PCOS

Living With PCOS: How Exercising Benefits Your Menstrual Cycle?

July 2021

Exercise and PCOS

Stubborn weight, acne, hair loss, and period troubles are just some of the issues you might face if you suffer from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).

One of the most common recommendations to control the effects of PCOS is to lose weight and exercise regularly. But that’s often easier said than done — and we understand that.

If you’re in a place where you’d like to give exercising a shot to help you live better with PCOS, here’s everything you need to know.

How does exercise affect menstrual periods?

When you start exercising, several changes occur; weight loss, better sleep, increased physical strength and overall improvement in your physical fitness.

But, an unexpected change that you might observe is an alteration in your monthly periods. It could be anything from changes in the flow you experience to the pain you might feel.

And these changes could be subtle or extreme depending on several individual factors that influence how your body reacts to increased activity levels.

Benefits of Exercise for Women With PCOS

1. Lesser pain

Yes! It’s true; exercise can help reduce period-associated pain. Several women experience that Dysmenorrhoea or pain during menses can reduce significantly once they start exercising.

Studies suggest that regular exercise brings about subtle hormonal changes that reduce the production of the inflammatory hormone Prostaglandin (produced within the uterus lining), resulting in lesser pain or cramping during your periods.

2. Better insulin sensitivity

Another benefit of regular exercise, especially cardio exercise and strength training, is that it has been found to help your body respond better to insulin.

Better sensitivity to insulin helps lower your risk for diabetes and other complications.

3. Lowers cholesterol levels

If you have PCOS, you’re more likely to have high cholesterol and triglycerides, leading to complications like metabolic syndrome, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

This is where regular exercise can help — when combined with a healthy diet can help reduce your cholesterol levels .

4. Increased endorphin production

Sometimes, PCOS can lead to depression, and that’s how exercise helps; when you exercise, your body releases endorphins — a hormone that promotes the feelings of wellness.

Therefore, when you exercise, it helps you manage stress and alleviate some symptoms of depression.

5. Promotes better sleep

Regular exercise can help you fall asleep quicker and improve your sleep quality . Also, PCOS and sleep issues like sleep apnoea (a condition where your breathing abruptly stops and starts when you’re asleep), snoring, and insomnia go hand in hand — so exercising helps you get better sleep and beat these issues .

6. Lowers your risk of heart disease

If you have PCOS, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and developing atherosclerosis (fat build-up in the arteries), high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Regular cardio exercise can help strengthen the heart muscle and significantly lowers your risk for these complications.

7. Regulates hormones

Being overweight can have an effect on your hormones. So, when you exercise and eat healthy, you burn more calories than you consume, and your body burns stored fat.

This helps you lose weight and become more sensitive to insulin. And, since excessive fat has an effect on your hormones, especially estrogen, losing weight and depleting some of those extra fat stores can help get your hormones, and hopefully PCOS, under control.

8. Weight loss

Weight loss is usually one of the key reasons you probably want to start exercising regularly. While weight loss is a definite benefit of exercising, it can be a little bit tougher if you have PCOS, so don’t lose hope and keep at it.

Because whether you lose weight as fast as you hoped or not all the other benefits are definitely worth it.

The downside

One of the effects of exercise is exercise-induced amenorrhea (missing periods or not having periods), and in some cases, the ill effects associated with amenorrhea can be serious.

The combination of intense exercise and low-calorie intake can put significant pressure on your body. And, in response, your hypothalamus turns down the stimulation of your ovaries.

This may eventually slow down hormone production, resulting in a reduced estrogen level, causing bone loss or other negative health consequences.

While the benefits of exercising clearly outweigh the ill effects, there is one thing you should keep in mind, before you start off on your fitness journey:

Start exercising under the supervision of a trained expert, like a physiotherapist.

Consulting a physiotherapist before you start your fitness journey is paramount to prevent injuries, early fatigue or burn-out, and even get better results (compared to starting an exercise regimen that’s not monitored).

This is especially true if you’ve never exercised before or are restarting your exercise routine after a long break.

  1. A physiotherapist will be able to assess your initial or starting fitness level and recommend exercises accordingly. Gently guiding you through the process as you get stronger and fitter.
  2. They will also be well versed with any injuries you might sustain while performing certain exercises and can, therefore, course-correct throughout your journey.
  3. As you get stronger and fitter, your physiotherapist acts as a sounding board for any concerns you might have with respect to your workout regimen.
  4. They will also be able to track your progress on a scientific basis and guide you if you aren’t achieving the required results or experiencing any kind of discomfort.

We understand that PCOS can be an emotionally draining ailment, and making changes to your lifestyle can be equally daunting. That’s why we bring you the HealPCOS programme, where you will be guided through the entire process of managing PCOS better.

With guidance on nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, and other factors, this 3-month lifestyle management program helps you manage PCOS through continuous care and support – all from the comfort of your home.

HealPCOS is a Digital Therapeutics (DTx) Program that is designed by experts to be your friend who guides, motivates and helps you manage symptoms and reduce the risk of long-term PCOS-related complications.

To know more about how the HealPCOS program to help you smartly take control of your PCOS, visit our website https://www.fitterfly.com/heal-pcos or speak to one of our counsellors on 022 4897 1077

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