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Is stressing about your diet and exercise routine ruining your fertility and causing PCOS symptoms?
It’s well known that stress can cause the disruption or total loss of menstrual function in women. (1) And menstrual dysfunction, along with the physical symptoms of hormone imbalance, has become increasingly common over the past few decades.
It’s now estimated that up to 10 percent of reproductive-age women in the US have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a health condition that not only affects a woman’s fertility, but also causes frustrating changes to her physical appearance, including weight gain, male-pattern hair growth, acne, and water retention.
Women with PCOS also have higher rates of anxiety and depression, either caused or exacerbated by the embarrassing physical changes that often occur with the condition.
And while there certainly is a genetic component that increases one’s risk of the syndrome, PCOS is significantly affected—and possibly caused—by lifestyle factors including diet, exercise, and stress.
Unfortunately, in an age where high achievement and perfectionism are idolized and flat abs and “thigh gaps” are considered to be the standard of feminine physical beauty, there are thousands of women running their bodies and hormones into the ground in an attempt to lose weight and achieve this impossibly high cultural standard.
I’ve worked with dozens of women who were undereating, overtraining, and under constant stress and even fear related to their poor body image and a desire to be thinner and leaner by any means necessary.
Sadly, this extreme diet and exercise behavior can backfire when women start to develop “adrenal PCOS”: the elevation of androgenic hormones by the adrenal glands that causes symptoms similar to ovarian cyst-driven PCOS.
In this article, you’ll learn how excessive stress about your diet, exercise, and life in general might be driving the adrenal hormone changes that are causing your PCOS symptoms.