Women’s Health 12 MIN READ

Understanding and managing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

For most women, getting their periods each month is obvious, like clockwork, give or take a day or two. A large number, however, spend each day wondering if today is the day they finally start menstruating, having missed the previous few times. This leads to a condition called PCOS

Written by Team Ultrahuman

May 11, 2022
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For most women, getting their periods each month is obvious, like clockwork, give or take a day or two. A large number, however, spend each day wondering if today is the day they finally start menstruating, having missed the previous few times. More often than not, this occurs due to a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, widely referred to by its abbreviation, PCOS.


  • There are four main types of PCOS—insulin resistant, post-pill, inflammatory and adrenal,
  • Eating healthy and nutritious meals aided by an expert, pursuing an active lifestyle composed of different kinds of exercises and educating yourself about PCOS are the most powerful recommended treatments for all types of PCOS,
  • Experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day and increasing physical activities when possible.

Being diagnosed with PCOS can be frustrating: your periods are irregular at best, you might experience mood swings and cravings that pull you in opposite directions simultaneously, you are constantly tired and no diet or exercise has made the situation better.

For a lot of us, PCOS is an ongoing battle, and more studies and research are being published to help us understand and effectively manage it. Let’s take a deeper look into what it is and how to best deal with it to live a fulfilling life.

Understand your PCOS type

Identifying your PCOS type

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes ovaries to produce abnormal amounts of androgen, or male sex, hormones. As the name implies, a large number of small fluid-filled sacs called cysts often develop in the ovaries of those affected. PCOS is a frequently under-diagnosed endocrine disorder affecting 1 in 5 women globally. The first step towards managing this is to identify your PCOS type to understand possible treatment options.

PCOS Types And Treatment

4 Types of PCOS

There are four main kinds of PCOS:

1. Insulin resistance PCOS

Insulin resistance is the most common trigger for PCOS. This is the most common type of PCOS, affecting around 70% of people. It happens when our cells become “numb” to the effects of insulin, which causes the pancreas to make more insulin than normal. This type of PCOS comes with struggles with your weight—especially gaining weight around the stomach/abdomen—sugar cravings, as well as symptoms like fatigue or brain fog.

2. Post-pill PCOS

Post-pill PCOS presents in some women after they’ve stopped taking oral contraceptive pills. The pill suppresses ovulation so that you don’t get pregnant. Once off the pill, women experience an increase in androgen production, which causes symptoms such as acne, hair growth on the body, irregular periods and hair loss on the head.

3. Inflammatory PCOS

Chronic inflammation causes a hormone imbalance by suppressing ovulation (so you don’t make progesterone) and increasing the production of testosterone. Symptoms of this type of PCOS include headaches and joint pain, fatigue, skin issues like eczema, and bowel problems like IBS.

4. Adrenal PCOS

This type presents itself as a response to unusual amounts of stress. The adrenal organs are responsible for controlling the stress response, and end up producing another form of androgen as a result of stress, causing symptoms similar to the other types of PCOS.

Other causes of PCOS: Some women present symptoms of PCOS but do not get a diagnosis of the four main types of PCOS. These symptoms are usually caused by vitamin deficiencies, food intolerances, thyroid disease, and malnutrition. There are also women whose trigger is never found, but the treatments, especially lifestyle modifications, remain helpful in keeping the symptoms in check.

General treatments that will help with any type of PCOS

  1. Minimising processed and refined simple sugars.
  2. Minimising inflammatory foods such as gluten and dairy.
  3. Optimising your gut health to keep toxins out of your body, clear your old hormones and keep inflammation low.
  4. Exercising regularly to burn sugar, build muscle, manage stress, and optimise sleep.
  5. Prioritising a consistent daily stress management practice such as meditation, mindfulness, guided imagery, or any version of self-care that speaks to you.
  6. Sleeping well and sleeping enough every night.
pcos food plate

Nine Tips For Nutrition to Manage PCOS

Research recommends a change in lifestyle as the first line of defence in treating PCOS. Women who lost as little as 5-10% of their body weight experienced a significant improvement in ovulation rates. What you eat can make a difference in providing a supportive environment for your body to get to a place of healing and balance.

Focus on the following strategies to manage your PCOS

1. Eat a Balanced Diet

Consuming a well-balanced PCOS diet will help keep your body in a neutral, homeostatic state and allow insulin to function properly by bringing glucose to your cells for energy. This process results in less insulin in your bloodstream, ultimately decreasing androgen production and alleviating your PCOS symptoms.

