If you’ve been following our series on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), you’ll know not only what PCOS is, but also how you can improve your symptoms with dietary changes. But what lifestyle changes can you make to better manage your PCOS?
Here are some simple and realistic lifestyle hacks that should make PCOS less of a burden in your life. In truth, they will all improve your overall health and wellbeing regardless of whether you have PCOS – but those with this hormone imbalance need to follow this advice with extra caution!
Exercise for PCOS
Anyone will tell you that exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight. But did you know that too much exercise can disrupt your hormones? For instance, too much cardio can actually increase your testosterone levels – something that ladies with PCOS already struggle with naturally. But don’t be too quick to cancel that gym membership! Gentle, low-impact exercises like yoga, belly dancing, swimming, or pilates can be practised for longer durations, as well as a moderate amount higher impact of cardio such as joggingor aerobics may help improve symptoms of PCOS such as weight gain, bloating, depression, and irritability, without destabilising your hormones further.
Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight can help decrease insulin resistance, regulate your periods and reduce your risk of conditions associated with PCOS.
Still stuck indoors? Check out our at-home workout ideas here.
Sleep your PCOS symptoms away
Sleep affects your stress levels and helps regulate cortisol to balance your hormones. But sleep disturbances are twice as common for women with PCOS.
These disorders could include daytime fatigue, as well as insomnia once the night finally comes around. As such, it may seem a little crass to tell those who likely already struggle to sleep that this is what they should do to manage their symptoms. However, you can read more about sleep hygiene and busting insomnia here as a starting point. Trouble sleeping is tragically common after all, and this could be your first step to overcoming PCOS with your lifestyle alone!
Here’s another tip that you may not like to hear – but reducing stress equates to reducing the stress hormone, cortisol. And of course, since this hormone is likely too high – especaially if you have PCOS. Many of the strategies mentioned above, such as gebtle exercise, getting enough sleep, and the dietrary changes mentioned in the last article, can contribute to lower stress levels. Taking walks outside and creating space in your life for relaxation and self-care can also reduce how stressed you feel. So make this a priority in your life! You will reap the benefitts not only in terms of reducing your PCOS symptoms, but also in all areas of your life!
Avoid Endocrine Disruptors
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals or ingredients that interfere with or block your body’s natural hormonal reactions. That’s right – this is not good news for anybody – but can be even more serious if you already have a hormonal condition such as PCOS. Your body is already trying hard enough to maintain hormone harmony – don’t needlessly throw a spanner into the works!
Some endocrine disruptors mimic either female or male sex hormones, causing confusion in your reproductive system. This can increase your risk of PCOS symptoms. Some studies even suggest that the hormonal effects of such chemicals could be behind the developed world’s increasing rates of premature puberty and breast cancer. So these are certainly best to avoid exposure or consumption of these when at all possible.
They’re reportedly often found in canned foods, soaps, and makeup. Common endocrine disruptors include:
- Dioxins (found in dairy products, meat, fish and shellfish)
- Phthalates (found in some cosmetics, detergents, packaging, and pharmaceuticals)
- Pesticides (found on non-.organic produce)
- BPA (found in plastic bottles, tupperwares and cups)
- Glycol ethers (found in inks and dyes, enamels, paints and dry cleaning agents)
Acupuncture for PCOS
The ancient Chinese art of accupuncture is growing in popularisty in the West for various reasons – fromchronic pain, to anxiety to insomnia – but it is now becoming a go-to option for those with hormonal imbalances. Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles through the skin at strategic pressure points around the body. Increasingly, it is being used for overall wellness, including stress management.Indeed, there’s enough research to make a case for acupuncture as an alternative treatment for PCOS. But how does it work?Acupuncture may help PCOS by:
- Increasing blood flow to your ovaries
- Reducing stresss hormone (cortisol) levels
- Helping with weight management
- Improving insulin sensitivity
PCOS and Your Lifestyle: The Bottom Line
PCOS can be a difficult disorder to live with. But the fun doesn’t all have to stop at the diagnosis. Unlike other disorders, you don’t actually have anything missing or any fixed problem – but rather an imbalance of inflammation and hormones thgat comes and goes like waves. As such, you can certainly be positive about your ability to manage those waves with these lifestyle swaps, as well as the dietary changes discussed earlier.
So much of our overall health and wellbeing is affected by how we treat our bodies and minds – whether we like to hear it or not! But if you have PCOS then this should come as good news, as you can rest assured that you can get a handle on this thing and improve your symtoms, even if things are looking prettty bleak right now.
Do you have PCOS? Have you found that any of the above lifestyle hacks work for you? Let us know in the comments!