Living with PCOS: How to Manage Hormonal Changes In Your 30s Like a Pro.

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December 29, 2023

Cyan Dacasin

Portrait style photo with a woman with a towel wrapped around her head drinking water from a crystal glass to depict an image of wellness in regard to living with PCOS.

Beyond significant transformations in your career, relationships, and overall life, your 30s are also characterized by various physiological changes. As discussed in a previous post with health and wellness podcaster Olivia Amitrano, these include hormonal changes or imbalances, which can then profoundly affect your physical, mental, and emotional health. For Amitrano, dysregulated testosterone and insulin levels contributed to unintentional weight gain, increased fatigue, and irregular menstrual cycles.

For many women in their 30s, these hormonal changes are not only a sign of the transitional stage called perimenopause but may also be an indicator of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the most common endocrine disorder among women of reproductive age. Besides affecting your weight, period, and energy levels, PCOS can also cause skin conditions, hair loss, and an increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure. Fortunately, the following interventions can address these hormonal changes and their corresponding symptoms.

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Nutrient-rich foods

Going back to what Amitrano shared, from her personal experience, one of the most effective ways to balance her hormonal levels was to adjust her diet. Aside from abstaining from hyper-palatable foods — in other words, foods high in calories, fat, and sugar — to lower blood sugar, she prioritized a high-protein diet to improve insulin function and lose weight healthily.

Similarly, you can add the best hormone-balancing foods to your diet to manage symptoms like inflammation and hot flashes and improve the overall hormonal picture. These include dark leafy greens like kale to boost energy levels, omega-3-rich foods like walnuts and flaxseed to reduce cholesterol and inflammation, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds, whose MCT content can regulate blood sugar, metabolism, and appetite.

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Stress management techniques

Hormonal changes can also be associated with increased levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol. While stress is a natural physiological response, chronic or prolonged stress can impair your bodily functions and even increase your appetite for sugary and fatty foods, thereby contributing to weight gain.

However, you can integrate multiple stress management techniques into your routine to naturally lower your cortisol levels. Whether you do them by yourself or fellow female friends in their 30s, listen to relaxing music, spend time outdoors, and meditate through yoga and mindfulness exercises to relieve your stress.

Prescription medications for PCOS

In some cases, lifestyle changes like diet and stress management may not be sufficient to address the biology of hormonal disturbances. For instance, women with PCOS may have a harder time losing excess weight on diet and exercise alone due to insulin resistance that makes the body inefficient in processing glucose.

If you share the same struggles, you can opt for weight loss medication for PCOS to lose weight and keep it off in the long term. These include Metformin, which improves insulin sensitivity to reduce fatty tissue and keep blood sugar levels in check, as well as GLP-1 agonists like semaglutide and liraglutide, which reduce appetite and any cravings for healthier eating habits.

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High-quality sleep

Consistent, high-quality sleep is crucial to improving your hormone health and overall wellness. Research published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology notes that unhealthy sleep patterns like sleep deprivation, sleep disruptions, and sleep-disordered breathing can contribute to or worsen poor reproductive outcomes and harmful conditions during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes.

In contrast, uninterrupted sleep can help regulate hormones responsible for hunger and appetite, like ghrelin and leptin, while also promoting growth hormones for optimal energy breakdown and bone and muscle health. You can improve your sleep quality by reducing caffeine intake and avoiding large meals or snacks before bedtime.

While hormonal changes and imbalances can negatively impact your health and overall quality of life, redesigning your habits and lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring the rest of your 30s are spent healthier and happier.


Credits:

Written by Cyan Leigh Dacasin.