Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Information, Diet Suggestions, and Resources

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

PCOS is an endocrine disorder in women that can occur when the individual’s hormonal system is out of balance. The cause of PCOS is unknown, but some scientists believe that there may be a genetic component to the condition. Normally, eggs grow within a cyst inside a woman’s ovaries and during ovulation, the eggs are released into the fallopian tubes. In women with PCOS, a hormonal imbalance causes the egg to remain within the cyst rather than be released, ovulation does not occur, and the cyst fills with fluid. The resulting symptoms of PCOS include absent or irregular menstrual periods, infertility, skin disorders such as acne, increased body hair, increased presence of male hormones, and weight gain. PCOS is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes mellitus, and mood disorder. Because of these associations, nutrition in affected patients is important for cardiovascular health, optimal sugar metabolism, and weight control. If overweight, weight loss is very important for the patient’s recovery and may improve fertility.

The Diet

Patients with PCOS should modify their food portions and follow a general healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy sources of fats. They should avoid foods with added fats as well as simple carbohydrates, such as white pasta, rice, cereals and added sugars. Exercise is an essential component of the treatment of PCOS


Diagnosis and treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. Legro RS, Arslanian SA, Ehrmann DA, Hoeger KM, Murad MH, Pasquali R, Welt CK, Endocrine Society. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98(12):4565