What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a very common endocrine condition affecting 5 to 10% of women in the age group 12–45 years. It leads to the formation of cysts in ovaries causing various symptoms which differ individually. The most common symptoms are irregular periods, excess facial or body hair, acne, scalp hair loss, weight gain, and other metabolic symptoms. It is also characterized by lack of ovulation, but ovulatory PCOS are also known to occur.

How does PCOS affect fertility?

PCOS causes hormonal imbalance in women by increasing the production of androgens which are essentially male hormones. They affect the release and development of the eggs leading to infertility. Since, PCOS is also considered a metabolic syndrome, other subtle changes in the endocrine milieu are also considered to be involved in the occurrence of infertility.


Management of PCOS begins at home by imparting lifestyle changes. With a few alterations in the diet, women can reduce the risk of PCOS. The internet is flooded with many articles on the PCOS diet with conflicting information, which is why it is important to know how your body works and make necessary dietary changes that can help you. Always remember the purpose of your dieting to keep yourself motivated.

Testosterone, a hormone that works in unison with insulin levels is the main culprit which causes a majority of the symptoms of PCOS. Higher insulin level leads to the accumulation of excess fat and makes it almost impossible to lose weight. However, the insulin level can be controlled by watching what we eat. Hence, it should be the prime focus behind an effective PCOS diet.

Types of food recommended for PCOS

Low glycemic index

Glycemic spikes the insulin levels. Women with PCOS who wish to become pregnant should consume food items that are low in glycemic index. Eat whole grain cereals, pulses, and vegetables, soy milk, oatmeal, legumes, multigrain bread, low-fat yogurt. Prefer fruits over juices. Avoid processed products, white rice, flour, corn flakes, potatoes, and similar food with a high glycemic index.


Spinach, green tea, beans, lentils, dark chocolate, coconut, and turmeric are anti-inflammatory. These foods help in controlling insulin levels.


Consuming high-fiber food keeps you full for a longer duration and helps you avoid unwanted calorie intake. High fiber food can also reduce inflammation, eliminate toxins and help in weight loss. A diet rich in fiber should include fruits, vegetables, sprouts, flax seeds, and brown rice.

Rich in Omega 3

Food rich in omega 3 helps in reducing inflammation. Include items like fish, eggs, walnuts, etc. in your diet and replace the regular oil with olive oil for cooking.

While these foods are highly recommended for women with PCOS to get pregnant, a particular diet may not work for every woman. Make a personalized diet plan based on your calorie requirements. Also, note that depriving oneself of food is not a solution as it can lead to undernourishment. Eating in regular intervals is a good way to control the portion and meet daily calorie requirements. Avoid binge eating and drinking. Along with a structured diet plan, it is also important to exercise regularly and have a healthy lifestyle.

If you’re unsure about your diet structure, it is always recommended to see a diet consultant. Being aware and careful is all that you need to control PCOS. Visit us at the nearest Milann Fertility Clinic for an expert advice and personalized care.


Cereals and Grains 6-8 servings

( ½ cup rice or 1 slice bread or 1 roti)

Ragi, Jowar, Bajra, Maize, Rolled Oats, Whole wheat roti, Multigrain bread, Brown rice, unpolished rice, whole millets. Major source of calories and fiber.

Pick low salt or salt-free options.

Vegetables 4-5 servings

½  cup cooked

1  cup raw


Can consume all green leafy vegetables and other vegetables.

Take root vegetables 50 gm per day as they are high in starch.

Rich source of potassium, magnesium and fiber.

Always pick fresh options, avoid canned vegetables.

Fruits 4-5 servings

1 fist size

½ cup cut

Guava, Papaya, Citrus fruits like Orange, Sweet Lime, Apple, Pomegranate, Berries, Avocado, Plum, Papaya, Water Melon, Musk Melon. Rich sources of potassium, magnesium and fiber.

Pick unprocessed and fresh fruits.

Low-fat dairy 2-3 servings

1 glass milk

1 cup curd

¼ cup paneer

Low fat paneer, Curd, Buttermilk. A major source of calcium and protein.

Avoid processed cheese.

Meats, fish & poultry 2 or less servings

1 medium egg

deck or card size piece of meat

Skinless chicken, lean meats

Egg whites

Fish: Mackerel, Sardines, Halibut, Carp, Eel, Swordfish, Salmon, Trout, Herring, Snapper

Rich source of protein and magnesium.

Avoid ham, bacon, sausages.

Avoid fried meats, egg or fish

Avoid cuts of meat that are marbled with fat.

Nuts and Seeds 2-5/week

2 tbsp of seeds

45 g of nuts

Seeds: Flax seeds, Sunflower seeds, Sesame seeds

Nuts: Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios

Rich source of protein, potassium and fibre.

Always pick raw, unsalted varieties.

Fats and Oils 5 ml or 1 tab Vegetable oils like Canola, Olive, Rice Bran, Mustard, Sesame Source of essential fats like omega-3 fatty acids.

Avoid trans fats like hydrogenated fat, used in commercially processed food.

Salt 6 g or less/day

(or 2300mg of sodium)

Salt restriction is an essential part of the plan. It should be strictly followed by “salt sensitive” individuals and older adults. Start by cutting back on processed foods that have high amounts of salt and sodium.


Tips to help you make better choices:

  • Fresh: Always pick fresh fruits and vegetables and not processed or canned ones as the sodium content in fresh fruits and vegetables is low.
  • Herbs and Seasoning: Instead of salt, add spices and herbs to flavour your food. You can also use lime or vinegar to your salads and vegetables to enhance the flavour.
  • Read Nutrition Facts Label: Every packaged food has nutrition facts label on it. Read it carefully to find out the salt and sugar content.
  • Avoid dairy – It raises testosterone levels. Maximum intake should be 250 ml of low-fat milk or milk products per day.
  • Processed foods should be avoided. They cause inflammation and can spike the insulin levels.
  • Avoid fried food and avoid sweets

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