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PCOS: Meaning, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Diet routine, and Exercise

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects a significant proportion of women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles, as well as high levels of the male hormone androgen. The ovaries may form several little collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to release eggs regularly.

The exact cause of PCOS is not known. Early detection and treatment, as well as weight loss, can help to lower the risk of long-term problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. According to a study by the PCOS Society, one in every ten women in India has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It is also unfortunate that many are unaware they have the condition. According to a report by Futterweit, 50-75%.

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PCOS signs and symptoms usually appear around the time of your first period. It can also develop later due to substantial weight gain. 

  1. Irregular periods: The most prevalent symptom of PCOS is infrequent, irregular, or extended menstrual periods. For instance, you might have less than nine periods per year, a period interval of more than 35 days, or particularly heavy periods.
  2. Excess Androgen: Physical symptoms of elevated male hormone levels include increased face and body hair (hirsutism), severe acne, and male-pattern baldness.
  3. Polycystic Ovaries: It’s possible that your ovaries are larger, with follicles around the eggs. As a result, the ovaries may stop working properly


There is no definite test to diagnose PCOS. Your doctor will most likely begin by going through your medical history, including your menstrual cycles and weight fluctuations. Excess hair growth, insulin resistance, and acne will all be checked during a physical checkup.

Your doctor might then recommend:

  1. A Pelvic Examine: The doctor examines your reproductive organs visually and manually for masses, growths, or other abnormalities.
  2. Blood Tests: Hormone levels may be measured by analysing your blood. This test can rule out the possibility of PCOS-like menstrual irregularities or androgen excess. Additional blood tests to assess glucose tolerance and fasting cholesterol and triglyceride levels may be required.
  3. Ultrasounds: Your doctor examines the appearance of your ovaries as well as the thickness of the uterine lining. A transducer (wand-like instrument) is inserted into your vaginal canal (transvaginal ultrasound). The transducer emits sound waves, which are translated into visuals on a computer screen.


Insulin levels are typically reported to be higher than normal in patients with PCOS. The hormone insulin is produced in the pancreas. It aids the body’s cells in converting sugar (glucose) into energy.

If you don’t produce enough insulin, your blood sugar levels may rise. This can also happen if you have insulin resistance, which means you are unable to efficiently use the insulin you make.

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If you have insulin resistance, your body may try to maintain your blood sugar levels normal by pumping out a lot of insulin. Insulin resistance causes your ovaries to create more androgens, such as testosterone.

A greater body mass index might also contribute to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance makes losing weight difficult, which is why PCOS patients usually have this issue.

Insulin resistance, and hence weight loss, can be exacerbated by a diet high in refined carbohydrates, such as starchy and sugary foods.

Hence, to combat PCOS it is imperative to have a healthy and balanced diet rich in fibre foods. By slowing digestion and lowering the blood sugar effect, high fibre foods can help battle insulin resistance. This could be advantageous to PCOS sufferers.

A few examples of high fibre foods include cruciferous vegetables like bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, turnips etc. Besides these vegetables, beans and lentils, almonds, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin are rich sources of fibre.

Although lean protein sources such as tofu, chicken, and fish lack fibre, they are very filling and are a nutritious dietary alternative for people diagnosed with PCOS. 

Apart from these food items, people with PCOS should avoid eating foods rich in refined carbohydrates like white bread, muffins, breakfast pastries, sugary desserts, and anything with white flour.

Sugar is a carbohydrate that should be avoided.  On a PCOS diet, you should avoid sugary drinks like soda and juice, as well as inflammatory foods like fries, margarine, and red or processed meats. However, before eliminating a variety of foods from your diet, consult your doctor. They might suggest an eating plan that can cater to your specific needs.


Along with a healthy diet, people with PCOS should indulge in a variety of physical activities to reduce the probability of getting heart-related ailments and diabetes. A few exercises you can indulge in are- 

  1. Cardio Exercises

Cardio exercises like brisk walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming. They help with PCOS by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Weight management, depression and anxiety, as well as reducing the frequency of menstrual cycles and ovulation, can all benefit from 30 minutes or more of exercise every day.

2. Strength Training

Besides cardio, Squats, push-ups, and tricep dips are examples of bodyweight workouts that not only increase insulin function but also boost metabolism by increasing muscle mass. Combining strength exercises with cardio exercise is the most effective strategy to grow a lean body, maintain a healthy BMI, and lower your risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

3. High-intensity interval training

Intervals are short bursts of high-intensity exertion followed by lower intensity rest. It’s a quick approach to improving your cardiovascular fitness, with added benefits for PCOS. Going hard on the spin bike burns a lot of calories and decreases abdominal fat more effectively than a brisk walk.

4. Core Strength

Being overweight can lead to lower back pain and bad posture, so it’s critical to include core training in your workout. These muscles support the spine, and knowing how to activate them will keep you from injuring yourself when exercising.

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Image Credits: Pinkvilla

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