2. Follow a Routine and Regularize Meal Times

Do not skip meals. Skipping meals can crash your blood sugar levels, leading to food cravings and overindulgence. Keeping a routine will allow your blood sugar levels to stabilize. Stable blood sugar aids in the proper androgen production in your body. Proper androgen production = less severe PCOS symptoms. Some doctors recommend eating smaller, more frequent meals to better regulate blood sugar and establish better habits.

3. Build our Plate
Research recommends making a plate that’s half non-starchy vegetables, one-quarter gluten-free grains, one-quarter lean protein, and a serving of healthy fat.

4. Choose Low-GI foods
Whole grains, fruits, and veggies are low on the glycemic index and can help keep your blood sugar steady.

5. Avoid Food Intolerances
Foods that bother your gastrointestinal tract will increase inflammation in your body, and impairment of your gut microbiome may result in the development of PCOS. This will be different for everyone, but gluten-containing foods, soy and dairy are the most common foods that can trigger this process.

6. Implement a Weight Loss Diet
Research suggests that losing weight is key for all overweight women with PCOS, done by reducing caloric intake while maintaining nutritional values in healthy foods. A registered nutritionist/dietitian specialising in PCOS can teach you strategies to build healthy eating behaviours.

7. Caloric intake Timing
Changing the distribution of caloric intake across meals has been shown to have a beneficial effect on women with PCOS. Eating a breakfast diet (980 kcal breakfast, 640 kcal lunch, and 190 kcal dinner) reduces levels of testosterone, glucose, and insulin (eating most of your calories earlier in the day has been shown to improve insulin function). Weight loss and reduction in waist size have also been observed, along with an increased ovulation rate in women.

8. Decrease AGEs
Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs) are higher in women with PCOS. AGEs are formed when glucose binds with proteins and are associated with degenerative diseases and ageing. Reducing AGEs reduces insulin levels in women with PCOS. Avoiding smoking, foods that are animal-derived or processed and modes of high-heat cooking such as grilling, searing, roasting, etc. can reduce AGEs.

9. Nutritional Supplements
In a small study involving 100 infertile women with PCOS, administering Metformin, which is a commonly used drug to treat PCOS, together with vitamin D and calcium supplements showed a reduction in BMI and menstrual irregularities. Improvements in weight, follicle maturation, and reduction in androgen levels were also observed. Magnesium supplements provide benefits such as reducing insulin resistance and inflammation and providing more restful sleep. Chromium intake reduces insulin resistance and boosts ovulation as well as helps regularise menstruation.

Fish oil, which is full of omega-3, is a highly recommended supplement for those with PCOS for reducing insulin resistance and cholesterol. Lowered testosterone levels and regularising of menstrual cycles are the other benefits associated with taking omega-3. Supplements and sources of oily fish, like salmon, can help reduce testosterone levels.

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Understanding What Approach Works for PCOS

While there are many diets that promote different kinds of results, a majority focused on weight loss, not all of them might help alleviate PCOS. L et’s see which ones are relatively safer and which are complete no-g0s.

1. Going dairy-free, Gluten-free or Soy-free

People who suffer from inflammation caused by lactose, gluten or soy will find advantages in following dairy-free, gluten-free, or soy-free PCOS diets. However, in regards to a PCOS diet, no scientific data currently exists to support restricting or avoiding entire food groups or specific items to improve symptoms.

2.Going Vegan

Vegan diets consist of eating grains, vegetables and fruits. If following a vegan diet for PCOS symptom management is an option for you, it is imperative to include high-quality carbohydrates that do not exceed 45% of your daily food intake. Because vegan diets consist of vitamin- and mineral-rich whole foods, they can be tremendously useful in alleviating PCOS symptoms. Research has shown that following a proper vegan diet can improve ovulation, regulate menstruation, and reduce the risk for future conditions associated with PCOS.

3.Trying the Keto Diet

The ketogenic diet is a special high-fat, low carbohydrate diet designed to control seizures in individuals diagnosed with epilepsy. In recent pop culture, the keto diet is viewed as a quick weight loss solution. Because the keto diet is extremely strict and nutritionally unbalanced it is not recommended for PCOS management.

4.Trying Intermittent Fasting for PCOS

Intermittent fasting is not recommended for long-term PCOS relief. If you have PCOS, it is very important to consume multiple small meals throughout the day, allowing your insulin levels to self-regulate and remain balanced. If you are intermittent fasting, your large meals cause hyperinsulinemia (excess insulin in the blood), increasing androgen production and leading to PCOS.

