Common Risk Factors for PCOS

Friday 23 April 2021
Hormones

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Jubil Tom, MD
on 14 June 2021

Table of Contents


I. How PCOS Affects Hormones

II. Genetic and Hereditary Risk Factors

III. Poor Exercise Habits

IV. Diet Problems in a Fast-Food Era

V. Lowering PCOS Risk


How PCOS Affects Hormones 

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that can affect androgen, testosterone, and estrogen levels in the female body. Androgen and testosterone are hormones that promote male characteristics. Estrogen plays a vital role in developing and maintaining the female reproductive system. But how does PCOS affect these important hormones? 

PCOS disrupts the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and the luteinizing hormone (LH). FSH and LH are responsible for developing and releasing the egg. When these two hormones are disrupted, a small cyst can form in the ovary. This cyst then further contributes to the body’s hormonal imbalances. [1]

If a woman produces excess male hormones, she may experience acne, excessive facial or body hair, baldness, and obesity. A cyst in the ovary can contribute to irregular menstrual periods and issues with fertility. To treat these symptoms, doctors generally prescribe Aldactone for hair loss, Clomid, or Femara to help with fertility. PCOS affects women of childbearing age. Read on to find out how you can reduce your risk of developing this condition. 

three women of a family

Genetic and Hereditary Risk Factors

There is a major genetic component to polycystic ovary syndrome. Research indicates that PCOS is a complex genetic syndrome linked to a dysregulation of androgen synthesis. This essentially means that women who have gene variants associated with excess androgen production (hyperandrogenism) may carry an increased risk of developing PCOS. [2] PCOS risk can also be passed on from generation to generation. Because it runs in families, you may be at risk for PCOS if one or more family members have the condition. [1]

Poor Exercise Habits

We may not have control over our genetic and hereditary risk, but we have a say in our lifestyle. Being overweight can significantly increase PCOS risk. Excess weight can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. To reduce PCOS risk brought on by an unhealthy weight, it is important to change poor exercise habits. [3]

Even if you are a healthy weight, regular exercise can be beneficial for maintaining overall health and reducing your PCOS risk. As long as you consistently exercise, any type of physical activity helps. Whether you enjoy strength training or aerobic activity, finding a comfortable level of intensity can prevent burnout and help maintain a regular exercise routine. [4] You may want to try: 

Cardiovascular workouts: Exercises like jogging, biking, or dancing can get your heart pumping. These workouts aim to sustain a heart rate of 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220.

a pink yoga mat, dumbbells, and towel

Strength training: This type of exercise utilizes weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight to build muscle and strengthen bones. Strength training is beneficial because increasing muscle mass helps you burn calories when you are in a resting state.

Mind-body training: Exercises like yoga and Tai Chi can get your blood flowing while reducing stress levels. Stress is a risk factor of PCOS, so reducing stress can contribute to PCOS prevention. [3]

Diet Problems in a Fast Food Era

What you eat can have a direct impact on your weight and insulin resistance. Because weight and insulin resistance is a major contributing factor to PCOS, eating a nutritional diet is crucial for reducing PCOS. The problem is that fast food, packaged snacks, and processed foods are so easily accessible nowadays that eating healthy seems like extra work. But these foods contain artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and unhealthy fats that not only increase the risk of PCOS but other dangerous health complications. 

To reduce this risk, try avoiding fried and processed foods and upping your intake of complex carbs, anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish, and lots of fruits and vegetables. Consult your dietician for a customized diet plan to reduce your PCOS risk. [5]

a couple eating at a fast-food chain

Lowering PCOS Risk 

Family history, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor dietary choices are some of the most common risk factors for polycystic ovary syndrome. Women who have one or more of these risk factors should consult a doctor for ways to prevent PCOS. Your doctor can perform several types of examinations to determine if your PCOS risk is high. If you are diagnosed with PCOS, your doctor can prescribe Clomid (clomiphene), Femara (letrozole), or Aldactone (spironolactone), depending on your symptoms. With the right treatment plan and lifestyle changes, PCOS can be manageable. [6]

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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