The United States Department of Health and the Human Service's Office of Women's Health reported that at least five million women are affected by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) nationwide. This endocrine system disorder continues to be the leading cause of female infertility in the US.
A new study published in Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Researchers proved the strong link between weight and fertility. Findings showed that exercise can improve chances of fertility among overweight women diagnosed with PCOS. Supporting studies showed shedding as little as five percent of body weight improves one's chances of getting pregnant.
The research team studied 149 women diagnosed with PCOS. The women, aged 18 and 40, were mostly overweight while others are already obese. Five out of 49 women who took birth control alone were able to give birth. Thirteen out of 50 women whom who exercised and adapted a healthier lifestyle were able to conceive. Twelve out of 50 women who underwent a combination of birth control, healthy diet and exercise had successful pregnancies.
"The findings confirm what we have long suspected - that exercise and a healthy diet can improve fertility in women who have PCOS," said Dr. Richard S. Legro, one of the study's lead authors. Legro works at Penn State University as a professor of obstetrics and gynecology.
The research suggested that women who combine lifestyle changes and birth control have increased chance of ovulation compared to those given birth control alone. Women who took the combination of interventions also showed lower levels of triglycerides and improved insulin sensitivity. Legro added that the study findings demonstrate that exercise and weight loss prior to conception improves a PCOS woman's reproductive and metabolic health.
Women diagnosed with PCOS have enlarged ovaries wherein small sacs of fluids called 'follicles' can be found. An ultrasound exam is needed for PCOS diagnosis. Women with PCOS have abnormally high levels of androgens such a testosterone. Symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, hair loss, unexplained weight gain and even obesity.
The root cause of this hormonal disorder in women remains unknown. Doctors agree that the disorder is caused by multiple factors including genetics, lifestyle choices, diet, and inactivity. PCOS can also be hereditary.