National PCOS Awareness Month is upon us, and there’s no better time for women living with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) to get the support they need. A hormonal imbalance, PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women and it produces many unwanted side effects such as weight gain, acne, excessive facial or body hair, fatigue, and headaches. Because some of these symptoms affect a woman’s appearance, they can also lead to anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues. Working closely with your doctor to control your symptoms and getting the emotional support you need is key to living well with PCOS.

The fertility experts of UNC Fertility in Raleigh, North Carolina offer tips on how to build an essential PCOS support network, and lifestyle changes to help you live your best life despite the challenges PCOS may throw your way.

Knowledge is Power
As with any challenge in life, it helps to know what you’re dealing with. As you know, PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that causes unwanted side effects. What can you expect from the side effects? What can you do to reduce their physical and emotional affect on you? What steps can you take to successfully manage the side effects? Reading up on your diagnosis, and asking your doctor lots of questions, gives you the information you need to determine how to best handle your PCOS. The more you know, the more in control you’ll feel. You have the power to support yourself.

Join a Support Group
Of course; you may also want to look to others for support. The fertility experts of UNC Fertility say that many patients find PCOS support groups very helpful. Because the symptoms can, at times, be alienating women frequently report feeling alone in their struggle. This is not the case. Getting involved in a support group, in person or online, can be extremely reassuring; a unique bond often forms amongst women who share similar PCOS experiences.

It’s also a wonderful way to get and share information. And knowing that you’re contributing to someone else’s well-being provides a positive boost to the way you feel about yourself. This positivity can help combat the anxiety and depression that often accompanies PCOS.

Look at Your Lifestyle
Weight gain is a vexing part of PCOS for many women. Women with PCOS produce high levels of androgen, which can trigger weight gain – frequently in the abdomen. Insulin resistance, common amongst PCOS patients, makes it particularly challenging to lose the weight. Eliminating as many processed foods from your diet as possible can help. Refined sugar wreaks havoc on your insulin levels. You may also want to consider giving up your morning jolt. Stimulants, like coffee and tea, increase insulin production. A diet rich in high-fiber vegetables, lean protein, and anti-inflammatory foods and spices can be beneficial for weight loss and your overall health.
Daily exercise can also help. Whether it’s a 30-minute walk, a yoga video, or a few extra trips up and down your stairs, a short workout every day can serve as both a metabolism and mood booster. Involve family and friends in your quest for a better lifestyle, everyone will benefit.

Seek Help
No matter how positive your outlook, the negative emotions of PCOS are bound to show up from time to time. Don’t feel like you have to handle them on your own. PCOS produces so many physical and emotional issues; it can be overwhelming and lead to profound sadness. Anxiety and depression are serious, and you deserve to get the support you need to deal in a healthy way. A therapist can provide you with the tools you need to manage the emotional aspect of this condition. Call UNC Fertility at 919-908-0000 to find a list of qualified therapists in Raleigh, North Carolina.

See Your Doctor
Regular physical exams are essential for women with PCOS. Unfortunately, PCOS puts women at an increased risk of developing a host of other health issues:

• Diabetes
• Some types of cancer
• Cardiovascular disease
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol

Regular visits ensure that your doctor can keep an eye on potential problems and treat them before they become serious health issues. Periodic doctor appointments also strengthen your PCOS support network; the more experts you have looking out for you and helping you along your journey to good health, the better.

With a positive attitude and strong support network, living well with PCOS is possible. If you have PCOS, or suspect you may, and would like more information call UNC Fertility at 919-908-0000 to make an appointment.