Can Weight Loss Surgery Help Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine system disorder in women. About 10% of all women of reproductive age have signs of PCOS, which is a hormone imbalance that can cause weight gain, acne, extra hair, irregular periods, and other problems. Perhaps the most significant problems experienced by women who suffer from PCOS are hyperandrogenism (the presence of excess of male sex hormones), and anovulation, which causes a woman to stop ovulating, rendering her infertile.
Many women who suffer from PCOS are also obese. Recent studies have indicated that women who are significantly overweight may achieve improvement with PCOS through the significant weight loss that bariatric surgery can bring. Below we discuss the role of weight loss surgery as a potential tool to assist patients with PCOS.
The Connection Between PCOS and Excess Weight
Almost 60% of women with PCOS are obese. Many women with PCOS are also insulin resistant and/or have a reduced glucose tolerance. When someone is insulin resistant, their body does not use its insulin effectively to store glucose in the body as fuel. Too much glucose is the system slows the breakdown of fat in the body and creates new fat cells. This is why someone who is insulin resistant tends to gain weight. The problem worsens when the insulant resistant person’s body makes more insulin, trying to compensate for the inefficiency. This increase in supply only makes the body more insulin resistant.
It is estimated that over half of women with PCOS are resistant to insulin and eventually will develop metabolic syndrome, a cluster of serious metabolic conditions (high blood sugar, high HDL cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, abdominal obesity, and high blood pressure) that increase risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.
Since bariatric surgery treats weight gain and obesity, it can have a positive effect on the metabolic processes – including how the body metabolizes insulin. This in turn may be able to treat the symptoms of PCOS that relate to problems processing sugar, such as weight gain. This relationship may explain why weight loss surgery seems to affect PCOS symptoms.
Studies Show Bariatric Surgery Can Help PCOS
Research has shown that weight loss surgery can reverse the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome (such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, etc.) or prevent them from occurring. Additionally, scientific studies have shown a positive connection between bariatric surgeries and relief from PCOS symptoms. The basis of these assertions is the relationship between PCOS and obesity.
One study of 33 women with PCOS who underwent weight loss surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation found that bariatric surgery resolved many key characteristics of PCOS, including enlarged ovaries and excess androgen. The study concluded that women should consider weight loss surgery as an extreme remedy for PCOS. Still, the women with PCOS who did undergo bariatric surgery did report positive effects on their symptoms.
Find Out If Weight Loss Surgery Is Right for You
The consensus surrounding PCOS and bariatric surgery is that the latter can positively impact symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome. While there is no guarantee that weight loss surgery will resolve every patient’s PCOS, it can be a positive outcome of the procedure. Discuss your unique weight loss needs and solutions in detail when you consult with our bariatric surgeon Dr. Malladi.