Philadelphia conference focusing on PCOS, disorder affecting millions

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
VIDEO: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
A national conference on the disorder is being held Saturday in Philadelphia.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, affects millions of women.

A national conference on the disorder is being held Saturday in Philadelphia.

It used to be thought to only affect a woman's fertility, but now health experts are trying to spread the word that it could pose a much bigger health threat.

Dietitian Angela Grassi will be among the speakers.

She's had PCOS since her 20s.

"Out of the blue, literally, I started gaining weight, a rapid amount of weight," Grassi said.

PCOS is a metabolic disorder that affects about 10 percent of women, but scientists are just beginning to understand it.

It can cause high levels of male hormones like testosterone, irregular or missed menstrual periods, and excess body hair.

The body can't process insulin and blood sugar, so gaining weight is common.

"I was on the verge of pre-diabetes and my triglycerides were high," Grassi said.

PCOS also raises the chances having heart disease, diabetes, endometrial cancer, and mental health conditions.

Genetics are a factor.

Regular exercise, and a careful diet are vital tools in fighting the disorder.

"Foods that can decrease inflammation. So, olive oil, avocado, nuts, Omega 3-rich foods like salmon and tuna and trout," Grassi said.

Fruits, vegetables are also important and women should try to avoid processed foods, and those high in sugar or white flour.

Driven by her own experience, Grassi dedicated her practice to PCOS, with the PCOS Nutrition Center in Bryn Mawr.

She's written a workbook for patients, a guidebook for other dietitians, and the PCOS Nutrition Center Cookbook, with eating guidelines, meal plans, and other helpful tips.

The symposium is at Jefferson University Hospital.

Patient tickets are sold out, but there are some tickets left for healthcare professionals.