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How PCOS Affects Women In Active Service and After

How PCOS Affects Women In Active Service and After

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disease that impacts millions of women in the United States. Obesity, irregular menstrual cycles, elevated androgen levels, infertility, and more can manifest as a result of the condition. As such, women in active service can face challenges with military operations and readiness. Managing PCOS while in the military can be difficult to achieve while deployed or at home stations. Even after leaving the military and becoming a veteran, women face other challenges, such as underdiagnosis and insufficient care due to a lack of research and funding for PCOS. Being unable to manage symptoms can hamper your career chances or job performance.

Whether in active service or not, managing PCOS is crucial for improving your quality of life, wellness, and job opportunities. Though the disease has no cure, lifestyle changes can help prevent complications. Here’s how PCOS affects women in active service and after, and how to tackle the symptoms:

Impacts of PCOS on women in the military and female veterans

PCOS causes a plethora of issues that can affect women in service and female veterans. Irregular periods can make training and deployment scheduling challenging, leading to stress and potential disruption in performance. For veterans, a lack of predictability in your cycle can affect your daily schedule. Weight gain can cause obesity, which can affect fitness levels and potentially disqualify someone from specific roles. Obesity also worsens PCOS symptoms, making it more difficult to manage the disease. If you’re looking for a job as a veteran, obesity can lead to chronic illnesses that can affect your job opportunities and performance and affect your health in the long term. Acne is a common symptom of PCOS, and if it’s severe and interferes with equipment, you can be disqualified from the military. Acne treatments such as Accutane can also impact pregnancy and the menstrual cycle; for female veterans with PCOS, it may exacerbate symptoms, which can make daily life more difficult.

How to manage PCOS for women in active service and after

Lifestyle changes and weight management is one of the most effective solutions for managing PCOS. Having PCOS can increase your risk for chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and more due to PCOS-related obesity.

Nutrition is a major pillar for wellness, as it can aid in reducing insulin resistance and promoting weight loss. Following a PCOS diet for weight loss can keep your blood sugar steady, easing symptoms. The best diet is one that is nutrient-rich, and you can follow it long-term without feeling deprived. Fiber-rich foods and protein in every meal keep you fuller for longer and stabilize blood sugar. Consistent carbohydrate intake—instead of cutting them out—minimizes blood sugar spikes and allows for a balanced diet rather than a restrictive one. Control your blood sugar and insulin levels by reducing your consumption of added sugar and processed foods.

Exercise is also essential; it keeps your body performing in the best condition, whether in the military or as a veteran. If you’re in active service, you’re likely getting a lot of movement. For veterans, it may be more difficult to get physically active. A mix of moderate to high-intensity workouts, aerobic exercises, and resistance training are the most helpful for keeping symptoms at bay. But some movement is better than none. If you can’t squeeze in a workout due to job hunting or work, incorporate movement into your daily life. Take the stairs, walk instead of drive, or get up from the couch and do jumping jacks or push-ups.

If diet and exercise aren’t producing results, you may want to consider taking weight loss medications. These drugs tackle your biology to level the playing field, making shedding pounds easier. Drugs like Metformin lower blood glucose levels and increase the sensitivity of peripheral tissues to insulin. Metformin has even been found to resume ovulation and improve fertility for women with PCOS, making it a viable option for managing weight and the condition.

PCOS can be a burden to live with, especially as someone in active service or a veteran looking for work, which is already demanding. However, it doesn’t have to stop you from living your life and finding opportunities for yourself. Managing the condition can help you improve your well-being and quality of life so you can focus on performing your best in the military or when searching for jobs after.

If you’re looking to enter the working world after serving, check out these tips on writing your veteran resume.