Inflammatory PCOS: How to Deal with a PCOS Flare-Up

Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can be a challenging journey, especially when facing PCOS flare-ups. These flare-ups, accompanied by increased inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and various physical and emotional symptoms, can disrupt your daily life. However, it's important to remember that you are not alone and there are strategies and lifestyle changes that can empower you to effectively manage and minimise the impact of these flare-ups.

In this article, we will explore the concept of inflammatory PCOS, delve into the triggers and symptoms of flare-ups, and discuss practical tips to help you effectively deal with and alleviate their effects.

Understanding Inflammatory PCOS

Inflammatory PCOS refers to a condition where chronic inflammation plays a significant role in the development of the syndrome. Studies^1 have shown that women with PCOS often have higher levels of inflammatory markers in their bodies, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). This chronic inflammation can lead to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances, causing symptoms like weight gain, acne, irregular periods, excessive hair growth (hirsutism) and mood swings.

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Identifying Flare-Up Triggers

To effectively manage and prevent PCOS flare-ups, it's important to be aware of common triggers that can exacerbate the inflammatory response. While everyone's experience with PCOS is unique, some common triggers include:

  1. Poor Diet: Consuming a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats can aggravate inflammation in the body. Consider focusing on incorporating nutrient-dense, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your diet.

  2. Sedentary Lifestyle: A lack of physical activity can contribute to insulin resistance and inflammation. Engaging in regular exercise, such as strength training and cardiovascular activities, can help reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity.

  3. Stress: Chronic stress can disrupt hormonal balance and trigger inflammatory responses. It's important to incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine. Consider practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, journaling, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy.

  4. Environmental Factors: Exposure to toxins, chemicals, and pollutants can contribute to inflammation. Take steps to reduce exposure by using natural cleaning products, filtering tap water, and avoiding products with harmful chemicals.

Dealing with a PCOS Flare-Up

When faced with a PCOS flare-up, there are strategies and lifestyle changes that can help you manage and minimise its impact:

  1. Maintain a Balanced, Anti-Inflammatory Diet: Focus on consuming whole, nutrient-dense foods that are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Include foods such as leafy green vegetables, berries, fatty fish, nuts and seeds. Studies^2 have shown that women with PCOS have impared glocuse intolerance, so it's so its super important to avoid or minimise processed foods, sugary beverages, and refined carbohydrates, as they can contribute to inflammation. 

  2. Prioritise Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity, studies^3 have shown, can help reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity and promote overall well-being. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. Find activities that you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, swimming, cycling, or yoga.

  3. Manage Stress: Stress management is crucial for keeping inflammation at bay. Incorporate stress-reducing techniques into your daily routine, such as practicing mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, journaling, taking baths, or engaging in hobbies you enjoy. Prioritise self-care and carve out time for relaxation.

  4. Seek Support: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, partner, family, or online communities who understand and can empathize with your experiences. Sharing your journey and seeking advice from others with PCOS can be empowering. Additionally, consider joining support groups or reaching out to healthcare professionals who specialise in PCOS management.

  5. Advocate for Yourself: Be proactive in your healthcare journey by seeking out knowledgeable healthcare professionals who understand PCOS and can provide proper guidance and support. Don't hesitate to ask questions, discuss treatment options, and explore different approaches to managing your symptoms. Remember that you are your own best advocate.

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Dealing with inflammatory PCOS flare-ups can be challenging, but with the right strategies and lifestyle changes, you can minimise their impact on your daily life.

By identifying triggers, making dietary and lifestyle adjustments, seeking support from healthcare professionals and a community of individuals with PCOS, and advocating for yourself, you can take control of your PCOS symptoms and improve your overall well-being.

Remember to be patient and kind to yourself as you navigate this journey. You have the strength to overcome these challenges!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.

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  1. Escobar-Morreale HF, et al. Circulating inflammatory markers in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fertil Steril. 
  2. Ehrmann DA, Barnes RB, Rosenfield RL, Cavaghan MK, Imperial J. Prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Diabetes Care. 1999 Jan;22(1):141-6. doi: 10.2337/diacare.22.1.141. PMID: 10333916.
  3. Hafizi Moori M, Nosratabadi S, Yazdi N, Kasraei R, Abbasi Senjedary Z, Hatami R. The Effect of Exercise on Inflammatory Markers in PCOS Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Trials. Int J Clin Pract. 2023 Feb 9;2023:3924018. doi: 10.1155/2023/3924018. PMID: 36817281; PMCID: PMC9934983.