Are there any causes for PCOS?
The exact cause for this condition is yet not known, however, some researchers believe its relation to genetics.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
PCOS is most often diagnosed in teen years, when young women experience irregular and unpredictable periods. Further, to diagnose this doctors take some blood tests samples and check hormone levels. They may also order an ultrasound of pelvis, ovaries and uterus.
Do woman with PCOS have a specific body fat distribution?
Women with PCOS often gain weight around their waists. We often notice more fat around the mid-waist with thin legs. This form of body fat distribution can also be associated with the development of diabetes and heart disease later in life. Therefore, regular blood tests are recommended.
However, some women with PCOS can present above symptoms, whilst others may have no symptoms at all.
What are current treatments for PCOS?
Women with PCOS need to look after themselves from an early age. They should have a thorough advise on diet and exercise. Losing weight has assisted many women resolve their symptoms. However, some doctor prescribe contraceptive pills. These pills regulates hormones and can be excellent in managing irregular periods. If there is an early sign of diabetes, it is treated by doctors accordingly. Some doctors also anti-androgenic medications to manage hormones related to high male hormones like increased body and facial hair, acne etc.
How can I change my lifestyle before conception?
We all know a healthy lifestyle is recommended for pregnancy. A child’s health is influenced by his parents lifestyle habits, before they are even conceived.
Things to consider:
- Weight Check: Monitor your weight. Losing upto 5-10% of your weight can improve fertility and reduce health risks. Aim to lose 0.5 kgs per week.
- Optimise your eating habits. It’s not just the amount you eat, but what you choose to eat that counts. Eating well prior to conception can improve fertility and ensure that your nutritional stores are at optimum levels when you fall pregnant as well as ensuring your baby gets all the nutrients he or she needs in their first few weeks if life.
- Get moving. Exercising regularly before you fall pregnant has been shown to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy) which is more common in women with PCOS. One study found that women who were inactive prior to pregnancy were almost 8 times more likely to develop GDM compared to more active women. Being fit will also help your body cope with the extra demands of pregnancy.
- Supplement safely. The NHMRC recommend that all women who are trying to conceive take a folic acid supplement providing 500 micrograms per day (more if you are at higher risk) and an iodine supplement providing 150 micrograms per day. These nutrients are particularly important for your baby’s development and taking folate has been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida. The evidence for other supplements is lacking but if you do take them it is best to choose a pre-natal or pregnancy multivitamin & mineral. Other supplements, including herbal preparations, may not be safe in pregnancy.
- Avoid or limit alcohol. Excessive alcohol intake can affect both male and female fertility, and during pregnancy can harm your unborn baby and increase the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. Since you won’t know you are pregnant in the first few weeks, when your baby’s organs are already starting to form, it is best to avoid alcohol when you are trying to conceive. While no amount of alcohol is safe in pregnancy, it is particularly important to avoid binge drinking.
- Cut down on caffeine. A moderate intake of caffeine should not affect fertility but too much caffeine during pregnancy may increase your chances of having a miscarriage, premature birth or a low birthweight baby. If you are a big consumer of caffeine, start cutting down as soon as you begin trying to conceive. Remember that coffee isn’t the only source of caffeine – it is also found in tea, cola drinks, energy drinks and chocolate.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking can reduce fertility in both males and females and pregnant women who smoke have a higher risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, premature birth and stillbirth. Babies born to smoking mothers also have a greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It’s important that your partner quits too – one study found that children of non-smoking women whose partners smoked prior to their conception had a higher risk of childhood cancer and exposure to second-hand smoke from you partner can also increase the risk of SIDS and having a low birth weight baby.