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Do I Need to Pay Strict Attention to My Weight if I Have Lean PCOS?

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Updated February 01, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Many women with PCOS struggle with their weight, regardless of their diet and exercise plan. There are many women, however, that are classified as having “lean PCOS”. That is, although they have the typical hormonal profile and other symptoms of PCOS, they don’t struggle with weight gain and obesity the way so many women with PCOS do.

It is important to realize that just because you are not overweight now, our metabolism slows down making it easier to gain weight. In addition, hormone levels change and worsening insulin resistance can both cause weight gain and difficulty losing weight.

More importantly, lean women with PCOS have the same increased risk for developing complications like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndrome. Many of the lifestyle changes that someone would make to lose weight or prevent weight gain, are the same ones that would be necessary to lower their risk for developing these complications.

Women with this condition are disproportionately at risk for developing insulin resistance and eventually diabetes if the metabolic disturbances are not addressed. This risk is similar in both women suffering from obesity and women with lean PCOS. As a result, all women with PCOS need to be conscious of their lifestyle, not just because of their weight, but also because eating a high sugar diet can further increase the risk of insulin resistance.

The best thing that a woman – any woman – with PCOS can do is to focus on a maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a nutritious diet and regular exercise. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables with lean meat and whole grains will not only help keep your weight down, but will also help prevent diabetes and heart disease. Drink enough water and make sure to get 7 - 8 hours of sleep a night. Quit smoking cigarettes or using recreational drugs if you use them and limit the alcohol that you drink.

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