The link between PCOS and gut health is an emerging area of research that underscores the intricate connections within the body.
Written by saumya pandey|Updated : September 22, 2023 7:31 PM IST
PCOS is a common condition that affects women of reproductive age. It is a type of hormonal imbalance that occurs when ovaries create excess hormones. Ovaries produce an excess amount of androgens due to which reproductive hormones become imbalanced leading to irregular menstrual cycles, missed periods, and unpredictable ovulation. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome has affected around 8 to 14 percent of women, other cases remain undiagnosed because there's no particular diagnosis available for PCOS. While there's no specific cause of PCOS, still genetic and environmental factors play a huge role in influencing PCOS. Recent studies have suggested a significant link between PCOS and the gut microbiome. Strangely, it is found that women with PCOS have different gut microbiomes from the women who don't have PCOS. Usually, it is found that women have more diverse gut microbiomes than men but women with PCOS tend to have lesser bacteria in their stool. In this article, we will look further into this topic and find out other links associated with gut microbiome and PCOS.
Women with PCOS may notice these symptoms:
Irregular menstrual cycles or absent periods.
Excess hair growth is known as hirsutism.
Acne and oily skin.
Weight gain and difficulty losing weight.
Insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Fertility issues and difficulty conceiving.
How Is The Gut Microbiome And PCOS Related?
One theory suggests that an unhealthy diet can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, leading to gut dysbiosis, a condition in which the gut lining becomes permeable, allowing harmful substances to enter the bloodstream (leaky gut). This process can trigger immune responses, alter insulin function, and increase the production of male hormones in the ovaries, exacerbating PCOS symptoms.
Recent research suggests that PCOS may be linked to specific chemicals produced by good gut bacteria when digesting dietary fiber. Increasing the production of these chemicals through higher fiber intake appears to alleviate PCOS symptoms. Furthermore, individuals with PCOS exhibit elevated levels of certain bile acids, crucial in fat digestion. Altered bile acids may negatively affect gut bacteria and weaken the gut lining, contributing to a leaky gut and worsening PCOS-related symptoms.
However, it's important to recognize the complexity of the relationship between these factors, including bile acids, insulin, and hormones, as it can vary among individuals. Understanding and addressing the connection between PCOS and gut health may provide new insights into managing and treating this condition, emphasizing the significance of dietary choices and gut microbiome balance in overall well-being.