If you are one of the estimated 5 million women in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with PCOS—also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome—you’ve likely been told that the first step in managing your PCOS symptoms is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Great advice, makes sense, but...what does that mean, exactly?
Exercise, diet, and all the basics of well-being surely come to mind, but if you’re like us, you might wonder why these changes matter, and what specific actions you should take for PCOS specifically.
We caught up with Dr. Caitlin O’Connor, to break down how to manage PCOS naturally. She explained that the key to PCOS management is finding your own equilibrium. The process looks different for each person because the syndrome and the symptoms exist on a scale, and look different for every woman. But for all women with PCOS, balancing your hormones, blood sugar, and mental health is crucial—so here are five steps to help you get there.
Continue reading below.
The 5-Step Routine for Managing PCOS
Step 1: Manage Your Stress
Gulp, we know. Sometimes it’s easier said than done. But stress management is a key step in “balancing blood sugar regulation, ovarian hormones and sleep,” Dr. O’Connor explains. Whether it’s with acupuncture, exercise, meditation, or cutting your calendar obligations—find the avenue that helps you take a deep breath and calm the storm.
Step 2: Get Your Zzz's
Sleep, that elusive nectar of the gods. It’s not the first time you’ve heard how important sleep is, but when it comes to PCOS, an ample amount of sleep regulates blood sugar, hormones, energy and mood, Dr. O’Connor says. Consider the doctor's orders to turn off your screens earlier in the night to help your body prepare for rest. No more midnight TikTok scrolls! (We’re telling ourselves this, too.)
Step 3: Add In Regular Movement
You’ll notice a recurring theme here, but exercise is also integral for managing your hormones, stress levels, and blood sugar. As Dr. O’Connor puts it, “they’re all intertwined.” What types specifically? “In my opinion there are many subtypes of PCOS and the ideal form of movement will vary not only on PCOS presentation but also stress levels, sleep, reproductive phase, physical limitations, and more—so movement in general is really crucial but will look different for everyone.”
Need help finding a place to start? These are the best exercises for your hormones.
Step 4: Find the Foods That Work Best for You
Women with PCOS have an increased risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, so balancing your blood sugar is a crucial step in wellbeing. “Figure out what foods work for your body,” Dr. O’Connor suggests. “Many diets can be helpful but no one diet works for everyone. In general, think less processed foods, lots of fiber, and figuring out a way to manage blood sugar and any insulin resistance.”
Add these to your grocery cart—a nutritionist weighs in on the best foods to eat for PCOS.
In addition to a balanced diet, supplements are an actionable way you can take care of your hormonal health today. Perelel's PCOS Support Vitamins ($54) were formulated by leading OB/GYNs and reproductive endocrinologists to help maintain your hormonal balance, mood, regular menstrual cycles, and promote healthy ovulation and ovarian function.*
Perelel PCOS Support Vitamins ($54)
Step 5: Build Your Care Team
Finally, “find a good health care team that treats PCOS as a multi-varied and multi-system condition, knowing it is not the same in everyone,” Dr. O’Connor says. It is time to part ways with “any provider that gives blanket statements of what will work for everyone with PCOS.”
Shop OB/GYN-formulated vitamins for PCOS now. Plus, check out everything you need to know about PCOS and fertility, according to a reproductive endocrinologist.
Written by Jessica Lopez. Jessica Lopez is a writer and new mother based in Southern California. She has written for Cup of Jo, BRIDES, Byrdie, THE/THIRTY, and more, and she currently enjoys (over)thinking and writing about parenthood. You can connect with her on Instagram, if you’d like.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.