What does a polycystic ovarian syndrome belly look like?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a disorder of the female reproductive system, affects women of childbearing age and manifests in a number of ways.
It affects the ovaries, menstruation, body hair distribution, glucose metabolism, belly fat distribution, skin, and fertility.
It affects the belly particularly because the disease causes fat to be deposited around the organs in the abdomen, causing the abdomen to bulge.
It is a condition that is seen mostly in women of child-bearing age caused by changes in the concentration of certain hormones, most notably follicle-stimulating hormone (in charge of development and maturation of eggs), luteinizing hormone (mostly in charge of ovulation and sex hormone production), progesterone (the pregnancy hormone) and estrogen (the female sex hormone), androgens (the male sex hormone), and insulin.
The imbalance of these hormones could result in the ovaries having many fluid-filled sacs, as well as abnormal states such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, obesity, difficulty with conception, and menstrual irregularities, amongst others.
How does PCOS arise?
It arises when either through genetic causes or otherwise, a woman’s eggs fail to eject from the ovaries during ovulation, resulting in reduced progesterone production. This leads to a loss of control of secretion of other hormones of the woman’s sexual cycle controlled by progesterone.
A vicious cycle involving excessive androgen, therefore, results, in reducing the ability of the woman to achieve the following: egg maturation, ovulation (ultimately leading to multiple cysts in the ovaries), normal glucose regulation and cellular uptake, ultimately causing excessive fat deposition in the belly and around abdominal organs.
How does PCOS affect the belly?
The belly features of PCOS arise from insulin resistance which results in the failure of the body to efficiently use the sugar in the circulation, causing it to be converted into fat that settles in the abdominal cavity.
Insulin resistance arises from excessive androgen which opposes the body’s response to the glucose-regulating hormone.
How does PCOS belly look?
Although this could vary from woman to woman, the abdomen in PCOS takes on an apple shape in which there is a high waist-hip ratio. This is usually associated with overweight or obesity and pelvic pain in some women.
There could also be increased hair distribution around the belly and the feeling of being BLOATED. In addition, the abdomen is usually hard to touch.
How do you know if you have PCOS belly fat?
Although a waist-hip ratio of greater than 0.85 is indicative, the best way to discover if you have PCOS belly fat distribution is via radiological examinations such as MRI and CT scans.
These will not only show your belly fat distribution but also help rule out any other abdominal problems you might have.
How to manage a PCOS belly
The following tips could go a long way in improving the symptoms of PCOS including PCOS belly fat:
Healthy eating: considering the underlying mechanisms of PCOS, healthy dietary practices can help counter the major derangements seen in PCOS, by enhancing insulin sensitivity and subsequently, reducing belly fat storage. Foods like whole grain, fish, eggs, legumes, and healthy fats should dominate over high-calorie food and processed food.
Regular exercise: this helps to burn excessive calories and thus reduce weight and belly fat. In fact, weight reduction of as little as 5% could be the first step in improving symptoms of PCOS, kick-starting regular menstruation, and subsequently, ovulation.
Exercises like walking, jogging, and skipping are good examples to help lose weight.
A good sleeping habit: the secretion of most of the hormones involved in PCOS are regulated by sleep. Thus, a regular and healthy sleep habit will go a long way in organizing the secretion of these hormones involved in causing PCOS.
If you are finding it difficult to sleep, then you can improve your sleeping by doing any of the following:
set a time table and specific time for sleep
use earplugs to reduce noise
avoid using mobile devices or watching TV just before you sleep
sleep in a dark room
Stress management: excessive stress has been noted to affect the timed manner of hormone secretion. Thus, it follows that when stress is properly managed, it could significantly help to correct the hormonal imbalance associated with PCOS.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition caused by an imbalance in the hormones that control the woman’s sexual cycle.
These imbalances cause a reduction in certain hormones like progesterone and excessive secretion of some like the luteinizing hormone, insulin and androgen.
All these combine to cause decreased maturation of eggs in the ovary and failure of ovulation. As a result, the ovaries become cystic, the body fails to respond adequately to insulin and utilize sugar. Obesity results and manifests mostly as increased body and belly fat.
A combination of healthy eating, exercise and management of stress can go a long way to reduce overall body weight and belly fat and also improve the chances of fertility.