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Can Polycystic Ovaries (PCOS) Go Away?

By Lucy Rose Clinic

June 15, 2023

PCOS doesn’t typically “go away” or disappear on its own, however, its symptoms can be significantly managed and even reversed by implementing diet and lifestyle changes as well as incorporating herbal and nutritional medicines into a plan.

This article will give you some ideas to support your health choices beyond what your GP may have already shared.

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Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a leading cause of oligomenorrhea (infrequent menses) and amenorrhea (lack of menses) in women. It is a complex condition consisting of metabolic, hypothalamic, pituitary, ovarian, and adrenal imbalances, with both environmental and genetic factors playing a role in its development. It is characterised by anovulation, excess androgen production, and insulin resistance. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are still produced by the pituitary gland, but the normal cycle of pulsed secretions is disrupted. Ovarian follicles develop and estrogen is produced, but the follicles never fully mature and no ovulation occurs.

What do your genes have to do with it?

In the genetic domain, research has identified several polymorphisms or variations in specific genes that are associated with PCOS. Some of these include:

Certain polymorphisms in insulin-related genes such as INSR (Insulin Receptor), IRS-1 and IRS-2 (Insulin Receptor Substrate) have been associated with insulin resistance, a common feature in PCOS. In addition, polymorphisms in the TCF7L2 gene, which is involved in insulin secretion and action, have been implicated in PCOS.

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Variants of the FSHR gene (Follicle Stimulating Hormone Receptor) have been associated with PCOS. This gene plays a role in follicle development in the ovaries.

Polymorphisms in the androgen receptor gene, AR, may contribute to the hyperandrogenism seen in PCOS.

Variants of the thyroid hormone receptor alpha (THRA) gene have also been linked to PCOS. Dysregulation of thyroid hormones can impact reproductive function.

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Polymorphisms in genes such as TNFα (Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha) and IL-6 (Interleukin 6) which are involved in inflammatory responses have also been associated with PCOS.

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Polymorphisms in genes such as AMH (Anti-Müllerian Hormone) and its receptor AMHR2 have been associated with PCOS.

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Variants in genes like ADIPOQ (Adiponectin) which play a role in energy homeostasis and fat tissue regulation have been implicated in PCOS.

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Having a genetic predisposition does not guarantee that one will develop PCOS. Environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle, stress levels, and exposure to endocrine disruptors play crucial roles in the development and manifestation of the syndrome. Therefore, a holistic approach towards prevention and treatment, addressing both genetic and environmental aspects, is vital for managing PCOS.

Let’s take a closer look at these environmental drivers.

Diet and Nutritional Status

What does a PCOS friendly diet entail?
Consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats can increase insulin resistance, a common feature of PCOS. Overconsumption of such food items can lead to weight gain, thereby exacerbating PCOS symptoms. On the other hand, a well-balanced diet with plenty of fibre-rich foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats can significantly impact insulin sensitivity and help manage PCOS symptoms.
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Exercise

How does movement impact PCOS?
Regular exercise is essential for maintaining healthy body weight, boosting insulin sensitivity, and balancing hormone levels. Lack of physical activity can contribute to weight gain and increased insulin resistance, both of which are associated with PCOS.
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Healthy Weight Range

Obesity is not only a result of PCOS but also a contributing factor. It can exacerbate the symptoms of PCOS, leading to increased insulin resistance and higher levels of androgens (male hormones). Losing even a small amount of weight if you're overweight can help regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce PCOS symptoms.
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Stress

Chronic stress plays a more significant role in our health than many of us realise. When we're under stress, our bodies produce cortisol, a hormone that can disrupt other hormonal balances in the body. Women with PCOS often exhibit adrenal overactivity, which can lead to an increase in cortisol production and exacerbate PCOS symptoms.
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Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

We live in a world where we're continually exposed to various chemicals, some of which can interfere with our hormonal systems. Known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), these substances can mimic our body's hormones or block our natural hormonal signals, causing havoc in our bodies. EDCs are found in a variety of everyday items, including plastic containers, cosmetics, and pesticides. Some research suggests that exposure to certain EDCs may be linked to PCOS, though further research is needed in this area.
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The Role of the Environment in Epigenetics

An emerging field of study known as 'epigenetics' is shedding new light on how our environment affects our genes. Epigenetic changes involve modifications to the DNA molecule that can turn genes on or off, affecting their expression. While the genes associated with PCOS might be inherited, environmental factors can determine whether these genes are expressed and to what extent.
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Summary

In conclusion, while we cannot modify our genes and the potential to develop PCOS, we can make changes to our environment and lifestyle to support our health and well-being. If you’re dealing with PCOS, remember that small, consistent changes can have a big impact. Stay active, eat a balanced diet, manage your stress levels, and reduce your exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals as much as possible.

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