A new study from researchers at the Endocrine Society shows that exercise and improved diet can significantly improve a woman's chances of getting pregnant.
Women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that can lead to infertility, may have a simple fix for trying to get pregnant. According to a report form Medical Daily, a new study from researchers at the Endocrine Society has shown that a combination of healthy habits like exercise, proper diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can increase their overall fertility.
The study’s findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common condition affecting the endocrine system. In most cases, the levels of androgens, male sex hormones like testosterone are abnormally high, causing an expression of male-like traits. Hormone imbalances such as this can cause irregularity in menstrual cycles due to the decreased ovulation. They can also lead to weight gain, acne, growth of facial hair and the thinning of hair on the head. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health reports that an estimated five million women in the U.S. are currently suffering from PCOS.
According to Dr. Richard S. Legro, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and public health sciences from Penn State University, the study shows that keeping tabs on the physical effects of hormone imbalances by maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and plenty of exercise can improve fertility in women who suffer from PCOS. Fertility can improve with healthy habits alone or in conjunction with additional treatments.
Typically, women with PCOS also take birth control to help regulate hormone levels and menstrual cycles. Current research indicates that short-term birth control regimens can also significantly increase a woman’s odds of getting pregnant, even if she suffers from PCOS.
Researchers in the study examined the differences in success rates for women trying to get pregnant that were currently suffering from PCOS. The study looked at 149 participants from ages 18 to 40, who underwent a short-term birth control treatment, and carried out lifestyle changes like increased levels of exercise and an improved diet over a period of four months. The participants were all obese or overweight, but were otherwise free of any other medical condition. After the intervention, the participants went through four cycles of ovulation that were induced by medication.
Out of 49 women that took birth control but didn’t implement lifestyle changes, just five were able to successfully give birth. Out of 50 women who improved their diet and exercised more, 13 were able to give birth. Of the remaining 50 participants that went through both interventions, 12 gave birth.
The study shows that women who carried out lifestyle changes and used birth control were far more likely to ovulate than the women who just used birth control. Additionally, the researchers found that the women who improved lifestyle habits in addition to following a course of birth control had better sensitivity to insulin and lower levels of triglycerides.
Legro says that the research proves that exercise and proper diet can significantly increase the chances of getting pregnant in women suffering from PCOS. Changing unhealthy habits can improve your quality of life regardless of whether or not you’re trying to get pregnant, but the study offers an example of just how important it actually can be.