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How PCOS Impacts Your Weight And What You Can Do About It

How PCOS Impacts Your Weight And What You Can Do About It

You’re struggling to manage your weight despite your best efforts, and you suspect it might be about more than diet and exercise. If you're feeling frustrated and unsure about the underlying causes, you might be dealing with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Board-certified OB/GYN Daniel S. Kushner, MD, and his team offer specialized services to help women in White Plains and Queens, New York, manage PCOS and its symptoms — including issues with weight. We’re dedicated to making sure you receive compassionate and effective care, personalized to meet your needs. 

Take a moment to learn more about the link between PCOS and weight and how you can reclaim control. 

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a common hormonal disorder diagnosed in women of reproductive age. The exact cause isn’t fully understood, but factors like genetics, insulin resistance, and higher levels of androgens (male hormones) play significant roles. 

Women with PCOS may experience a variety of symptoms including irregular menstrual cycles, acne, thinning hair, infertility, and weight gain. These symptoms can be bewildering and distressing, but understanding them is the first step toward effective management. 

Why does PCOS affect my weight?

Many women with the condition find it challenging to maintain a healthy weight. The reason is that this condition often causes insulin resistance, where your body's cells don’t respond normally to the hormone. 

Your pancreas releases insulin when you eat, helping your body convert calories into glucose (sugar). It then brings the glucose to your muscles to burn as fuel or to your liver to be stored as fat. For these reasons, insulin plays a key role in regulating your blood sugar as well as your weight.

When you have insulin resistance, the cells in your muscles and liver don’t respond to the insulin, so they don’t take up glucose from your blood. As a result, insulin levels rise, and higher insulin levels can increase fat storage in the body, making weight loss more challenging. 

Addressing this symptom is crucial not only for your overall health but also for alleviating other PCOS symptoms. In fact, this issue is part of the reason PCOS is linked to other serious health issues related to weight, including Type 2 diabetes — more than 50% of women with PCOS develop the condition. 

How can I lose weight with PCOS? 

Losing weight when you have PCOS can be a challenge, but it's definitely something you can do! A key strategy is to incorporate a diet that stabilizes your insulin levels and reduces insulin resistance. 

Eating low glycemic index (GI) foods, which have a slower impact on your blood glucose levels, are an excellent choice. Regular physical activity is also important, as it helps lower your blood glucose levels.

 

Dr. Kushner and our team create personalized weight loss plans that consider the unique challenges posed by PCOS. By addressing these specific needs, we boost your chances of successfully losing weight and improving your overall health.

For example, Dr. Kushner may prescribe metformin. Traditionally used to treat Type 2 diabetes, it's also effective in managing PCOS because it improves insulin resistance. 

By improving your body's sensitivity to insulin, metformin helps lower your blood sugar and insulin levels, which can reduce the production of androgens and lead to weight loss. This can be especially helpful in breaking the cycle where insulin resistance leads to weight gain, which makes PCOS symptoms worse. 

What are the treatments for PCOS?

At Daniel S. Kushner, MD, we believe in a comprehensive approach to managing PCOS, including both lifestyle and medical interventions. Lifestyle strategies for PCOS support weight loss, including:

You can manage symptoms like excess hair growth with treatments such as at-home or laser hair removal. 

In addition to metformin, some medications that help manage the symptoms triggered by hormonal imbalances include:

Hormonal birth control 

For women not looking to conceive, options like pills, patches, shots, vaginal rings, or IUDs can regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce androgen levels, helping manage symptoms like acne and hair growth.

Anti-androgen medicines

These medications can help reduce male hormone levels, which are typically higher in women with PCOS.

Fertility drugs

For patients struggling to conceive, fertility medicines like clomiphene citrate (Clomid) or letrozole can stimulate ovulation.

Get help for PCOS and manage your weight by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Kushner. Call the office convenient to you, or request an appointment online.

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