Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder of unknown cause that affects an estimated 3% to 12% of women of reproductive age in Western societies (~8% to 13% of women worldwide). Polycystic ovarian syndrome alters the way a woman’s hormones function, which can cause monthly ovulation to be disrupted. That can lead to infertility. PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women who have trouble getting pregnant.
Polycystic ovary syndrome can also cause:
- Insulin resistance
- Over-production of male hormones (acne, hirsutism or excessive or abnormal distribution of hair growth, male-pattern baldness)
- Tiny cysts around the ovaries (polycystic) due to the imbalance of hormones
- weight gain
- sleep apnea
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a disorder that has a strong link to obesity. It is proposed that women with PCOS are affected by both PCOS-specific inherent insulin resistance with additional obesity and lifestyle-related extrinsic insulin resistance. Obesity, specifically abdominal obesity, further increases insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in both the general population and PCOS women. Obesity or insulin resistance exacerbates the reproductive, metabolic, and psychological features of PCOS. Women with PCOS may also display elevated rates of overweight, obesity, and abdominal obesity.
Weight loss for PCOS is suggested as the first line of treatment because obesity is, in itself, associated with decreased fertility.
Benefits of weight loss in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and infertility in women
The majority of research suggests that weight loss improves ovulatory cycles and subsequent pregnancy in obese women with PCOS. Additionally, even a minimal weight loss of only 2–5% of total body weight enhances ovulatory function and is more likely to result in spontaneous pregnancy. More robust evidence supports improved outcomes from ovulatory cycles and pregnancy at higher rates of 5 and 10% of total body weight loss. The return of normal menstrual function and decreased hirsutism are thought to be due to improved insulin sensitivity, decreased Luteinizing Hormone levels, and lower androgenemia. Pregnancy is easier to achieve after modest weight loss. It is also more likely to result in successful live birth-miscarriage rates are lower at lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
Medicines can help reduce PCOS symptoms, effects, and complications. However, eating a healthy diet and being physically active can help you do all of these things and more.
A healthy lifestyle can help you:
• Improve fertility
• Reach and maintain a healthy weight and body fat levels
• Lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer