Being both under- and overweight has adverse effects on fertility and health. It is therefore very important that a healthy lifestyle is maintained throughout life. It is also important to achieve and maintain a healthy weight where possible. This includes preventing weight gain if in the healthy weight range, losing weight if overweight or maintaining this weight loss long-term. This is best achieved through a combined approach of healthy diet, physical activity and healthy behavior strategies
How do I lose weight?
Trying to lose weight may initially seem overwhelming. It is important that you find the right motivation for you and that you are ready to make changes to your lifestyle (see Behavioral changes). Weight loss is ultimately about having less energy going into your body than you expend (use up). You can lose weight by reducing the amount of energy you put into your body (through eating) and by increasing the amount of energy you use up (by exercising). Reducing incoming energy and increasing exercise in combination is important.
Weight loss and PCOS
A large number of research studies have shown that it only takes a modest amount of weight loss (5-10 kg or 5-10 per cent of your initial body weight) in the majority of women with PCOS to:
- Reduce insulin resistance by about 50 per cent
- Restore ovulation
- Regulate menstrual cycles
- Reduce pregnancy complications
- Improve fertility
- Improve emotional health (self esteem, anxiety, depression)
- Reduce risk factors for diabetes and heart disease
What diet and exercise approaches should non-overweight women with PCOS follow?
Not all women with PCOS are overweight. Lifestyle management is still important even if you are within your healthy weight range. It is easier to prevent weight gain than to lose weight, so focusing on a healthy lifestyle from a young age is very important for achieving a healthy weight and improving your overall health and wellbeing. Both the symptoms of PCOS and the prevalence of PCOS can also worsen with weight gain and preventing excess weight gain can therefore help control PCOS.Even when not actively trying to lose weight, adopting a healthy diet will also ensure that you are receiving a healthy intake of nutrients, vitamins and minerals and can reduce your long-term risk of disease such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Physical activity not only increases energy levels, but also assists in coping with stress, improves self esteem and can reduce anxiety and depression.