Weight loss and exercise can improve fertility for polycystic ovary patients

September 30, 2015

HERSHEY, Pa. -- Weight loss and exercise improve ovulation in women who have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a common hormone disorder that often causes infertility, according to a new study by a team including Penn State Hershey’s Dr. Richard Legro.

“The findings confirm what we have long suspected – that exercise and a healthy diet can improve fertility in women who have PCOS,” said Legro, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology. “Making preconception lifestyle changes is beneficial, either alone or in combination with other pretreatment options.”

Women with PCOS often take birth control pills to regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce the level of androgens in the body. Past research has indicated that pretreatment with a short-term course of birth control pills can raise pregnancy rates among women with PCOS. The new research was designed to compare preconception interventions and their impact on fertility. It was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The randomized open-label study examined the differences in pregnancy outcomes among 149 women with PCOS who either took birth control pills, underwent lifestyle modification or a combination of the two interventions for a four-month period.

Among the 49 women assigned to the birth control intervention, five gave birth. Of the 50 women in the lifestyle intervention group, 13 delivered babies. Twelve of the 50 women in the combination group gave birth.

Women who participated in the lifestyle modification intervention and took birth control pills were more likely to ovulate than women who were assigned to take birth control pills. In addition, women in the lifestyle and combination arms of the study had better insulin sensitivity and lower levels of triglycerides – a type of fat found in the blood – than women who took birth control pills.

“The research indicates preconception weight loss and exercise improve women’s reproductive and metabolic health,” Legro said. “In contrast, using oral contraceptives alone may worsen the metabolic profile without improving ovulation. Lifestyle change is an important part of any fertility treatment approach for women with PCOS who are overweight or obese.”

Read the full press release.

Source: The Endocrine Society

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 30, 2015