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PCOS & PCOD
Updated on 25 September 2023
In recent years, PCOS and thyroid have become increasingly prevalent in women of reproductive age. Interestingly, these two conditions are associated with hormone levels in the body and their imbalance. Consequently, it’s normal to wonder if there’s a relation between these two conditions.
In this article, we will navigate the relationship between PCOS & thyroid disorders, exploring their shared symptoms, underlying causes, and potential treatment options including a PCOS and thyroid Indian diet chart.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid disorders are two common endocrine disorders that affect women. While they are separate conditions, there is a complex relationship between PCOS and thyroid function. PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and ovarian cysts, while thyroid disorders involve abnormalities in the thyroid gland, which produces hormones that regulate metabolism. The link between the two lies in the impact they have on each other's functioning.
Research suggests that PCOS can disrupt thyroid function by increasing the production of certain hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, which can interfere with the thyroid's ability to produce and regulate hormones. On the other hand, an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, can contribute to the development of PCOS by disrupting the balance of hormones involved in ovulation and menstrual cycles.
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Women with PCOS often experience a range of symptoms, including irregular or absent periods, excessive hair growth, acne, weight gain, and infertility. Additionally, they may have insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes if not managed properly. Thyroid disorders, on the other hand, can manifest in various ways depending on whether the thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism).
Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, and tremors, while hypothyroidism symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, depression, and dry skin.
It is worth noting that some symptoms of PCOS may overlap with those of thyroid, making it challenging to differentiate between the two conditions. These include:
Irregular menstrual cycles
Excessive hair growth or loss
Changes in mood
To diagnose PCOS, healthcare providers typically consider a combination of symptoms, physical examinations, and blood tests. Blood tests are used to measure hormone levels, such as testosterone and insulin, as well as to check for thyroid abnormalities. Ultrasound imaging may also be performed to visualize the ovaries and identify the presence of cysts.
For thyroid disorders, blood tests are crucial in assessing the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), thyroxine (T4), and triiodothyronine (T3). These tests help determine whether the thyroid is functioning properly and whether medication or other interventions are necessary.
Weight management can be particularly challenging for individuals with both PCOS and thyroid disorders. However, with the right approach, it is possible to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Firstly, adopting a balanced and nutritious diet is essential. A diet rich in whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables can help regulate blood sugar levels and support overall health. It is also important to limit the consumption of processed foods, sugary snacks, and beverages high in added sugars.
Engaging in aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling, can help burn calories and improve insulin sensitivity. Strength training exercises, such as lifting weights or using resistance bands, can also be beneficial in building lean muscle mass, which can boost metabolism.
Lastly, managing stress levels is imperative as stress can exacerbate symptoms of both the disorders. Engaging in stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help promote relaxation and overall well-being.
The treatment and management of PCOS and thyroid disorders may involve a combination of approaches, including medication, lifestyle modifications, and complementary therapies.
In terms of medication, healthcare providers may prescribe hormonal contraceptives to regulate menstrual cycles and reduce androgen levels in PCOS. Thyroid disorders may require medication to normalize thyroid hormone levels, such as levothyroxine for hypothyroidism or anti-thyroid medications for hyperthyroidism.
In addition to medication, lifestyle modifications play a crucial role in managing both conditions. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress levels. Complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, may also be considered to alleviate symptoms and promote overall well-being.
Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional system of medicine originating from India, offers holistic approaches to managing these disorders. Ayurveda focuses on restoring balance in the body through dietary modifications, herbal remedies, and lifestyle changes.
Herbs commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine for PCOS include fenugreek, ashwagandha, and shatavari. These herbs are believed to help regulate hormone levels, reduce insulin resistance, and support reproductive health.
Read more about : Ashwagandha
For thyroid disorders, herbs like guggul, kanchanara, and punarnava are often recommended to improve thyroid function and balance hormone levels. However, it is important to consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner before starting any herbal remedies.
Read more about : Shatavari
Adopting a balanced diet can be beneficial for individuals with PCOS and thyroid disorders. Including a variety of whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help regulate blood sugar levels, support thyroid function, and manage weight.
Here is a sample Indian diet chart:
Vegetable omelette with whole wheat toast and a cup of herbal tea.
A handful of mixed nuts.
Quinoa pulao with mixed vegetables, dal, and a side of cucumber raita.
Greek yogurt with berries.
Grilled chicken/fish with sautéed spinach and brown rice.
Roasted chickpeas or roasted makhana (fox nuts).
A cup of warm turmeric milk.
Remember to consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to personalize the diet chart according to your specific needs and preferences.
In addition to Ayurvedic medicine for PCOS and thyroid, there are several home remedies that can help alleviate their symptoms.
For PCOS, consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, may help reduce inflammation and improve hormone balance. Spearmint tea has also been shown to have anti-androgenic effects, potentially reducing excessive hair growth and acne associated with PCOS.
For thyroid disorders, incorporating foods rich in iodine, such as seaweed, iodized salt, and seafood, can support healthy thyroid function. Consuming foods high in selenium, such as Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and tuna, may also be beneficial.
Furthermore, avoiding foods known to interfere with thyroid function, such as soy products and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.), can be helpful.
PCOS and thyroid are complex conditions that can have a significant impact on a woman's health and well-being. It is important to consult with healthcare professionals to receive an accurate diagnosis and develop a comprehensive plan that may include medication, lifestyle modifications, and complementary therapies. By taking a holistic approach, women can improve their overall health and quality of life.
1. Palomba S, Colombo C, Busnelli A, Caserta D, Vitale G. (2023). Polycystic ovary syndrome and thyroid disorder: a comprehensive narrative review of the literature. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne).
2. Singla R, Gupta Y, Khemani M, Aggarwal S. (2015). Thyroid disorders and polycystic ovary syndrome: An emerging relationship. Indian J Endocrinol Metab.
3. Du D, Li X. (2013). The relationship between thyroiditis and polycystic ovary syndrome: a meta-analysis. Int J Clin Exp Med.
Anupama Chadha is a content writer who has written extensively for industries such as HR, Healthcare, Finance and Tech.Read More
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