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How Older Women Can Manage PCOS
Jerry Cahn, Ph.D., J.D. --  Age Brilliantly Jerry Cahn, Ph.D., J.D. -- Age Brilliantly
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York, NY
Tuesday, February 20, 2024


Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition that affects 5% to 18% of women. There is plenty of research on how PCOS affects women of reproductive age. However, as this is an incurable condition, it’s crucial to look into the specific challenges older women face throughout their lives. A 2022 observational study of women with PCOS found that 20% were above 40—and that 70% were overweight or obese. This is alarming because over half of women with PCOS develop type 2 diabetes by age 40, and the risk for heart disease only increases with age.

Indeed, women must pay close attention to their health as they enter their forties and beyond. PCOS can be challenging to treat, but with medical guidance and lifestyle changes, you can minimize your risk of related complications.

Nutrition management

While PCOS is a chronic condition, nutrition is the first line of defense for managing PCOS-related symptoms like insulin resistance. Even a small amount of weight loss can help older women lower their risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Therefore, when formulating a PCOS diet to lose weight, it’s essential to integrate fiber-rich foods to support a healthy gut microbiome, as well as consuming protein with every meal and snack to feel fuller for longer. Sugar and processed carbohydrates, on the other hand, should be limited. These nutritional changes can alleviate symptoms like acne and excess hair growth, resulting in weight loss of 5% to 10%. Instead of forcing yourself to eat high-fiber foods you dislike, prioritize the foods you actually enjoy; it’s a surefire way to increase intake. Consider prepping versatile ingredients (like vegetables) and writing down a meal plan every weekend to reduce time spent cooking on weekdays.

Sustainable exercise

Exercise is crucial at all stages of life, but more so for older women with PCOS, who have up to 80% prevalence of insulin resistance. Working out makes your body more sensitive to insulin for up to sixteen hours after exercise, helping to lower blood sugar levels while facilitating weight loss. You can start small: just ten minutes of brisk walking can reduce the risk of death due to all causes by 18% compared to those who are inactive. The CDC suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise for older adults. Still, an advanced age shouldn’t deter women with PCOS from engaging in vigorous-intensity activity. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be ideal for PCOS patients, who may have oxidative stress and chronic pain, as it takes a shorter time duration. In a 2022 study, short-term and equipment-free HIIT improved the cardiorespiratory fitness of older adults, with or without an instructor. You can do these independent, bodyweight-focused exercises at home, which increases adherence to the workout plan and improves health outcomes.

Community support

Research shows that women with PCOS have a 27% to 50% likelihood of depression; they also report feelings of anxiety and isolation. According to the US Surgeon General, poor social and emotional support can result in an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes for older adults. Since these risks are already present for PCOS patients, seeking enriching communities is vital to physical and psychological health. We’ve discussed how individuals with strong social connections experience better health outcomes. The Internet is a crucial tool for interaction for older women who don’t live close to friends and loved ones. One study showed that 72% of PCOS patients sought online groups for support when dealing with PCOS-specific health challenges.

Aging may come with its own set of challenges that, without proper interventions, can be exacerbated by PCOS. Building lifestyle changes gives you the physical and mental fitness needed to manage PCOS with grace and ease.

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Name: Jerry Cahn, Ph.D., J.D.
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Group: Age Brilliantly
Dateline: New York, NY United States
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