, a strong immune system, and so much more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, plus two days of strength training.
- Sleep. Sleep is just as important as healthy eating and physical activity. It allows your body to rest, recover, and recharge, so you’re ready to take on each new day. Plus, getting enough sleep may even help support healthy hormone levels and a healthy weight, too.
4. Talk with a registered dietitian.
Nutrition information is everywhere – but so is nutrition misinformation. Between friends, family, and the internet, it’s difficult to figure out what’s true and what’s not. You’ll hear things like:
“You can’t eat carbohydrates!”
“Gluten is bad for you!”
“You shouldn’t have dairy if you have PCOS!”
This is where registered dietitians can help.
Registered dietitians are nutrition experts, and some even specialize in PCOS, helping so many women overcome obstacles on their PCOS journey. If you could use some guidance on how to build a balanced diet, develop a healthy relationship with food, and meet your nutrition needs, find a registered dietitian in your area that’s experienced in PCOS management.
And to clear up the misinformation:
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred energy source. Choose carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which are rich in fiber and other vitamins and minerals that keep your body healthy.
If you tolerate gluten, you go girl. There’s no evidence-based reason to get rid of gluten in your diet unless you feel better without it.
You don’t have to eliminate dairy if you enjoy it and tolerate it well, even if you have PCOS. However, research does suggest that full-fat dairy may be better for fertility than low-fat dairy products.
5. Seek support.
There’s an entire community of strong women around the world that are learning to manage PCOS – and you can join them. Support groups provide a space for you to share your experiences with other women who understand and validate your journey. Search for PCOS support groups in your local area or join an online PCOS community.
Although there’s no cure for PCOS, there are certainly ways you can successfully manage it and maintain (or even improve) your quality of life. Now that you know you have PCOS, find a healthcare team you trust, take control of your lifestyle habits, and seek support from others in the PCOS community. You got this.