Can Weight Loss Improve Fertility in Women With PCOS?.Although the actual data supporting the benefit of lifestyle modifications like weight loss and dietary adjustments remain limited, a 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that ovulation rates improved in women with PCOS who had lost weight.2
In this open-label, controlled study, 149 women with PCOS were randomly assigned to 3 groups prior to conception: women taking oral contraceptive pills (OCP), women who underwent lifestyle modifications, and women who took OCP in addition to implementing lifestyle changes prior to conception.
All participants were overweight, with body mass index (BMI) ranging from 27 kg/m2 to 42 kg/m2. Participants were aged 18 to 40 years and had no other major medical conditions aside from PCOS or contraindications to sibutramine or oral contraception. Additionally, all participants had ovulatory dysfunction noted by signs of hyperandrogenism and/or the characterization of a polycystic ovary on a transvaginal ultrasound.
Lifestyle modification included caloric intake restriction to 1200 to 2000 calories per day depending on the participants’ weight, with participants weighing 120 lb to 170 lb receiving 1200 calories per day and women weighing 250 lb to 300 lb receiving 2000 calories per day. Caloric meal content included at least 15% derived from protein, less than 30% from fat, and the remaining calories coming from carbohydrates. Those in the modification group also exercised 5 days a week, beginning at 10 minutes a day and eventually increasing to 30 minutes to 35 minutes a day for 5 days a week during a 4-month period.
Women then underwent standard ovulation induction with clomiphene citrate and timed intercourse for 4 cycles after the preconception intervention.