Weight loss, exercise may boost fertility odds for women with PCOS
Women with PCOS often experience irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, excess hair on the face and body and infertility
Women who suffer from a leading cause of infertility may increase their odds of conception if they exercise and lose weight, a U.S. study suggests.
Researchers compared pregnancy outcomes for 150 women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that occurs when the female body makes higher than normal amounts of testosterone and androgens, sex hormones associated with male traits.
Among three groups of women, those who exercised lost the most weight and had more live births than those who didn’t.
Women with PCOS often experience irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, excess hair on the face and body and infertility. They may take birth control pills to boost female hormones and regulate ovulation for several months before trying to get pregnant. This is thought to improve their odds of success once they stop taking contraceptives and start trying to conceive.
For the first four months of the study, one third of the women took birth control pills for that purpose, while a second group was directed to exercise and follow a low-calorie diet. A third group got both of these interventions.
After that initial phase, women taking contraceptives stopped. At this point all of the women went through four cycles of medically induced ovulation, designed to help them get pregnant.
Among 49 women in the initial birth control group, five had babies. That compared with 13 babies for the 50 women assigned to diet and exercise at the start of the study and 12 infants for women who got a combination of both interventions.
The study was too small to show a statistically meaningful difference in pregnancy outcomes between the two groups who dieted and exercised, the authors acknowledge in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
But the results suggest that exercise and weight loss might play a bigger role in conception than just regulating ovulation with birth control pills before trying to conceive, said lead study author Dr. Richard Legro of Pennsylvania State College of Medicine in Hershey.