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London Bridge Hospital launches new dietetics service to manage Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in women, affecting between 6 and 21% of the female population. A lifelong condition, PCOS is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and diabetes as well as menstrual dysfunction, hirsutism, infertility and depression.

The dietetics department has launched a new service to help women manage the symptoms and side effects through diet and weight loss. Robyn Coetzee, Specialist Dietitian offers advice on why diet is so important for PCOS sufferers.

Being overweight, particularly around the abdominal area is more common in women with PCOS and can worsen the reproductive, metabolic, and psyhological features of the condition. Ms Coetzee expands: "This is mediated primarily through insulin resistance which is thought to be intrinsic to PCOS. Being overweight also further exacerbates insulin resistance, and the presentation of PCOS as elevated levels of insulin leads to greater testosterone production and reduced ovulation." Even slightly elevated amounts of testosterone can upset the balance of hormones in the body, leading to acne, excess hair, male pattern baldness, irregular periods and infertility.

Where appropriate, weight loss through a healthy balanced diet has shown to be of clinical benefit for women with PCOS. Weight loss in women who are already overweight can help to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as well as improve insulin resistance, while a balanced diet in women who are not overweight is still essential to manage symptoms by controlling insulin levels. Ms Coetzee advises: "Eating foods that can cause your blood glucose levels to rise slowly can be useful to reduce the symptoms of PCOS through an improvement in insulin levels. Women with PCOS are often resistant to the effect of insulin and so have more insulin in their blood to compensate." For women who are trying to conceive, a well balanced diet before, during and after pregnancy is essential to ensure mother and baby receive all the nutrients needed for optimal growth and development.

With regards to specific diet plans, the most important consideration is a diet and exercise plan that is tailored to the individual. Drop out rates from weight loss interventions are notoriously high, so finding a plan that the patient can stick to is crucial. Ms Coetzee expands: "Whilst a number of different diets for PCOS sufferers have been trialled, for example low GI, high protein, or calorie controlled diets, reviews have found no significant differences in outcome between these different diets as long as weight loss is achieved. Finding a form of physical activity that women can enjoy and fit into their lifestyle is also important as studies have shown a benefit from physical activity, even without weight loss, in improving insulin resistance in women with PCOS."

An an initial appointment at the London Bridge Hospital PCOS Clinic, a specialist dietitian will conduct a detailed dietary assessment and offer tailored advice to ensure that a balanced and healthy diet is achievable within each individual's lifestyle. Anthropometric measurements such as weight, height, BMI, waist circumference and percentage body fat can be calculated and realistic targets set. On-going support and advice is provided at follow-up appointments, empowering women to reach their goals.

For further information, please contact Emily Mayer, Marketing Coordinator on 020 7234 2630
To book a consultation please visit www.londonbridgehospital.com or call 0844 800 0696