Did you know that as many as one in five women has polycystic ovaries, and between five to ten per cent have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which occurs when women who have polycystic ovaries also have additional symptoms – including difficult conceiving. It is one of the main causes of fertility problems for women, but many people are unaware of the syndrome unless they have some personal experience of PCOS.
The symptoms can include irregular periods and ovulation, unwanted facial or body hair, oily skin, acne, thinning hair or hair loss and weight problems which may mean being overweight and having difficulty losing weight. It can also cause depression and mood changes. If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS and want more information, the charity Verity can offer lots of support and advice – check them out at www.verity-pcos.org.uk
If you’ve got polycystic ovary syndrome, a common fertility problem, you may have been told to lose weight or to take up more exercise. Now, a new study from researchers at Penn State College of Medicine in the USA has shown that this advice really can make a difference.
The study found that women who were supported to make lifestyle changes, reducing their calorie intake with a specified diet and taking more exercise, lost significant amounts of weight and improvements in their reproductive health. You can read the study itself here
Many women who lead busy lives end up skipping breakfast, but new research from the University of Tel Aviv has shown that eating a big breakfast can have a positive impact for women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Women with PCOS can produce too much insulin, which can decrease fertility by affecting ovulation, and are often told that losing weight will help balance insulin levels – and cutting out breakfast can seem a good way to deal with this. However, not everyone with PCOS is overweight and this particular study looked at women who fall within the normal weight range. One group were given a high-calorie breakfast, average lunch and low-calorie supper, and the others were given a low-calorie breakfast, average lunch and high-calorie supper – but both groups had the same number of calories in total each day.
The results showed that although neither group had experienced any weight loss or gain, the group who ate a big breakfast saw a drop in their levels of insulin and testosterone – and they had a 50% increase in their ovulation rate!
This isn’t going to be a weight-loss solution, but the research team believe that eating a big breakfast and smaller supper could also have an impact on some of the other symptoms which are often associated with PCOS such as skin problems and excess body hair. You can read more about the research here