Blogshot: Lifestyle changes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with reproductive and endocrine problems. Being overweight worsens features of PCOS such as irregular periods, reduced fertility, raised male hormones, or increased risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Weight management (weight loss, maintenance or prevention of excess weight gain) is proposed as an initial treatment strategy, best achieved through lifestyle changes incorporating diet, exercise and behavioural interventions.

Cochrane authors reviewed the evidence on the effects of lifestyle interventions in women with PCOS. The updated review included 15 studies comparing lifestyle treatment (diet, exercise, behavioural or combined treatments) to minimal or no treatment in 498 women with PCOS. The evidence was of “low “ to “very low” quality.  

Main results:

  • adopting a healthy lifestyle may result in weight loss or reduction in male hormone levels in some women
  • we are uncertain of the effect of lifestyle intervention on glucose tolerance (body’s response to sugar)
  • no studies investigated the effect of a healthy lifestyle on live birth, miscarriage or regularity of menstrual cycles

Read the full review on the Cochrane library. Visit our Blogshot library