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Can Diet and Exercise Reduce the Effects of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome on Fertility?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which is estimated to affect over 5 million American women, is the most common cause of female infertility and accounts for nearly “70% of fertility issues in women who have difficulty ovulating” (according to the PCOS Foundation). Nearly 5-10% of women of childbearing age have PCOS, however, only about half of them are diagnosed. In a recent study conducted at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA, researchers discovered that following a healthy lifestyle, which includes diet and exercise, resulted in improved fertility in overweight or obese women with PCOS. The study did not review if those same lifestyle choices would improve fertility in women who were already at a healthy weight.

What is PCOS?
PCOS is the result of a women’s body producing too many male hormones, like testosterone. High levels of testosterone in a woman have been linked with an inability to release an egg each month. PCOS has also been associated with a greater risk for developing insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

What are the Symptoms of PCOS?
Symptoms of PCOS vary, and not all women will experience all or any obvious signs of PCOS. Often, diagnosing PCOS requires multiple tests. Below are common symptoms of PCOS.

  • Irregular period
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Acne
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Oily skin
  • Depression
  • Infertility

How Does Diet and Exercise Improve Fertility with PCOS?
The study, which followed 149 women between the ages of 18-40, found that subjects that followed a healthy diet and exercise experienced nearly 2.5 times greater success of delivering a baby than patients who simply took birth control to regulate their hormone production. The study found that combining birth control pills with these lifestyle changes improved ovulation compared than those who simply took birth control.

How Can You Treat PCOS?
Following a healthy diet, exercising, achieving a healthier weight, and working with an endocrinologist are all recommended for treating PCOS. Park Avenue Fertility is dedicated to helping patients in Connecticut and the New England area to find caring and thorough treatment for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and endocrine disorders.

To learn more about treatment options, please call 1-855-901-2229 to schedule an appointment with board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, Dr. Andrew Levi.