Chronic Stress a Big Problem for PCOS Women

A stressor is something that stimulates your body to respond in some way.

Stress can be good, neutral, or bad. Stress is bad when you have too much of it, too often. For women with PCOS, chronic stress is especially bad.

A stress response include a release of a variety of stress hormones (primarily cortisol), an increase in blood sugar, muscle tightening, a rise in blood pressure, increased pulse rate, and rapid, shallow breathing. This is your "fight or flight" response to a situation you're presented with.

Stress hormones may contribute to ovarian cysts, anxiety, depression, excessive eating, weight gain (especially in your mid-section), infertility, chronic inflammation, miscarriage, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, premature birth or lower birth weight, and more.

Consequences of Stress for PCOS

Effective management of stress is critically important to women with PCOS because research from the University Hospital of Essen in Germany has shown that you are more sensitive to stress than other women are.

In this study, 32 women with polycystic ovary syndrome and 32 non-PCOS women had to compleete a public speaking assignment. Biochemical measurements showed the women with PCOS had a more stressful public speaking experience compared to the other women.

So it's more important for you than for the average woman to implement methods for reducing chronic stress.

Stress and Miscarriage

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome have a higher risk of an unsuccessful pregnancy than normal women do.

A medical study from the University of Michigan has revealed a possible connection between miscarriage and the mother's cortisol level during the first 3 weeks after conception. Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted when you are under stress.

Since women with PCOS already have an increased risk of miscarriage to begin with, and since they are more sensitive to stress, and since stress increases miscarriage, it make a great deal of sense to reduce your stress level if you intend to become pregnant, and while you're pregnant.

There are lots of ways to manage and reduce chronic stress. We've listed below a couple of ideas.

Reduce Stress with Breathing Meditation

When you're under stress, do you notice that your breathing becoming more shallow and rapid?

When you notice this happening, wherever you are, stop what you're doing for a moment and take some slow, deep breaths.

If you can spare five or ten minutes, find a quiet place and start a breathing meditation. A breathing meditation is a fantastic way to calm yourself and make your stress go away.

Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position. Perhaps you can sit in a comfortable chair or lie down if convenient. The most important thing is to feel comfortable and safe so that you can focus entirely on your breathing.

Once you're found your spot and feel comfortable, close your eyes.

Start to notice your breathing. The purpose of this is to increase your self-awareness and get in touch with your breathing rhythm. Most of the time, we are so busy or stressed that we are totally unaware of how we're breathing.

Notice the air filling your lungs. Then notice as you breathe out and the air leaves your lungs.

Repeat the process of noticing your breath.

As you do this, you'll find thoughts start to come up. They might be about work, family, friends, or anything at all. It doesn't matter. It's all part of the process and it's perfectly normal to continue to have stray thoughts while meditating.

When these thoughts come up, let them drift out with your next breath and bring your mind back to focusing on your breathing.

Continue for as long as you wish.


Hypnotic suggestion is another possible way to reduce your stress level. Hypnosis gives your mind an opportunity to be receptive to new ideas and solutions.

It's very easy to do, simply by listening to a CD.

Here's a good example of a hypnosis CD by Dr. Randy Gilchrest.

There are lots of other things you can do to reduce stress. The Natural Diet Solution e-book has a chapter on stress that has a long list of other stress-reduction techniques.

Watch Out for 'Comfort Foods'

When you're feeling stressed out, do you unconsciously start to eat foods or beverages that make you feel better, at least temporarily?

Afterwards, you may feel guilty and wonder why you ate a pint of ice cream instead of a garden salad. You know the ice cream was not a good idea but you did it anyway.

The reason for this behavior when you're under stress is that a pleasure center in your brain called the "nucleus Accumbens" stimulates your desire to consume something that you perceive as comforting. These foods usually have a sweet or fat component.

After eating these foods, your nucleus Accumbens calms down and your perceived stress level is reduced.

Eating disorders are more common in women with PCOS than in the general population. Stress control is a good way to deal with this problem if you are afflicted with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Other Natural Therapies for PCOS

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