Highlights From The Androgen Excess PCOS Meeting In Boston

PCOS experts from around the globe met in Boston yesterday for the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society (AEPCOS) update meeting yesterday.

If you aren’t familiar with AEPCOS, it is an elite group of health professionals made up of scientists, reproductive endocrinologists, endocrinologists, internists, psychologists, registered dietitians and other professions who treat or do research in PCOS.  I’ve been a member since 2010 and it’s a great group of professionals who are dedicated to understanding and helping women with PCOS.

The focus on the meeting was on lifestyle and mood disorders for PCOS. Here are some of the main highlights from this informative meeting.

A Healthy Lifestyle is Important for PCOS

Many different diet compositions were discussed to help women with PCOS, all with similar results. High glycemic-index (GI) diets contribute to weight gain.  It came down to a healthy diet and lifestyle is important including regular activity, sleep, stress and weight management, which are all key to managing PCOS.

There was not a one diet recommended to treat women with PCOS but rather a focus on a healthy diet with anti-inflammatory foods in sensible portions to manage weight. The recommendation for women with PCOS to work with a registered dietitian nutritionist skilled in PCOS for a personalized approach and support to make sustainable lifestyle changes was encouraged.Boston-Program

Weight Loss is Hard for PCOS Women!

It was acknowledged that practitioners understand that weight loss is difficult for women with PCOS and that difficulties with weight loss is one of the main concerns for women with the condition.

AEPCOS members feel that women with PCOS often turn to the internet for PCOS information and that much of that information is false and misleading. Therefore, women are not receiving the lifestyle support they need.

Supplements Can Make A Difference

I was honored to be the only registered dietitian nutritionist invited to speak at the AEPCOS meeting. Supplement use is common in women with PCOS. My talk covered some of the most studied and important supplements for women with PCOS, including the ones listed below.

Vitamin B12

Metformin has been shown to reduce vitamin B12 levels. It is recommended that women with PCOS have their vitamin B12 levels checked annually if they take metformin and supplement their diets as appropriate. The sublingual form of methylcobalamin is best absorbed. For more information on Vitamin B12, click here.

Inositol

Inositol has been well studied in PCOS. There are 2 different types of inositol, myo and d-chiro inositol (DCI). Myo in particular has been shown to improve ovulation and metabolic factors in PCOS as well as improve egg quality and reduce the risk for gestational diabetes. DCI was found to worsen egg quality. There is a DCI Paradox that PCOS ovaries convert Myo into DCI at increased rates, depleting myo levels resulting in an overproduction of DCI levels, which may cause poor egg quality. Supplementation with a combination of myo to DCI in a 40:1 ratio to mimic the levels in the body is recommended. That’s why we sell Ovasitol, a high-quality inositol supplement that combines both myo and DCI.

NAC

N-Acetylcysteine http://www.pcosnutrition.com/product/n-acetyl-cysteine-nac/(NAC) has been shown to be better than a placebo for improving ovulation and egg quality but not better than metformin. Both NAC and Metformin were found to equally improve insulin, weight, and cholesterol in PCOS women. For more information on NAC, click here.

Vitamin D

Supplementation with vitamin D does not appear to improve metabolic or endocrine parameters in PCOS but can improve fertility, especially in regards to improving the number of mature eggs and reducing AMH levels.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is effective at reducing triglycerides and even hormones such as testosterone. Fish oil may also help insulin resistance.

Women With PCOS Have More Mood Disorders

Professionals agree that women with PCOS are at an increased risk for mood disorders including anxiety, depression, social phobia, and eating disorders. It was mentioned that women with PCOS may even have more suicide attempts.

Because women with PCOS are high risk for mood disorders, the AEPCOS issued a position statement that all women with PCOS should be screened by qualified professionals and referred to appropriate treatment.

Insight into Anxiety in PCOS Women

An interesting link was found between high testosterone exposure in utero and higher levels of anxiety in women with PCOS and their offspring. Interestingly, rats who are given testosterone produce anxiety like behavior.

It is believed that fetal programming may have a lot to do with the higher rates of anxiety. The placenta in PCOS moms may be in a proinflammatory state. This along with the environment of high testosterone that babies are exposed to in utero, can contribute to anxiety in daughters and sons of mothers with PCOS.

It’s Important to Take Care of the Gut

More evidence is showing our gut microbiome has a direct relationship with our health. The typical high carb, high fat Western diet contributes to inflammation and negatively affects the microbiome.

We can nourish our gut microbiome by eating high fiber foods which resist digestion and increase healthy bacteria, as well as fermented foods. Check out The PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook if you’re looking for recipes.  Taking prebiotics and probiotics may also benefit gut health.

Cookbook pile stacked

Overall, AEPCOS members recognized the role of diet and lifestyle for women with PCOS and that being simply told to lose weight is not enough. They also acknowledged the need for more studies to look at how different women respond to different treatments.

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Comments (6)
  • Katherine Goodwin

    April 1, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    Thank you for sharing information from the 2016 update meeting. Trying to stay ahead of PCOS symptoms throughout the majority of my 53 year old life has been more than a challenge – it’s an ongoing mission. I see an endocrinologist twice a year but I’m sure he do not spend much time on PCOS updates – so I am very grateful that there are health professionals paying attention and continuing the study of PCOS to provide information for those of us that suffer from this chronic disease.
    Thanks again!
    Katherine Goodwin
    Independence, MO

  • Diane Thompson

    April 7, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you for the regular updates on new research and recommendations for women with PCOS. I, too, at 54 continue to experience challenges that go along with PCOS…ie hypothyroidism, increased inflammation, high LDL, and hormonal imbalances associated with menopause despite a very strict diet. Looking for more research on post menopausal PCOS!

  • Amber Duryea

    April 7, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Thani you for this wonderful information. I recently started to see a reproductive endocrinologist to try and help me with my pcos. So far I have had a wonderful experience. All of my other Dr’s just say to lose weight. Well it’s not that easy. At least there are a few out there that is trying to get all the information on pcos for us lady’s with it.

  • Sherry

    April 11, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    I’m the mother of an adult woman with PCOS. My daughter recently had a baby girl. My question is what can we do for this precious little angel to prevent her from getting this disorder?

  • karenvweco

    July 6, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    I am almost 70 years old and suspect pcos as my problem for years and unable to lose weight so I decided after a total hysterectomy (for leiomyomata-fibroid uterus enlarged 20 weeks=that was non cancerous) I would get gastric sleeve surgery. I have lost close to fifty pounds but am at a standstill at this point post 15 months but I have lost inches. I am interested in pcos diet information for continued weight loss post sleeve with PCOS symptoms continuing (hirutism anxiety continuing obesity BMI 38 5ft 3.5 inches 216 pounds, no energy and lots of fatigue). I am interested in research for PCOS on senior citizens health as we age but need to find out who to contact in st. louis area. please advise .. .and thanks.

  • Angela Grassi

    July 7, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Hi Karen,
    There is little research to determine what happens to women as they age but here is some emerging evidence you may find intersting: https://www.pcosnutrition.com/what-happens-to-women-with-pcos-as-they-age/

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