PCOS and College
Going away to college for the first time can be super exciting, but what if you have a chronic health condition such as PCOS? There can definitely be challenges, but most of the time you’ll have available resources to help you manage your symptoms.
It’s a good idea to check in with your campus health service. Find out where they’re located and what times they’re open, and who you can talk to if you have issues related to your health needs. Hopefully you had your prescriptions filled before you left for college, but if you run out of your medication or need refills before you go home again, you’ll need to find a local pharmacy that accepts your health insurance. Planning ahead is very important, particularly if you are taking birth control pills (and/or Metformin) so you don’t miss any pills.
Many college and universities have converted over to a “point” system for their meal plans. Points are often accepted at local fast food places in addition to the cafeteria. However, large cafeterias or dining halls tend to offer more PCOS-friendly foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy items such as yogurt and skim milk. You may even have multiple dining halls on campus that serve different foods and meals. Try out all the dining halls to figure out which ones you like best. Don’t forget to grab fruit and other portable foods to munch on later.
You can also keep PCOS-friendly “go-to” foods such as: string cheese, yogurt smoothies, hummus, cottage cheese, raw veggies (if you have a fridge) and apples, oranges, pears, grapes, energy bars, peanut butter and high fiber crackers, tuna fish, brown rice cakes, and sunflower seeds in your dorm room. Bottled or filtered water should be a dorm room staple. Try to avoid the urge to order late night snacks such as pizza, calzones, or Buffalo wings! It’s okay to treat yourself once in a while, but remember to have regular portions (for example, 1-2 slices of pizza).
It can also make a big difference to have someone to talk to about your PCOS, especially when living away from home. Look into the support services on campus. You may find a support group for students with PCOS or a general group for students living with chronic medical conditions. Stay in contact with friends and family who support you, and/or think about attending our monthly PCOS chat.