PCOS Expected to Rise
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Is a Cause of Female Infertility
Weight Loss and PCOS
Although Holton's weight loss was dramatic, studies show even modest weight loss can have a big impact on infertility, insulin sensitivity, and other PCOS symptoms.
In a 1999 investigation, Norman and colleagues from the University of Adelaide reported that a 2% to 5% reduction in body weight was sufficient to restore ovulation and increase insulin sensitivity by 71% in obese women with PCOS.
In their review, they cited other research that concluded that modest weight loss is more effective than metformin and other insulin-regulating drugs for treating infertility and other PCOS symptoms.
Carolyn Alexander, MD, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who specializes in treating women with PCOS, is very familiar with the impact of lifestyle change.
"I see it all the time," she tells WebMD. "Modest decreases in weight have a huge impact on fertility. Women who lose 5% of their body weight end up coming in pregnant."
Alexander says she also routinely sees patients who, like Holton, spend years searching for a diagnosis to explain their symptoms.
"They are often very frustrated by the time they see me," she says. "There is more awareness of PCOS in the medical community, but it has been slow."
Holton hopes that greater doctor and community awareness about PCOS will lead to earlier diagnosis of young girls with the disorder.
"My message would be, if you feel there is something wrong with your body, you're probably right," she says. "It may take time to get someone to listen to you, but keep trying."