Let's talk PCOS... Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition. In the UK, it is experienced by around 1 in 10 women and people who are assigned female at birth
(1). There is no 'cure' for PCOS and it can have a huge impact on the lives that it affects. Including but not limited to:
irregular periods, or a complete lack of periods
irregular ovulation, or no ovulation at all
reduced fertility – difficulty becoming pregnant
unwanted facial or body hair (hirsutism)
oily skin, acne
thinning hair or hair loss from the scalp (alopecia)
weight problems – being overweight, rapid weight gain, difficulty losing weight
depression and mood changes
Source (Verity: The polycystic ovaries self-help group 2 )
These symptoms alone are enough to be challenging, let alone when on your TTC journey. Navigating PCOS in your fertility journey can be tricky, disheartening, and confusing to name a few. However, the symptoms of PCOS can be managed with medication in addition to lifestyle factors such as dietary manipulation.
Please note, this is not a one-size fits all shop and all dietary interventions should be tailored to you and your unique needs.
A diet rich in fruits and veggies can help to not only provide antioxidants but beneficial fiber to help with your gut microbiome.
LOW GI DIET AND INSULIN RESISTANCE
Insulin resistance can be a contributing factor for PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that helps to transport glucose from your meal into the cells, like muscles and the liver to use as energy throughout the day.
Generally, low glycaemic index (GI) foods can help to improve insulin resistance. In order to reduce insulin responses around eating, aim to opt for low glycaemic index (GI) foods including: starchy grains; vegetables; lean meats; legumes; and lentils.
You could aim for:
- ½ plate of veggies
- ¼ carbohydrates such as brown rice, wholemeal pasta, quinoa
- ¼ plate of lean proteins
Consider working with a fertility dietitian who can make tailored supplement, lifestyle, and dietary advice to help improve your chances of falling pregnant when you have PCOS.
If you're in the UK, feel free to reach out and see how I can help you!
Supplements to improve PCOS symptoms and reduce inflammation include omega 3 and vitamin D. Myo-inositol has been shown in some studies to improve menstrual cyclicity and ovulation in people with PCOS. Speak with a qualified health professional for personalised recommendations for vitamins that compliment your diet.
OTHER THINGS TO LOOK INTO
Lastly, practicing mindful eating can help to bring an awareness to your mealtimes. One of my passions is helping people to learn how to eat intuitively. If you find you're constantly checking out the biscuit cupboard, overeating, or can't trust yourself with snacks in the house then intuitive eating may be able to help you. Intuitive eating is a non-weight focused, healthful way of achieving balance and peace with food.
This is just one piece of the fertility puzzle - See if I can help you on your fertility journey and book a discovery call with me today (UK residents only).
Please note: The information in this article is not a substitute for professional medical or dietetic advice - if you have concerns regarding your health, please speak to your doctor. See the full disclaimer here.
ABOUT DIETITIAN KIRSTY
Dietitian Kirsty is a registered UK based dietitian and the founder of Your Health and Lifestyle Ltd. A company designed to support people with their fertility journey through evidence-based nutrition advice. In addition to being passionate about supporting the next generation, Kirsty enjoys supporting women with reconnecting with their innate intuitive eater, practicing self-care, and discovering food freedom.
1. Verity: The polycystic ovaries self-help group (2017). What is PCOS. Available online at:
[last accessed 20th September 2021]
2. Verity: The polycystic ovaries self-help group (2017). What are the symptoms of PCOS. Available online at: https://www.verity-pcos.org.uk/symptoms-of-pcos.html
[last accessed 20th September 2021]