Link between Exercise, Dieting and Infertility in Women

According to a new study presented in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, females who have the hormone condition polycystic ovary syndrome may be able to enhance their fertility by means of weight loss and exercise.

This study could be great news for close to 5 million women throughout the US that have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most frequent cause of women infertility.

Commenting on their study co-author Dr. Richard S. Legro says:

“The results confirm what we have long assumed – that exercise and a healthy diet plan can enhance fertility in females who have PCOS.”

PCOS can arise when women secrete more male hormones, like testosterone, than regular levels and can result in the development of fluid-filled sacs well-known as ovarian cysts. Symptoms of the PCOS consist of pelvic pain, unwanted hair growth, excess weight and acne, along with infrequent menstrual periods and infertility.

At the moment, females with PCOS may be recommended birth control pills to manage hormone production. Earlier studies have confirmed that short-term treatment of birth control tablets can enhance fertility in females with PCOS.

In this new open-label research, the scientists evaluated various interventions for PCOS – including the use of the birth control pills to evaluate the effect they had on fertility.

For this study 149 women with PCOS were randomly allocated to one of 3 intervention categories. First group was recommended birth control pills, second group went through lifestyle changes which consisted of dieting, exercise and weight-loss treatment, and the third group went through a combination of the first two interventions. Every group undertook their mode of intervention for 4 months.

The subjects in the research were all 18-40 years of age and were either overweight or obese – a well-known risk aspect for both PCOS and women infertility – but otherwise healthy.

Lifestyle modifications ‘important’ for obese, overweight women with PCOS

Following the 4-month treatment period; each individual went through 4 cycles of ovulation caused by medication.

The investigators identified that 5 of the 49 women in the first group gave birth. In comparison, 13 of the 50 women in the second group and 12 of the 50 women in the third group gave birth.

Combining birth control tablets with lifestyle changes demonstrated various beneficial results. The women who undertook this treatment were more probably to ovulate than those who were solely recommended birth control tablets, while also having better insulin sensitivity and reduced levels of triglycerides in the blood.

Study co-author Dr. Richard S. Legro describes the study’s outcomes:

“The study suggests preconception weight-loss and work out enhance women’s reproductive and metabolic health. In comparison, using oral contraceptives only may worsen the metabolic profile without enhancing ovulation. Lifestyle change is an essential part of any fertility therapy method for females with PCOS who are overweight or obese.”

As all the individuals in the research were overweight or obese, it continues to be to be seen whether or not lifestyle changes in the form of normal exercise and adhering to a healthy diet is successful at enhancing fertility among females with PCOS who presently have a healthy weight.

Despite a potential restriction to the research, Dr. Legro promotes this lifestyle intervention. “Making preconception lifestyle modifications is advantageous, either alone or in combo with other – choices,” he concludes.