Do Women with PCOS Face Issues with Breastfeeding?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition. It can cause menstrual irregularities, infertility, cysts in your ovaries, and other symptoms. It's usually diagnosed during the teen years or early 20s. This condition can make it harder for you to get pregnant. You may also have an increased risk for miscarriage if you do conceive. If you have PCOS and are trying to get pregnant, your doctor can offer treatment options that may help.
The exact cause of PCOS isn't known, but genetics may play a role. Your doctor will diagnose PCOS based on your symptoms, medical history, and condition signs when performing a physical exam and lab tests. Unfortunately, there's no cure for PCOS. Still, treatments are available to manage your symptoms and reduce any risks associated with the condition. Rather than treatments and pills, you can also plant-based PCOS supplements like andMe's PCOS drink. This helps regulate your periods, balance hormones, and reduce weight. The PCOS drink consists of Ayurvedic ingredients like Sariva and Ashwagandha.
Symptoms of PCOS:
The symptoms of PCOS are wide-ranging and may vary from woman to woman. However, some of the most common symptoms include:
Because PCOS affects ovulation and egg production, you might have trouble getting pregnant if you have it.
Irregular or absent menstrual periods:
A regular menstrual cycle signifies that your ovaries work properly and release an egg each month. This can be impacted by PCOS and make it harder to get pregnant if you're trying.
Hirsutism (excess body or facial hair):
With PCOS, your body produces higher levels of androgens. This male sex hormone can cause excess hair in areas where women typically don't have hair, like your face and chest.
The changes in hormone levels that come with PCOS can cause weight gain in some women.
Acne or oily skin:
An increase in androgens can also cause acne on the face, chest, or back of PCOS patients.
Thickening of skin:
Patches of thickened skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs due to high insulin levels in the blood.
Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair on the scalp:
This is another symptom caused by the extra secretion of androgen.
You may also experience heavier-than-normal periods when you menstruate. This can be due to the lining buildup that occurs in the absence of ovulation.
How does PCOS affect breastfeeding?
PCOS is a common hormonal imbalance that can affect lactation. Because overproduction of insulin causes PCOS, it also causes the ovaries to produce more androgen than average. This imbalance interrupts estrogen production, progesterone and other female sex hormones. This imbalance can affect your periods, fertility and even your ability to breastfeed.
Breast tissue development:
Lactation with PCOS may also be difficult due to the development of the breast itself. The hormonal imbalance caused by PCOS can affect how breast tissue develops during puberty and pregnancy. For example, irregular or fewer periods early on in puberty can cause you to have lower levels of the hormone estrogen, which can lead to less breast tissue. You might also experience more significant than average breasts during pregnancy due to weight gain.
Reduced estrogen levels:
Lactation requires your body to make many estrogen hormones, which help prepare the breast for milk production. The less breast tissue you have, the harder it is to produce milk.
Reduced frequency of breastfeeding:
Breastfeeding is essential for maintaining a healthy milk supply. Still, with PCOS and its symptoms, you may not be able to nurse as often as you'd like. Breastfeeding is a demand-and-supply system — the more you nurse or pump, the more your breasts will produce milk. Suppose you're unable to breastfeed as often as needed. In that case, it can affect your ability to maintain an adequate breast milk supply.
Insulin resistance is thought to contribute to a lack of supply. It's also believed that insulin resistance can affect the growth of the breasts, along with milk synthesis and production. Receptor cells in the breast have to be sensitive to insulin to work properly with other lactation hormones. If they lose that sensitivity, it's harder to produce a good breast milk supply.
How can women with PCOS solve lactation problems?
Milk production is regulated by prolactin, oxytocin, and progesterone. Prolactin stimulates your mammary glands to produce milk, and oxytocin controls its release. Progesterone inhibits milk production. PCOS affects all three of these hormones, which can inhibit lactation.
Here are some things you can do to regulate your milk production:
Diet: Diet Regulating milk production can be achieved through dietary changes. Some women have headaches, sore breasts, and general breast discomfort when breastfeeding. Research shows that these symptoms are often caused by excess milk production. You have to eat a balanced diet that includes whole, nutritious foods, which can help you get the nutrients you need. Try to curb your sweet cravings. With PCOS, you may be more prone to sugar cravings if you have insulin resistance. Opt for foods with a low glycemic index (GI) that won't cause your blood sugar to spike.
Many fruits, vegetables and dairy products are considered low GI foods. Some examples of low GI foods include:
- -Citrus fruit
- -Most types of nuts and seeds
- -Sweet potatoes
Physical activity helps regulate insulin levels and reduces stress, beneficial if you have PCOS. If you haven't exercised in a while, start slowly with walks and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.
Fenugreek is a herb that can also be used as a cooking spice. It's also been shown to increase breast milk production in mothers with PCOS. For this reason, many people take fenugreek supplements to help improve their milk supply. However, always consult your doctor before taking any supplements because there may be side effects for you or your baby. You can have plant-based breast milk increasing powder like andMe's lactation booster that is filled with the richness of Ayurvedic ingredients like fenugreek seeds, Shatavari, etc. andMe's lactation booster is entirely vegan and chemical-free.