Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS for short), is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age.
Exercise is the key to its management.
PCOS basically causes an imbalance of female hormones which cause:
- Reduced ovulation
- Irregular periods
- Can cause cysts on the ovaries
- Abdominal obesity
- Increased male sex hormones (testosterone and androstenedione)
Generally PCOS is found when women are attempting to have a child, and are having difficulty getting pregnant, as it can largely be missed (especially if you are on the pill – as the pill’s ability to regulate hormones often masks the symptoms of PCOS).
PCOS not only causes infertility issues, however it is also closely linked to metabolic disorders, causing:
- Increased insulin and insulin resistance (pre diabetes)
- Elevated cholesterol
- Cardiovascular disease
The actual cause of PCOS is not clear – however insulin issues and obesity further increases the effects of metabolic disease and PCOS – creating a snow ball effect!
Insulin resistance (one of the affects of PCOS) is global. It causes the ovary cells that are insulin resistive to make more male hormones (further impacting PCOS), and increased fatigue and reduced muscular function – as muscles aren’t getting enough fuel (glucose). Less movement from fatigue = increased body fat.
Obesity creates more insulin resistance, which leads to the aforementioned male hormones, and more weight gain.
Its a vicious cycle.
Exercise is the best form of management of PCOS as it:
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Reduces excess insulin
- Decreases body fat (which in turn also improves insulin levels)
- Improves menstural cycles and ovulation (in about 50% of PCOS sufferers)
- Improves cholesterol
- Increases cardiovascular health and function
- Reduces risk of diabetes
- Improves energy and reduces fatigue
How to exercise for PCOS
20-60mins of intervals – moderate to high intensity
30-60mins continuous moderate activity
Can be any type of movement – just get your heart rate up (dancing, exercise classes, walking, cycling, swimming etc – whatever you enjoy!)
PCOS can be a challenging thing to manage, however with the right support from your doctor, endocrinologist, and/or obstetrician – and a healthy dose of exercise – you CAN take control. We have two beautiful children to prove it!