A question I get asked frequently by patients is whether their Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is due to their weight gain or whether their weight gain is due to their Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
The answer to both is a definitive maybe and maybe not..
Let’s get into it!
PCOS is one of the common hormonal disorders affecting women of reproductive age with symptoms such as irregular or absent periods, which may in turn lead to difficulties conceiving, as well as symptoms due to high ‘male’ hormones such as acne, excessive hair growth (hirsutism) on the face, chest, back and buttocks and loss of hair from your head.
Women with PCOS may have enlarged ovaries with fluid filled sacs (follicles) surrounding the eggs affecting their ability to function normally.
Long term risks associated with PCOS include an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you’re worried you might have PCOS, make an appointment to see your family doctor to discuss further.
So how does it connect to weight gain?
Well, this is where things get fuzzy..
Insulin resistance is thought to be one of the main mechanisms at play when people develop PCOS.
Insulin resistance means that your body is not using the available insulin normally, the consequence is that your pancreas produces more and more insulin to try and bring your blood sugar down and push it into cells where it can be used.
We know that insulin resistance is seen as people put on weight and it’s the same mechanism that leads to people eventually developing type 2 diabetes.
However, in PCOS, the high insulin levels also lead to the increased production and activity of male hormones (androgen) such as testosterone, leading to the symptoms mentioned above as well as increased abdominal fat distribution!
Ever noticed that men tend to store fat more around their bellies - this is why and abdominal fat is associated with all the nasty diseases such as diabetes and heart disease!
So, as you can see, putting on weight may be contributing to your PCOS and PCOS in turn may be contributing to your weight gain!
Obesity can increase the risk of PCOS and PCOS can increase the risk of obesity!
The exact cause of PCOS remains unclear and there are indeed many women who are not overweight and still have PCOS and vice versa.
There’s likely a genetic component, meaning if many people in your family have PCOS, you may be predisposed and more at risk of developing PCOS but that does not guarantee that you will get PCOS, especially if you are able control factors like your weight, diet and lifestyle!
The good news is that even a modest weight loss of 5% of your body weight can result in significant improvement in symptoms and restore ovulation and fertility for many women!
Do you need to employ any special tactics to lose weight if you have PCOS?
The dynamics responsible for weight loss always remain the same!
It might indeed be harder for you if you have PCOS, thyroid imbalance, poor motivation, depression, a lousy metabolism or any other number of reasons, but it doesn’t mean you can’t!
If you want to do it, you can!
Eat delicious, high volume, high protein, stomach-filling, low-calorie meals like those in our Hyperthermic Cookbook and pair that with an exercise plan that suits your lifestyle and enjoy an immediate improvement in your quality of life.
Heck, if I was able to do this after having half of my thyroid removed, so can you!
Let’s do this friends and we’ll show you how!
Dr. Bobby Stryker