Last updated on October 3, 2023
According to the paper, ketogenic diet may lower testosterone levels in women with PCOS, leading to improvement in fertility.
The paper is written by Karniza Khalid (MBBS, MMedSc, Endocrine Unit, Specialised Diagnostic Centre, Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Saraswathy Apparow, Irma Liyana Mushaddik, Amalina Anuar, Syed AA Rizvi, and Anasufiza Habib.
Except Rizvi (who is professor at Larkin University, Florida), all are members of Endocrine Unit at Specialised Diagnostic Centre in Institute for Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The objective of this research was to study the effects of ketogenic diet on reproductive hormones — like LH/FSH ratio, free testosterone, serum progesterone — and collect evidences from a series of clinical trials.
What is PCOS
PCOS is also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome. This syndrome was first described in early 18th century (in 1721) by Italian scientist named Antonio Vallisneri as:
“Young peasant woman, married, moderately plump, infertile, with ovaries larger than normal, like doves’ eggs, lumpy, shiny and whitish.”
The syndrome was formally named as polycystic ovary syndrome in 1935 by American gynaecologists Irving Stein and Michael Leventhal. They also recommended diagnosis and treatment for restoring normal menstrual cycle and fertility in women affected by this syndrome.
The word polycystic was described by Irving Stein as “presence of multiple cysts”.
PCOS affects women of reproductive age (15 to 49 years). Women suffering from this syndrome shows the following symptoms:
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Impaired infertility
- Weight gain
- Oily skin
- Hirsutism (excess coarse hair growth on face, neck, chest, tummy, lower back, buttocks, or thighs).
What causes PCOS?
Till now, the definitive cause of PCOS has not been established. The researchers think that there are an array of genetic and environmental factors that causes this syndrome.
Link between PCOS and diet
Diet play a major role in managing this endocrine disorder. Polycystic ovary syndrome often leads to insulin resistance in women. It eventually results in obesity among women affected with PCOS disorder.
Making changes to your dietary habits can help manage PCOS. Women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome need to:
- Avoid drinks that are high in sugar content.
- Lose weight
- Eat regular meals
- Reduce (or avoid) processed foods in their diet.
- Eat plenty of food that are high in fiber
- Drink plenty of water
PCOS and keto diet
Ketogenic diet has positive impact on women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Quoting from the research paper written by Karniza Khalid and her colleagues:
Following ≥45 days of intervention with ketogenic diet among women with PCOS, significant improvement was observed in reproductive hormone levels, with reduced LH/FSH ratio (d −0.851; 95% CI −1.015, −0.686; P < .001), reduced serum free testosterone (d −0.223; 95% CI −0.328, −0.119; P < .001), and an increased in serum sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) (d 9.086; 95% CI 3.379, 14.792; P = .002). Significant weight loss was unanimously observed in all included studies (d −11.56; 95% CI −14.97, −8.15; P < .001).
According to the researchers, the Keto diet was found to help obese women lose their weight, improve their fertility outcomes, and normalize their menstrual cycles.
The increased insulin resistance caused by PCOS in women can be lessened by following a ketogenic diet. Keto diet improves insulin sensitivity, reduces blood sugar levels and inflammation in women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome. As keto promotes weight loss, it has positive rippling effects on insulin sensitivity and minimizing PCOS symptoms over the time.