For those of us with PCOS, keeping your cool is critical. Stress tends to cause PCOS symptoms to flare up. Studies have shown that some women who don’t menstruate have higher levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) than do menstruating women. Cortisol actually interferes with progesterone. It impairs progesterone activity and can promote estrogen dominance. Low progesterone and estrogen dominance are typical of women with PCOS and contribute to infertility.
Collette Harris and Theresa Cheung explain in their book, The Ultimate PCOS Handbook, “Too much stress can have a negative impact on anyone’s health, increasing the risk of depression, insulin resistance, diabetes, infertility, heart disease and even cancer, but if you’ve got PCOS you may be at even greater risk. Cortisol, the active form of the hormone, can be turned into cortisone, the inactive form, by enzymes in the body – but researchers have found some women with PCOS don’t have these enzymes. This means their bodies cannot process cortisol properly, which causes higher levels of testosterone to be produced. So it seems that we may not be able to deal with stress as effectively as women who don’t have PCOS.”
Over the next few blog entries I will tell you some ways that have worked for me to relieve stress. One of my favorites is diving into a good book.