1. Don’t Smoke
Smoking can increase your risk for heart disease, atherosclerosis and diabetes. You are also at a much higher risk for developing those conditions when you have PCOS, so do yourself a favor and skip behaviors that will only make that risk higher. Check with your doctor if you need help kicking the habit.
2. Don’t Eat High-Sugar Foods
As you probably know, PCOS is linked to insulin resistance. This alters the way your body is able to process and deal with sugar. If left unchecked, it can lead to diabetes and significantly worse complications. This isn’t to say that you have to avoid all sugars or switch to artificial sweeteners, but focus on eating natural and whole foods and try to eliminate as many processed foods as possible from your diet.
3. Don’t Be a Couch Potato
We all know how important exercise is. And when you have PCOS, it’s especially important to help lower your risk for heart disease and obesity. There’s no need to join a gym, get all kinds of fancy equipment, or even spend hours working out. Instead, try to spend 30 minutes a day, a few times a week, walking. Make it fun by walking at a park, at your local mall, or with friends.
4. Don’t Skip Doctor’s Appointments
Your doctor can help you monitor for complications and keep you healthy. The scheduled visits are important to keep track of your health and make sure that you stay symptom-free. This is especially important if you are undergoing infertility treatment. Some of the medications can cause severe complications and you need to be monitored.
5. Don’t Forget to Keep Track of Your Periods
Not having regular periods can put you at risk for endometrial cancer. Though rare, frequent missed periods can increase your chance of developing this complication. When life gets busy, it can be easy to lose track of when your last period was, but designate a special place or calendar to mark it down. Let your doctor know if you are consistently missing periods or if there is more than 40 to 50 days between them.
6. Don’t Ignore Your Symptoms
The good thing about PCOS is that there are a lot of medication and treatment options available. There’s no need to disregard your symptoms or assume that they are something that you just have to deal with. Check in with your doctor regularly to discuss your symptoms, and don’t be afraid to say that the treatment isn’t working.
7. Don’t Underestimate Your Need for Sleep
Sleep is important! Not having enough of it can interrupt the hormones that control your hunger. This can lead you to consume more calories — typically not from healthy foods. Getting enough sleep can actually help you lose weight and make you feel better. Most people need six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
8. Don’t Take Your Medication Irregularly
Medications, like the birth control pill, work best when taken as prescribed and at regular intervals. Skipping doses or not taking it regularly can make the medication ineffective, or even dangerous. For example, taking metformin if you are not planning on eating can cause your blood sugar to drop to dangerously low levels. Make sure you understand how and when to take your medication when you pick it up from the pharmacy.
9. Don’t Ignore Symptoms of Depression
Depression isn’t just something you can “snap out of.” It is a serious condition that needs to be addressed by a mental health professional. It is known that women with PCOS are significantly more likely to have problems with depression. If you think you might be depressed and are experiencing symptoms like sadness, difficulty eating or sleeping, weight loss or gain, or sleeping and eating too much, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or make an appointment with a counselor.
10. Don’t Keep it to Yourself
PCOS can be a challenging condition, and having a good support structure is crucial. So, if you don’t know anyone else who has PCOS or don’t have anyone with whom you talk about it, find a support group. There are many organizations that offer places where you can meet other women with PCOS. Check in with your doctor for ideas, too.