Causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to abnormal hormone levels.

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What causes PCOS?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to abnormal hormone levels and is often associated with insulin resistance. The NHS state that it often runs in families which suggests that genetics may have a role to play. Recent research has shown that PCOS is also associated with inflammation and the gut microbiome. All of these factors are important when considering PCOS, but it remains unclear what the exact cause is. 

PCOS and gut microbiome

Women with PCOS have a different gut bacteria and this has been shown to reduce nutrient absorption. This can also impact how the body responds to myo-inositol absorption, insulin control and inflammation.

PCOS and inflammation

High inflammation markers are a key contributor to the development of PCOS and have been shown to correlate with high testosterone levels in PCOS women. A dietary intervention can reduce inflammation in women with PCOS. Alpha-lactalbumin has a direct effect on reducing inflammation. The combination of Myo-inositol and Alpha-lactalbumin means Inofolic Alpha is 52% more effective than myo-inositol alone.

Read our guidance on how PCOS is diagnosed to find out more

Can PCOS be caused by stress?

As we don’t know the exact cause of PCOS, we cannot say that it can be solely caused by stress. However, there is definitely a relationship between the two. Stress has been associated with potentially causing and worsening of PCOS in a 2018 study. Although the study is not conclusive, it does raise the issue of a potential vicious cycle – with the symptoms of PCOS causing additional stress, which in turn could worsen the condition.

Can the pill cause PCOS?

There is a myth that birth control pills can cause PCOS. This is untrue. Although birth control pills do effect your hormone levels, they are not associated with causing PCOS. The truth is in fact almost the opposite, with the contraceptive pill often being used to help manage PCOS – particularly in an attempt to regulate the menstrual cycle. 

Other helpful PCOS information

Potential PCOS symptoms you may face

Causes of PCOS FAQs

How long does it take the average couple to conceive?

Most couples will get pregnant within 12 months of trying if they are having sex regularly and are not using contraception. For women, the chances of success fall quite sharply each year once they reach the age of 35 but It is important to remember that both men and women become less fertile as they get older and the causes of infertility are almost equally spread between men and women.

What makes conception difficult?

Fertility Specialist Dr Gill Lockwood say’s “human beings are actually not very fertile even young couples have a one in four chance of getting pregnant each month they try and by the women’s mid-thirties this chance has dropped to one in eight.”. On top of this, modern lifestyle is often not conducive to having good fertile health. The truth is that, even if you are lucky and have perfect fertile health, there are things that can go wrong at every stage which make successful conception unlikely.

What not to do while trying to conceive?

Try to not put yourself under too much pressure. It is very natural to feel stressed and anxious if you have been trying to conceive for a while with no success. Try to maintain relaxed, make manageable changes to your lifestyle to give yourself the best possible chance. If you have been trying to conceive for over 1 year without success, make an appointment to see your doctor for further investigation.

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