Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Written by: Sonja Cornes (Accredited Exercise Physiologist)

Polycystic Ovaian/Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that affects approximately 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. So, chances are, you know someone how has this condition. PCOS is caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones known as androgens.

Typically, when we think about androgens we think about testosterone; the “male” hormone. But did you know that androgens are a hormone present in all genders and is responsible for puberty, muscle development, bone density, and sexual function.

In people assigned female at birth, androgens assist in the regulation of the menstrual cycle, fertility, bone density, and puberty.

For person’s with PCOS, there is an increase in the production of androgens that can cause multiple cysts on the ovaries, which can interfere with ovulation and cause irregular periods.

This can result in challenges with fertility. Other symptoms can include acnes, excessive hair growth, and weight gain.

The definition of PCOS focuses on persons of childbearing age, however, this does not mean that at menopause the condition and its impacts are resolved. Hormone imbalances still occur which means this condition needs to be managed across a person’s lifespan.

People with PCOS have an increased risk of:

  • Developing cardiometabolic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
  • Mental health conditions such as Depression and Anxiety
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity

How can Exercise and Physical Activity Help?

While there is no known cure for PCOS, there are a number of lifestyle changes such as exercise (planned, structured, repetitive movement with the goal to improve aspect of physical fitness e.g., resistance training) and physical activity (any body movement where muscles are contracting and results in energy expenditure e.g. gardening, house cleaning etc.) that can help to manage the condition.

Exercise can be beneficial in helping to:

  • Manage weight
  • Increase physical fitness and muscular strength
  • Release hormones such as serotonin and endorphins to lift your mood!
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Reduce your risk of developing future cardiovascular/metabolic diseases
  • Manage current cardiovascular/metabolic diseases e.g. Type II Diabetes
  • Reduce your blood pressure

In conclusion, PCOS is a complex endocrine disorder however, exercise can be a powerful tool in helping to manage symptoms. By improving weight management, regulating hormones, and improving mood, exercise can have numerous benefits for helping people with PCOS. Chat to one of our Exercise Physiologist’s in Balwyn North today about how we can help you!