Nutrition for Fertility: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is one of the leading causes of infertility among women. It affects nearly 10 percent of women before they hit menopause. In all truth, most women that have PCOS are unaware of it until they start trying to conceive. It is estimated that more than 75 percent of PCOS cases remain undiagnosed.
What are the symptoms?
Although many symptoms of PCOS are unnoticeable, this medical condition can affect a woman’s fertility, menstruation, hormone levels, and physical appearance. Infertility can result from low levels of the hormones necessary to create an egg. If ovulation doesn’t occur, progesterone, a hormone that thickens the lining of the uterus, is not produced. A woman’s cycle will be irregular or absent without progesterone.
Additional warning signs include:

  • PMS or pelvic pain
  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Increased hair growth on face, back or chest
  • Sleep apnea
  • Thinning hair/baldness
  • Dandruff
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Type II Diabetes

Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome often have higher levels of insulin in their blood than normal. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Researchers believe that the overproduction of this hormone causes womens’ bodies to respond by producing excessive amounts of the male hormone called androgen. This makes it difficult for these women to sustain a healthy body weight. That is why proper diet and exercise are so crucial to those who suffer from PCOS. Knowing what to eat and when to limit yourself, along with staying active and positive, can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve PCOS symptoms.
Suggested foods for a PCOS diet:

  • Fresh fruit or unsweetened frozen fruit
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Unprocessed and organic meats, dairy, and fish
  • Non-starchy fresh vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and carrots
  • Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and millet
  • Ezekiel breads!
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • High fiber cereals like shredded wheat and those by Kashi and All Bran
  • Sugar-free or low sugar drinks, yogurt, popsicles, Jello, etc.

Doctors recommend that women who suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome eat five meals each day, instead of three, and eat lighter at each meal, instead of piling their plates at dinner. This will prevent the body from going into fasting mode, which causes the metabolism to become unbalanced. Furthermore, try exercising for 30 minutes, five days a week. This may improve your insulin sensitivity and increase your metabolism, which will help you shed those pounds. You could walk, swim, lift weights or take a class your local fitness center! Find out what works for you in both diet and exercise, and you will be on your way to a healthier, happier life.