Learn more about a disorder that affects between 6-10 percent of women in the child-bearing years.

Living with polycystic ovarian syndrome

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Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a female hormonal disorder that affects between 6-10 percent of women in the child-bearing years. These women have higher levels of male hormones and because of this, they have certain health issues.

The symptoms of PCOS: 

  • Acne and oily skin
  • Patches of dark skin
  • Excess hair on face, chest and stomach 
  • Abdominal obesity
  • Dandruff
  • Accelerated appetite 
  • Pelvic pain 
  • Infertility

Health issues that can develop from PCOS: 

  • Glucose intolerance
  • Insulin resistance
  • Increased heart disease risk

Because PCOS can have real health implications down the road, it is important to discuss with your doctor ways to treat it.

Dietary changes with modest weight loss can help to reduce the symptoms and improve long term health.

Dietary tips for PCOS:

  • Pay attention to carbohydrate intake – have modest amounts of slow-rising carbs such as vegetables, whole-grains, legumes and fresh fruits
  • Round out meals with lean protein and healthy fats such as oils, nuts and avocado
  • Avoid sugary drinks, refined starches such as chips and snack crackers and sweet desserts

Recipes to manage polycystic ovarian syndrome:


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years, and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.