Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a hormonal health condition that affects around 10 million women worldwide. PCOS is a leading cause of female infertility with symptoms that affect the body physically and emotionally. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), also referred to as fatty liver, occurs when excess fat in the liver causes inflammation and damage. For women with PCOS, their chances of developing a fatty liver double due to shared symptoms and other risk factors. Fatty liver is a serious condition, but the ties that bind it with PCOS can be prevented if you know your risks and take action.
Linking PCOS and Fatty Liver
There is no exact cause of why some women develop PCOS. It is believed that excess insulin production, genetics, and abnormally high androgen (male hormone) levels are contributing factors. Symptoms of PCOS include irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles, and some may develop numerous small collections of fluid on the ovaries. If excess androgen levels are present, physical signs such as excess facial and body hair, acne, and male-pattern baldness may be present. Many women with PCOS are also overweight.
Insulin resistance and obesity are risk factors for both PCOS and NAFLD. These cause an excess accumulation of fat in the liver. Other risk factors for NAFLD are a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, poor diet, and high triglycerides. Over time, high-fat levels in the liver cause inflammation and swelling. If left untreated, the liver will begin to scar, eventually leading to liver cancer or liver failure.
NAFLD often goes unnoticed until the later stages when the liver’s damage is more severe and can’t always be reversed. However, if caught early enough and changes are made, NAFLD can be prevented.
If you are at risk of developing fatty liver disease due to PCOS, diet and lifestyle changes and early monitoring can help prevent NAFLD. Here are some changes you can make ASAP:
- Diet– Avoid foods that are processed, high in sugar, and high in trans-fat. Incorporate meals rich in whole grains, lean proteins, beans and legumes, fish, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Weight loss– Even losing 5 percent of your total body weight will significantly improve insulin sensitivity and liver fat loss.
- Exercise– Aim for 20-30 minutes of exercise 2-3 times per week.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids– Supplement diet with 4 grams of fish oil daily. Omega 3 fats are proven to reduce liver fat and triglyceride levels.
Don’t let PCOS define you. Even if NAFLD is present, adopting a healthier lifestyle and actively managing it with your doctor is still hugely impactful. Here at Diabetes Glandular Disease Clinic, we offer the best treatment for hormonal and metabolic disorders such as diabetes, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, lipid disorders (high cholesterol), pituitary and adrenal gland disease, and menstrual disorders, and hirsutism (excessive facial and body hair on women).
To learn more or set an appointment with us, call (210) 614-8612, or head over to our website.