A new study has found that weight loss improves fertility in women with a hormonal disorder known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
• Brief description of polycystic ovary syndrome and its symptoms.
• Popular treatments and inspiration for the study.
• Description and results of the experiments conducted for the study.
• Additional benefits of losing weight.
Dr. Richard S. Legro, study co-author and professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and public health sciences from the Penn State College of Medicine (Hershey, PA), gave a statement saying that “The findings confirm what we have long suspected – that exercise and a healthy diet can improve fertility in women who have PCOS”.
Polycystic ovary syndrome means that a woman produces more male hormones (testosterone) than normal. This in turn can cause fluid-filled sacs commonly known as “cysts” to form on the ovaries. Symptoms may include pelvic pain, acne, excess hair growth, and weight gain, as well as infertility and irregular menstrual periods.
Field experts estimate that there are roughly five (5) million women who have polycystic ovary syndrome in the United States alone. The condition is the most common cause of infertility among women, and one popular way health experts currently treat it is by prescribing birth control pills in order to regulate hormone production.
Dr. Legro and his team based their study on earlier research that showed taking birth control pills for short periods of time can help women with polycystic ovary syndrome become more fertile. But the team behind the new study wanted to compare the results of different interventions that may be used to improve fertility in these patients.
To assess the impact that each intervention had on women with polycystic ovary syndrome, the researchers picked out 149 subjects with the condition, all between the ages of 18 and 40, all who were either obese or overweight. Extra pounds are a well known risk factof of developing polycystic ovary syndrome.
They researchers then assigned the subjects randomly to one of the following intervention groups – the women in the first group were asked to take birth control pills, the women in the second group were asked to change their lifestyles in regard to dieting, physical exercise schedule, and weight loss meds, and the women in the third group were put on a combination of the first two interventions.
Each intervention lasted for four (4) months, at the end of which each woman in the study underwent four (4) cycles of ovulation, all four (4) of them induced by medication.
The results showed that five (5) out of the 49 subjects from the birth control group could give birth after the intervention, that 13 out of the 50 subjects from the lifestyle modification group could give birth after the intervention, and that 12 out of the 50 subjects from the hybrid group could give birth after the intervention.
Overall, the third group proved to be the most successful one as women who took birth control pills as well as undergo a lifestyle change enjoyed several other benefits – they had more chances of ovulating than the women in the other two groups, they had better insulin sensitivity, and they lower triglyceride levels in their blood.
Future research needs to be conducted to determine whether or not these changes can also help polycystic ovary syndrome patients who are not overweight improve their fertility.
The findings were published earlier this week, in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Image Source: pixabay.com