PCOS… what is it and can diet really help??

PCOS is the acronym for polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is a condition causing hormonal imbalance, which prevents the ovaries from releasing an egg each month; resulting in tiny, cyst-like formations on the ovaries. There is a fair amount of observational studies showing that women with PCOS are more likely to experience chronic diseases compared to women in the general population.

PCOS affects ~12% of Australian women at a child bearing age, and diet is a major part in managing PCOS. However, no current studies have shown any significant benefits of one type of diet over another.

However, it has been shown that weight loss can restore ovulation, increase fertility and improve many of the symptoms of PCOS. Clinical trials have shown that 5 -10% weight loss can improve the following:

• serum lipids

• serum testosterone and sex-hormone binding globulin

• glucose tolerance

• fasting insulin

• hirsutism

• ovulation and menstrual cycle regularity

The combination of lifestyle/diet management and exercise have shown positive outcomes in prevention of weight gain or assist in stimulating weight loss for women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Seeing an accredited practising dietitian (APD) can help guide you to the right and safe way of losing weight to help manage PCOS.