Losing weight is a foundation in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This is a common female endocrine disorder where the cause is unknown. But scientists know that even a little bit of weight loss can improve the symptoms of PCOS. It’s important to work with your doctor to develop a healthy exercise and diet program for you if you suffer from PCOS.
People with PCOS have ovaries that produce excess androgens, which are commonly referred to as male sex hormones. It’s normal for healthy ovaries to make small amounts of androgens, but too much causes hormonal problems, such as menstrual irregularities, fertility problems, excess hair growth, obesity, and acne. According to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as many as 80 percent of those with PCOS are either overweight or obese.
A hallmark of this disorder is insulin resistance. The pancreas secrete this hormone in order to regulate blood glucose levels, but a lot of women with PCOS are resistant to its effects; therefore, the pancreas secrete more insulin, which leads to increased insulin levels. Insulin also stimulates androgen production in both polycystic and normal ovaries, which suggests that high insulin levels that come from insulin resistance contribute to excess androgens.
The main goal for people with PCOS is improving insulin resistance, which is where weight loss comes into the picture. You can help decrease abnormalities in hormones by losing body weight. In fact, losing as little as five percent of your body weight can improve insulin resistance and lead to improvements in certain PCOS symptoms such as menstrual function, reducing androgen levels, and improving cholesterol.
According to data from review in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a diet that is geared towards the improvement of insulin sensitivity is likely to offer more promising results that a traditional, low calorie diet. Researchers looked at existing data on diets for weight loss with different compositions in those with PCOS. Even though weight loss happened on all diets, regardless of composition, a controlled carbohydrate diet led to more improvements in insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, menstrual regularity, and quality-of-life. According to the review, a high carbohydrate diet led to higher androgen levels.