Did you know polycystic ovarian disease and obesity are deeply interlinked and form a vicious cycle that makes it very difficult for a patient to lose weight? In this article, Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker, Bariatric and laparoscopic surgeon surgeon, Saifee Hospital, Apollo Spectra, Namaha and Currae Hospitals, Mumbai explains the relationship between polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and obesity. She also shares some weight loss tips for people with this condition.
What you need to know about PCOS
PCOS is a common hormonal disorder seen in women of reproductive age group. Women with PCOS may have enlarged ovaries that contain multiple small collections of fluid called follicles. They have high levels of male hormones called androgens along with increased insulin resistance and are predisposed to type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Some of the common symptoms associated with PCOS are menstrual irregularities, acne, excessive body hair growth, infertility, insulin resistance (diabetes at times) thinning of scalp hair, etc. Women who suffer from PCOS also find it very difficult to lose weight and tend to suffer from obesity which can in turn lead to other health problems.
PCOS and obesity: It’s a complex relationship
PCOS and obesity form a vicious cycle wherein PCOS leads to obesity and obesity in turn worsens PCOS. Unfortunately, the complex relationship between PCOS and obesity is not understood very clearly. As a result of this, women who suffer from this dual problem face a lot of stigmas in the society.
There are many myths and misconceptions which bolster weight bias and body image issues leading to low self-esteem in many women who suffer from PCOS and obesity. They find themselves being pushed into various weight loss programs and overzealous exercise regimens. When they are unable to lose weight, our society labels them as lazy, inconsistent, a person with low willpower and eventually considers the person herself as the root cause behind her weight gain. Many a times, an underlying health issue like PCOS is completely ignored and the person finds herself trapped in a downward spiral of persistent weight gain, negative body image and low self-esteem.
Seek help from qualified weight loss specialists
The first step towards healing begins with recognizing that there is a problem. Women who have PCOS or have symptoms suggestive of PCOS must see a specialist at the earliest and seek medical help. Weight loss is an integral part of the treatment plan for PCOS, but it is important to recognize that it is more difficult to lose weight for a person suffering from PCOS. Hence help from qualified weight loss specialists may be needed.
Do not self-medicate or fall into the trap of indulging into unsupervised internet-based weight loss programs. Lastly, we are not just our body or its image. While we must respect our body for all that it does for us and we need to take care of it, we must also know that we are much more. We are people with feelings, many other good qualities and capabilities. We are worthy human beings, and our worth is not derived just from the way our body looks.
Follow these vital tips to stay healthy
- Opt for a diet high in fiber and low in sugar. Include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, avoid processed and fatty foods to avoid fluctuation in the blood sugar levels. Take your dietitian’s help regarding what to eat and avoid. Reduce your calorie intake per day as suggested by the doctor or dietician.
- Have small frequent meals every day in order to maintain the recommended blood sugar levels.
- Indulge in moderate exercise for at least 5 days a week at least for 30 to 45 minutes. This can include strength training, running, jogging, swimming, yoga, walking and try to maintain an optimum weight.
- Drink enough water, avoid smoking and alcohol and stay away from any other addictions.
- Maintain a good sleep hygiene and practice mindfulness to keep stress at bay.
Do seek professional help if your weight is not coming under control despite sincere efforts.
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