Polycystic ovary syndrome is a reproductive system disorder that strikes women of child-bearing age. According to MayoClinic.com, PCOS is characterized by enlarged, swollen, cyst-covered ovaries, along with auxiliary symptoms of irregular menstrual periods, unexplained abdominal weight gain, excessive masculine-pattern hair growth, oily skin, acne, insulin resistance, increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and impaired fertility. Some experts believe that caffeine worsens symptoms of PCOS.
It's not clear what causes polycystic ovary syndrome, and there are no known ways for you to prevent it, says Cleveland Clinic. Treatment of PCOS focuses on managing symptoms via medication and, if necessary, surgery. Because the syndrome can be debilitating and stressful, physicians often recommend various lifestyle and nutritional changes, such as increased exercise and a healthier diet, which may decrease symptoms of PCOS and improve a patient's quality of life.
Caffeine and PCOS
Some health experts believe that caffeine exacerbates polycystic ovary syndrome. According to the reproductive-health educational website Women's Health, caffeine increases your body's normal estrogen levels. Many PCOS patients struggle with infertility, and caffeine is often suggested as a potential contributor to fertility issues, says Natural News. It seems clear that caffeine plays a role in sex hormone-related issues for at least some women; therefore, even if the link is not fully understood or universal to all PCOS patients, some physicians advise PCOS sufferers to cut down on or eliminate caffeine to see if doing so lessens symptoms and improves fertility.
Of course, caffeine is not the only dietary concern that is relevant to polycystic ovaries. Because the syndrome causes sudden weight gain and even obesity, often accompanied by insulin resistance that can develop into Type 2 diabetes, a healthier diet in general is recommended to women with PCOS. Cleveland Clinic recommends that you eat a well-balanced diet rich in folic acid, limit caffeine to two servings per day and obtain regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight.
If you have or suspect you may have polycystic ovary syndrome, see your physician right away. Untreated PCOS may lead to worsening of symptoms and the development of Type 2 diabetes. Your doctor may perform certain examinations and tests to confirm a PCOS diagnosis and rule out other conditions. If you have questions about the role of caffeine in the development or worsening of PCOS symptoms, consult your physician or a registered dietitian with expertise in this area.