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PCOS and your Skin

Several of you have asked about PCOS, Acne, and Hair Growth and Remedies to these conditions.

Let’s start with what Is PCOS?

PCOS is an acronym for Polycystic ovary syndrome, which is a hormonal condition.

In women who have it, it can affect your ability to have a child (fertility).

It can also:

• Make your periods stop or become hard to predict

• Cause acne and unwanted hair

• Raise your chances for other health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure

With PCOS, your reproductive hormones are out of balance. Hormones are substances your body makes to help different processes happen. Some hormones are related to your ability to have a baby, and also affect your menstrual cycle. Those that are involved in PCOS include.

• Androgens: Often called “male” hormones, yes women have them, too. Those with PCOS tend to have higher levels, which can cause symptoms like hair loss or hair in places you don’t want it (such as on your face), as well as trouble getting pregnant.

• Insulin: This hormone manages your blood sugar. If you have PCOS, your body might not react to insulin the way that it should.

• Progesterone: With PCOS, your body may not have enough of this hormone. That can make you to miss your periods for a long time, or to have periods that are hard to predict.

Treatments can help you manage the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and lower your odds for long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.

You and your doctor should talk about what your goals are so you can come up with a treatment plan. For example, if you want to get pregnant and are having trouble, then your treatment would focus on helping you conceive. If you want to tame PCOS-related acne, your treatment would be geared toward skin problems.

Some Healthy Habits that will not cure PCOS but will help with the conditions as a result of the syndrome.

  • One of the best ways to deal with PCOS is to eat well and exercise regularly.

  • Many women with PCOS are overweight or obese. Losing just 5% to 10% of your body weight may ease some symptoms and help make your periods more regular. It may also help manage problems with blood sugar levels and ovulation.

  • Since PCOS could lead to high blood sugar, your doctor may want you to limit starchy or sugary foods. Instead, eat foods and meals that have plenty of fiber, which raise your blood sugar level slowly.

  • Birth control is the most common PCOS treatment for women who don't want to get pregnant. Hormonal birth control -- pills, a skin patch, vaginal ring, shots, or a hormonal IUD (intrauterine device) -- can help restore regular periods. The hormones also treat acne and unwanted hair growth. Discuss these decisions with your health care professional.

This is an excerpt from the Journal of Medicine googling PCOS.

Here are some other methods to help manage your PCOS symptoms:

Before trying any treatment option, it’s important to discuss your diagnosis with your health care provider and collaborate on a plan that works for you.

  • Be strategic with calories.

One study indicates that caloric intake timing can have a big impact on glucose, insulin and testosterone levels. Lowering insulin could potentially help with infertility issues. Women with PCOS who ate the majority of their daily calories at breakfast for 12 weeks significantly improved their insulin and glucose levels as well as decreased their testosterone levels by 50 percent, compared to women who consumed their largest meals at dinnertime. The effective diet consisted of a 980-calorie breakfast, a 640-calorie lunch, and a 190-calorie dinner.

  • Decrease AGEs.

Women with PCOS have been shown to have higher levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in their blood. AGEs are compounds formed when glucose binds with proteins, and are believed to contribute to certain degenerative diseases and aging. One small study found that cutting down on dietary AGEs significantly reduced insulin levels in women with PCOS. Foods high in AGEs include animal-derived foods and processed foods. Applying high heat (grilling, searing, roasting) increases levels.

***Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are proteins or lipids that become glycated as a result of exposure to sugars. ***American Heart Association.


  • Bone up on vitamin D and calcium.

A case control study examining 100 infertile women with PCOS found that those who supplemented a daily 1500 mg dose of metformin, a medication commonly used to treat PCOS symptoms, with calcium and vitamin D saw improvements in BMI, menstrual abnormalities, and other symptoms. The women in the study added 1,000 mg of calcium a day and 100,000 IU of vitamin D a month to their daily metformin dose for six months.

  • Get enough magnesium.

Many women with PCOS exhibit symptoms of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, risk factors that raise the risk for heart disease and other problems like diabetes and stroke. Low magnesium levels are often associated with diabetes, and some research indicates that a dietary supplement of the mineral may improve insulin sensitivity, a factor in the development of type 2 diabetes and PCOS. One study found that overweight, insulin-resistant subjects who received 300 mg of magnesium at bedtime showed a significant improvement in fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, compared to subjects who received a placebo.

  • Increase your chromium.

Chromium is an essential mineral that helps the body regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. Some research suggests that chromium supplements can help people with diabetes lower their blood glucose levels. One study examined the role of the mineral in women with PCOS. The results indicated that 200 mcg daily of chromium picolinate significantly reduced fasting blood sugar and insulin levels in subjects — enough that the effects were comparable to the pharmaceutical, metformin. While metformin was also associated with lower levels of testosterone, taking a daily dose of 200 mcg of chromium picolinate could help regulate blood sugar levels.

  • Load up on omega-3s.

Fish oil has been associated with a long list of health benefits, and some research indicates that omega-3 supplements can decrease androgen levels in women with PCOS. One study found that women with PCOS who were given three grams of omega-3s a day for eight weeks had lower testosterone concentrations and were more likely to resume regular menses than subjects who received a placebo.

This is an excerpt from One Medical Blog Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet Benefits for PCOS

By Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN

As time goes by, researchers are becoming closer to getting answers about the causes and treatments for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a reproductive and endocrine disorder that affects approximately 10% of women of childbearing age in the United States.

One new advance is more understanding about the role of inflammation in PCOS and how it may be a root cause of the syndrome, and its associated long-term complications.

Compared to women of the same weight (thin, average and overweight), women with PCOS have higher levels of inflammatory markers. These markers include higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, white blood cell count, and oxidative stress.

Higher Inflammation and PCOS

One theory of the higher inflammation seen in PCOS women is due to higher androgens which in turn stimulate more insulin production. Higher insulin levels contribute to weight gain which only causes more inflammation. Thus a vicious cycle ensues for women with PCOS.

Inflammation can also be caused by diet, which can induce oxidative stress to stimulate an inflammatory response (even without weight gain). A diet high in carbohydrates is associated with a pro-inflammatory response. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet may counteract some of the inflammation in women with PCOS and help improve both metabolic and reproductive aspects.

In a study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences, women with PCOS followed a Mediterranean style anti-inflammatory diet for 3 months. This diet was designed to be low calorie, low-fat, low-saturated fat, low glycemic index and moderate-to-high fiber. The diet composition was 25% proteins, 25% fat, and 50% carbohydrates and emphasized anti-inflammatory foods such as fish, legumes, nuts, olive oil, herbs, spices, and green tea.

The results: women lost 7% of their body weight and showed significant improvements in their cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammatory markers. Sixty-three percent of women regained menstrual cyclicity and 12% conceived following this type of diet.

Are you interested in trying this diet approach to see how it helps you? Check out these simple ways to incorporate more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet.

Simple Ways to Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

  • Evenly space carbohydrate foods throughout the day

  • Avoid sugary foods and beverages

  • Make half your plate vegetables

  • Eat a variety of fruits

  • Consume unsaturated sources of fat such as flaxseeds, olive oil, and nuts

  • Eat beans and legumes several times each week

  • Limit red meat to once every 2 weeks

  • Eat omega-3 rich fish (salmon, tuna, trout) twice a week

  • Use herbs and spices such as ginger, chili peppers, black pepper, curcumin, bay leaves, fennel, anise, caraway, cumin, coriander, clove, cinnamon, marjoram, rosemary, and thyme to season food

  • Drink green tea daily

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