There is a perception that all women with PCOS are overweight or obese. But can you be skinny and have PCOS? Let's find out.
And, in this article, we also explore what lean PCOS is. Lean PCOS? Have you ever heard of it? In this article we will explore all about that and give you a definite answer to the question; “can you be skinny and have PCOS?”
Have You Heard of Lean PCOS?
However since they are in the minority and excess weight is considered a classic symptom, those with lean PCOS may not be diagnosed right away. Those who are lean with PCOS can face challenges, including fertility issues and a higher risk of undiagnosed diabetes and heart disease.
Their increased levels of androgens (male hormones) can also lead to symptoms like acne, unwanted hair growth, and hair loss.
So, Can You Be Skinny And Have PCOS?
The answer to this question is yes! Of course, you can be underweight and yet have the condition. This type of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is known as lean PCOS.2https://www.verywellhealth.com/unique-challenges-of-lean-women-with-pcos-4155138
For the unversed, polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormonal disorder that causes multiple cysts in your ovaries. This condition affects women who are in their childbearing years, anywhere between 15-45 years of age.
More often than not, PCOS is associated with overweight women. However, the cases of lean PCOS are continuously increasing. Why is that so?
Dr Sneha Sathe, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Mumbai, explains, “Most women with PCOS have difficulty managing their weight. There is a tendency to gain weight easily and weight loss is difficult.
Some women with PCOS maintain a normal weight (lean PCOS); but they still face fertility challenges, increased androgens, and an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
Along with that, irregular periods, lack of ovulation or late ovulation, increased facial hair, problems in conceiving, insulin resistance, anxiety, and acne, are some of the symptoms both kinds of patients go through.
You can watch the video below to learn more:
So, What is Considered Lean?
Lean in this case refers to a healthy BMI or body mass index. The healthy BMI ranges from 18 to 24.9.3https://www.healthshots.com/preventive-care/reproductive-care/can-you-be-underweight-with-pcos-its-time-to-find-out/ Women with lean PCOS have a healthy BMI, unlike women who are overweight with PCOS.
How Common is it to be Lean and Still Have PCOS?
Most women think that obesity and PCOS have many elements in common. However, one out of three women with PCOS are not overweight or obese, shares Dr Sathe with HealthShots.
In spite of having a normal BMI, women with lean PCOS may struggle with irregular periods, fertility problems, blood sugar control, and other symptoms like acne and oily skin. So, it is just another misconception that women with PCOS are overweight.
But “lean” doesn’t mean better. In fact, having lean PCOS can make it harder to get diagnosed, even though it causes many of the same long-term health complications as other types of PCOS.
So if you have an irregular period and are wondering if you could have PCOS despite a BMI within a healthy range, know that it’s possible.
Why is Weight Management with PCOS So Difficult?
A significant challenge with PCOS is that, for most of us, our body is resistant to insulin. Dr Sathe says, “Insulin is a hormone which is produced by the pancreas. It helps convert sugar and starch (from the food we eat) into energy.
PCOS makes it more difficult for the body to use the hormone insulin (referred to as insulin resistance). As a result of this unconverted sugar, the pancreas produces more insulin, in order to try and maintain normal sugar levels.
High amounts of insulin can trigger and accelerate the production of the male hormones (androgens), which can lead to weight gain and many other symptoms of PCOS.”
Not only this, women with PCOS are at a high risk of developing many of the problems associated with weight gain and insulin resistance like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
Is it Difficult For Women with Lean PCOS to Get Pregnant?
Women with PCOS often find it hard to conceive naturally. The hormonal imbalance prevents the regular cyclical development and release of a mature egg (anovulatory infertility).
However, having PCOS does not mean that pregnancy is impossible. PCOS is one of the most common treatable causes of infertility, says Dr Sathe.
What Should You Do? - How Can You Treat Lean PCOS?
If you have PCOS and you're at a normal or lean weight, certain steps can keep you on track for good health:
- Get your insulin and glucose levels tested: Your doctor may not think to test your blood sugar levels if you're not obese. But having PCOS puts you at risk for developing insulin resistance even if you're not overweight.
- Maintain your healthy weight: Having PCOS makes it more difficult to maintain a healthy weight. But it's worth the effort. Eating a healthy diet is crucial in the management of PCOS. Maintain a diet, which is packed with carbohydrates, whole grains, and lots of fruits.
- Eat a healthy diet and avoid high-sugar foods: Eating well is vital to your health. This is true for all people, but especially for those with PCOS.
- Exercise and Begin resistance training: To manage PCOS symptoms, try and exercise regularly. With lean PCOS, you don’t need to practice strength training and weightlifting exercises. But following a regular workout routine is important. A regular exercise routine is a good idea. But make sure your exercise routine includes resistance training. This will increase your lean muscle while reducing the "bad fat" in your body.
- Reach out for emotional support: Women with PCOS are more likely to struggle with anxiety and depression. Reach out for support from friends and professionals.
- Stress management: Practice meditation, gentle yoga, or practice hobbies that can relax you, including gardening, painting, reading books, or anything else that’s a stressbuster for you.
- Advocate for yourself when you see your doctor: Get a second opinion if you feel your doctor isn't giving you the care you need.
- Regular check-ups: Regular checkups are important for PCOS management.
A Word From Bornfertilelady
Since most women with PCOS are overweight or obese, lean women with PCOS may be overlooked. This can spell trouble by leading to a delayed diagnosis of problems like diabetes, heart disease, and insulin resistance. The best thing lean women with PCOS can do is to maintain a healthy weight. Following a healthy diet can help, too.
It can be frustrating to be diagnosed with PCOS and find that most of the information on the topic is aimed at overweight women. Your frustration may be compounded by those who are doubtful about your diagnosis because you're not obese.
While obesity is a risk factor for PCOS, about 20% of women with PCOS have a weight and waist circumference that falls within a healthy range. But fear not: You are not invisible. Just be sure not to behave as if you are. You have to remain proactive about managing your PCOS.
A healthy diet and regular exercise can help regularize the menstrual cycle and improve fertility. So, stay in touch with your doctor and follow their advice to manage your condition.