Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and stress at Christmas time

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and stress at Christmas time

Depression is relatively common in PCOS. Christmas can often feel like a time when we should be happy, so any sources of unhappiness – such as the troubling symptoms of PCOS – can seem especially hurtful at this time of year.

I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas, but you don’t have to be a psychologist to realise that this time of year can have stressful for people with medical conditions, or other stressful things to deal with. For women with PCOS, some typical Christmas stressors are:


Most people overeat at Christmas. However, women with PCOS – many of whom already are overweight – might experience feelings of guilt due to overeating.

Even for healthy people, just a single day of binging on high-fat foods is enough to impair glycaemic control and reduce insulin sensitivity (Parry et al, 2017). This obviously has important implications for women with PCOS, many of whom are prone to developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Women with PCOS also are prone to hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels), which is made worse by feasting on the type of high sugar / high carb foods that we see at Christmas. Low blood sugar can cause low mood (Barry et al, 2011), so for women with PCOS, the foods that usually make us happy at this time of year can, paradoxically, make us sad. (For the new year, women with PCOS could consider trying Marsh et al’s low-GI diet).

Fertility issues

PCOS can have an impact on fertility, and reduce the ability to have children. It is often said that Christmas is a time for families and especially children, so women with PCOS might feel the additional strain of fertility problems over Christmas.

How can hypnotherapy help?

Hypnotherapy can help with both the emotional, behavioural, and even some of the biochemical aspects of PCOS (Barry et al, 2017). Christmas is a time for miracles, and while hypnotherapy does not offer a miracle cure, it certainly offers the chance of improvement for many women with PCOS.



Barry JA, Bouloux P, Hardiman, PJ (2011). The impact of eating behavior on psychological symptoms typical of reactive hypoglycemia: a pilot study comparing women with polycystic ovary syndrome to controls. Appetite, 57, 73-76

Barry, J. A., Leite, N., Sivarajah, N., Keevil, B., Owen, L., Miranda, L. C., … & Hardiman, P. (2017). Relaxation and guided imagery significantly reduces androgen levels and distress in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Pilot study. Contemporary Hypnosis and Integrative Therapy, 32(1), 21-29.

Marsh, K. A., Steinbeck, K. S., Atkinson, F. S., Petocz, P., & Brand-Miller, J. C. (2010). Effect of a low glycemic index compared with a conventional healthy diet on polycystic ovary syndrome–. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 92(1), 83-92.

Parry S, Woods R, Hodson L, Hulston C. A single day of excessive dietary fat intake reduces whole-body insulin sensitivity: The metabolic consequence of binge eating. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):818.





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