PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome is a common female endocrine disorder and is one of the leading causes of infertility. Even if you have PCOS, you can still get pregnant naturally.
Women who are diagnosed with PCOS tend to be obese and they don’t ovulate (anovulation), which can result in irregular menstrual cycles or no menstrual cycles at all. A pelvic ultrasound typically reveals ovaries which contain many small cysts.
Women with PCOS have a problem with insulin resistance. This means that the body has a difficult time responding to and using insulin correctly and there tends to be too much insulin produced. Hormone balance is upset which causes the ovaries to overproduce androgens (male hormones) such as testosterone, which can result in facial hair, acne and skin discoloration. What you eat can help improve insulin resistance and thereby balance your hormones and regulate your ovulation.
Even if you are diagnosed with PCOS, there are a few things that you can do to increase your chances of conceiving naturally.
- If you are overweight, losing some weight is a start. One study showed that losing as little as 5% of your body weight can improve your chances of getting pregnant without any medical intervention.
- Eat some cinnamon. Cinnamon is a spice that can improve your insulin resistance. A Columbia University study showed that women with PCOS who consumed 1 gram of cinnamon extract a day significantly improved their insulin resistance after eight weeks. Other studies have shown that regular consumption of cinnamon helped slow digestion which would moderate the rise in blood sugar levels after eating.
- Eat some millet. You may not be familiar with millet, but it is a whole grain that is wheat and gluten free and most likely to be found in a health food store or whole foods supermarket. It has been dubbed as the “fertility wonder grain”. Because it helps balance blood sugar and insulin levels, it can help keep your hormones in balance. However, a word of caution is warranted. Millet contains a compound that interferes with the production of thyroid hormones. So if you have a thyroid condition, you’ll want to alternate millet with other grains.
- Avoid simple carbohydrates such as white bread and other baked goods made of white flour and sugar because they trigger an insulin response. Instead, add complex carbohydrates such as whole grain products, beans or green vegetables to your diet.
- Increase your regular physical activity to four or more hours of exercise per week spread over a number of days. Studies have shown that this level of exercise along with sensible eating can improve the hormone profile of women diagnosed with PCOS. This is attributed to a decrease in the amount of fat distributed around the belly which may improve insulin sensitivity and thereby restore normal menstrual function.