Fertility: Exercise And Weight Loss Help PCOS Women Get Pregnant

First Posted: Sep 25, 2015 03:55 PM EDT

New findings published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reveal that a little exercise and weight loss can improve ovulation in women who may be dealing with hormonal disorders that increase infertility, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

PCOS is known as the most common cause of female infertility and typically occurs when a woman's body produces slightly higher than normal amounts of testosterone and certain sex hormones associated with male traits; this can result in an hormonal imbalance that may cause irregular or absent menstrual periods, acne, excess hair on certain parts of the body, including the face and the body and even thinning hair on the head.

In this recent study, researchers collected and analyzed data from close to 150 women with PCOS who either took birth control, underwent lifestyle modification or a combination of the two interventions for a four-month period. The participants were between the ages of 18 and 40. The women were either overweight or obese, but had no other major medical conditions. After the intervention, the participants underwent four cycles of ovulation induced by medication.

Five of the 49 women assigned to the birth control intervention gave birth. Of the 50 in the lifestyle intervention group, 13 delivered babies and 12 of the 50 in the combination group gave birth.

Findings revealed that women who participated in the lifestyle modification intervention and took birth control pills were more likely to ovulate than those who were assigned to just take birth control pills. Furthermore, women in the lifestyle and combination intrevention showed better insulin sensitivity and lower triglyceride levels than counterparts who took birth control pills.

"The research indicates preconception weight loss and exercise improve women's reproductive and metabolic health," Richard S. Legro, one of the study's authors and vice chair of Research and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine, said in a statement. "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."

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