Stress and PCOS

Stress and PCOS

If you’ve read my past two blog posts on PCOS, you’ll know that it’s something I’ve been keen to share my experiences with. I’ve really noticed that people these days tend to be driven by stress which is something that could be considered a masculine trait i.e. being a driven individual = STRESS!

Reducing stress

I am revisiting some tips from my first blog post that I have found helped me manage my PCOS. Ultimately it comes down to reducing stress levels and toxins. Women with PCOS are thought to have higher levels of anxiety and depression than those without, which is significantly affected by lifestyle factors including diet, exercise and stress.

Stress affects everyone in some way or another. I always try to adapt my lifestyle where possible to make it less stressful:

  • If you’re feeling stressed, really think about what it is that’s stressing you out, and see whether you can adapt something in order to remove the problem that’s causing you stress.
  • Take some time for yourself, be mindful, exercise, breathe, do yoga, eat well and organic where possible, hydrate and reduce toxins, smile and get lots of sleep.

These are just some of the things I like to do to help me calm down and relax.

Connect with your feminine energy



I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog post, but when I was at the very start of my PCOS journey, a healer identified my energy as more masculine which inspired me to pursue more feminine/creative ways to nurture my inner Goddess! Showing ourselves love is a wonderful way to reduce stress mindfully and bring the inner glow to the surface, and this can be a number of things. For example, going for a spa day, spending an evening cooking up a storm with your girlfriends or even a shopping trip! I love spending time with my mum and sister which is just one of the ways I connect to my feminine energy.

The science behind stress and PCOS

Apart from the daily stresses of life, we place additional stresses on our bodies in the way we eat, exercise and our inner voice or self talk. If you constantly put yourself down with negative messages and place stress on the body and this disrupts the hormonal/endocrine system – resulting in the possibility for PCOS.

Now for the sciency part: We’ve all heard of the fight or flight response and when we are under constant stress, even if low level this response in the body stays active. It then creates sequences of nerve cell firing and this releases chemicals such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol into our bloodstream.

The pituitary gland is central to the stress circuit; the brain region called the hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in response to stress.  This in turn stimulates the adrenals to produce cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

ACTH also stimulates the production of the adrenal androgen hormones of which raised levels are believed to contribute to PCOS.

It is now considered that PCOS need not necessarily involve ovarian cysts but women can also develop “adrenal PCOS” that causes symptoms similar to ovarian cyst-driven PCOS.

All of this then has the knock on effect of creating more stress as our self-esteem takes a plunge!

We’re often very hard on ourselves these days, thinking things like “she’s prettier than me”, “I don’t have what she has”, “I hate my tummy”.

A poor body image pushes us to exercise more, diet more and achieve more which creates lots of stress! Cut yourself some slack – start thinking positive thoughts about yourself. I repeat a positive affirmation every morning, and looking at websites and social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself should be unfollowed. Cut yourself some slack, it’s going to reduce stress and break you out of that disruptive hormonal feedback loop.

Move, Munch, Meditate!


In my Glow Guides App the foundations are Move, Munch and Meditate!

The meditate programme is all about relaxation and recuperation. In some ways it is my favourite section of the Glow Guides, and the one I am most proud of. I really believe meditation is so often overlooked.  Mindfulness, relaxation and stress reduction is essential to meditation, and key to alleviating the effects of PCOS.

I hope this insight into stress and PCOS will inspire you to tap into your creative core and connect to your female energy, and this is not exclusive to us ladies! We are all made up of feminine and masculine energy and it is finding the balance between the two that empowers us.


  • steven leitao

    Stress is one of the problems that we face today, which has resulted, due to a heavy change in our lifestyle, diet, culture and work pressure.

    Women go through a lot of stress and especially working women.
    They need emotional, physical and especially mental support in these time; Families and friends should be understanding and supportive.

    More importantly, Stress should be brought to light and more people should be made aware of it, I wasn’t aware of PCOD/ PCOS, my wife educated me about it. If people are made aware of it, more will they understand and be supportive.

  • mariamesias

    thanks for this. i was diagnosed nearly 20 years ago when the only information on the web were chat rooms in the USA. It was a real struggle to get it diagnosed and even then i ended up teaching our doctor about it! These apps are great XX

    • Madeleine Shaw

      Thank you so much gorgeous. I know, the internet is a blessing and a curse! I’m so glad you are finally finding the help. xx

  • Mariya

    Hi Madeleine, I have purchased the glow guides but have yet to start them :( Would you say that diet provided on glow guides is PCOS friendly ? thank you !

  • Bella Evans

    Thank you for a wonderful and uplifting post that not only helps all of us suffering with PCOS but helps those who don’t know what it is and don’t understand what we are all going through. I was diagnosed with PCOS a year ago now and since then have had to change my world upside down in terms of diet, exercise and skin care regime as I have hugely suffered with the side effect of bad skin. I am so happy to say though that since cutting out gluten, dairy and refined sugar and using only natural make up and Natural products by Dermaviduals (highly recommend) I have got myself to a more confident place, still a long way to go though. Good luck to everyone suffering with PCOS, we can get through this!!

    • Madeleine Shaw

      That’s amazing news babe, so proud of you! Sounds like you’ve made such positive changes keep going strong you can do this xxxx

  • Sharna Boyling

    Thank you for posting about pcos and rasing awareness of it. I have been diagnosed with it for 6month and my cycle is all over the place. I am going to try bring some yoga into my life, I totally understand that stress plays a massive part in how our hormones behave! Thanks again and will look forward to you posting more about how you manage it xx

    • Madeleine Shaw

      Thanks babe, I hope you get better soon! Stay strong you’re amazing xxxx

  • Penny M

    Thanks Madeleine! i’ve had pcos for over 4 years now.. no periods since and have overhauled my life in terms of skincare, (changed shampoos/deodrants, creams to be natural) organic foods where possible, low starches.. natural herbs, no plastic tupperware.. yoga but nothing has triggered a hormonal change! i recently read about natural hormone creams as i’m opposed to going on the pill.. what do you think of this? thanks a bunch ! xx

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