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Five Exercises for PCOS [Polycystic Ovary Syndrome]

Exercising is recommended for everyone, despite their age, gender or medical conditions. Let’s find out which exercises work best specifically for those with PCOS.

1. Steady-state Cardiovascular Workouts

Good for reducing insulin resistance, boosting fertility, and stabilising mood, a cardio workout gets your heart pumping. Aerobic exercises in this category include walking, riding a bicycle, dancing or taking an aerobics class.

2. HIIT Workouts
Good for increasing cardiovascular fitness and decreasing waist circumference, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts involve balancing intense exercise bursts with rest intervals.

Typical exercises in a HIIT workout include burpees, tuck jumps and mountain climbers. A study published found that women with obesity reported greater enjoyment of HIIT exercises compared to those who engaged in continuous moderate to vigorous exercise.

Enjoyment of exercise is an important factor for sticking with a routine long-term.

3. Interval Training
Interval training is a way to exercise at different intensity levels, but not necessarily at the maximum heart rate level achieved with HIIT. This training type often involves doing different exercises in the same session to keep your heart rate up.

4. Mind-body Exercises
Studies show that women with PCOS have an enhanced bodily response to stress and distress. Mind-body exercises like yoga, Pilates, and tai chi can not only help burn calories but also reduce stress levels that worsen your PCOS symptoms.

5. Strength training
Strength training involves using resistance bands, weights, or body weight to build muscle, good for reducing insulin resistance, increasing metabolic rate, and improving body composition (more muscle and less fat tissue). This training type can help you build healthy muscles and bones. Increasing your muscle mass could help you burn more calories at rest, helping you maintain a healthy weight. Experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day and increasing physical activities when possible.

Some of the ways you can incorporate exercise in your life include

  1. Create an interval training session, where you set up about six stations and exercise at each for about one to two minutes at a time. Exercises could include squats, jumping jacks, lunges, bicep curls and crunches, etc.
  2. Walking for 30 to 45 minutes a day on a treadmill or outdoors.
  3. Taking an aerobics class. Exercises include stepping, dancing, boxing, spinning, and more.
  4. Taking a HIIT class.
  5. Practising yoga, Pilates, or tai chi.

If boredom is a factor in your commitment to an exercise routine, utilise a combination of these exercise types to keep things interesting.

pcos understand manage

Effects of PCOS on Your Mental Health

PCOS is not an easy diagnosis to live with. It is a chronic condition and its manifestations are hard to ignore. Many women report feeling a lack of control over their body, especially while dealing with infertility-related issues caused by PCOS. A study has identified that irregularities in menstrual cycles of women with PCOS were mainly responsible for psychiatric problems. Weight gain and unwanted body/facial hair also caused distress and created a feeling of being perceived as unfeminine.

There is a higher prevalence of anxiety and depression among women with PCOS. Anxiety is defined as a feeling of nervousness, fear, or worry that something negative is about to happen. It prevents those affected from having a normal life and can require treatment. Depression is a serious condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts. It is characterised by extreme negative thoughts and feelings. When depression interferes with basic activities like eating and sleeping, it makes functioning on a day-to-day level very challenging.

Both the apparent and hidden features of PCOS lead to a feeling of stigmatisation. Women with PCOS feel unattractive, almost as if they have lost their womanhood. Anxiety is associated with infertility and androgenic alopecia or male-pattern hair loss, while acne was one of the symptoms that brought on depression. Research is ongoing in many areas related to the impact of PCOS on mental and emotional health but it is clear that this complex disorder with its many symptoms has wide-ranging effects on mental wellbeing.


PCOS is a common hormonal disorder. There are four main types of PCOS—insulin resistant, post-pill, inflammatory and adrenal—and the most powerful recommended treatments for all types of PCOS are lifestyle modifications. Eating healthy and nutritious meals aided by an expert, pursuing an active lifestyle composed of different kinds of exercises and educating yourself about PCOS helps enormously. It is equally important to be aware of shifts in your emotional and mental wellbeing while suffering from PCOS and ask for help when dealing with anxiety, depression or mood swings. It is imperative to remember that PCOS will not rule your life and that making a difference by following a few important steps is both possible and advisable.

Disclaimer:The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns and before undertaking a new.


  1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  2. Weight loss before fertility treatment may improve pregnancy odds for women with PCOS
  3. Dietary composition in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome
  4. Effects of caloric intake timing on insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in lean women with polycystic ovary syndrome
  5. Impact of dietary modification of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) on the hormonal and metabolic profile of women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

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