From their first menstrual period through the final one, polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS can cause a slew of problems for women. As many as 5% to 10% of women of reproductive age worldwide suffer from irregular cycles, ovarian cysts and hirsutism. In addition to higher risk of metabolic diseases, women with PCOS are also at a higher risk for infertility and pregnancy complications.
Research over the last decade links dysbiosis in the gut microbiota to PCOS. A new article I wrote which was published in Whole Foods Magazine online on behalf of the International Probiotics Association describes in detail the relationships.
While the cause of PCOS is not clear, two hypotheses connect the development of hyperandrogenic (HA) PCOS phenotypes to changes in the gut microbiome.
- The first hypothesis suggests that dysbiosis leads to inflammation through disruption of the gut barrier, which in turn may lead to insulin resistance, HA, and ovarian dysfunction.
- The second asserts that HA leads to gut dysbiosis in association with the development of PCOS.
Both of these are explored in depth.
Treatments may include fecal microbiota transplant, prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics, all of which may offer some relief.
“Changes in gut microbiota are associated with PCOS and correlated with hyperandrogenism indicating that elevated levels of testosterone may regulate the composition of the gut microbiome in females. Moreover, targeted prebiotic, probiotic, and postbiotic treatments may modulate the gut microbiome and therefore help improve symptoms of PCOS. “