Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a very serious desease that has many different complications. Hopefully, doing intermittent fasting can help curing PCOS. In this article, we'll explain how.
If you need to find support while doing intermittent fasting, you can find help in our supportive intermittent fasting community for women only.
Nowadays, many women are diagnosed with a very serious disease, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (or PCOS for short), which makes their life very complicated.
PCOS has many different complications from acne and skin irritations to hair growth on a woman's face and all over the body, from rapid weight gain to pains and aches during the period, not having the period at all worse infertility. Early treatment can help prevent all the side effects of the disease and even reverse some of them in late stages(4).
Even though we all know that PCOS is closely related to obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Some young women and even teenagers who are not overweight and who don’t have diabetes also suffer from the disease. Why is that? Scientists, doctors, and researchers have found that PCOS always follows high levels of insulin and proved that it is a part of the metabolic syndrome spectrum(5).
When a woman gets a lot of insulin due to an unbalanced diet, her ovaries start to produce a lot of male sex hormone testosterone, but also the same reason makes her liver decrease the secretion of another sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBD), which is needed to inhibit the function of free testosterone, so as the result there is more testosterone in her body and it is more active. This is why she has all the typical symptoms of PCOS with hair growth, skin problems, and weight gain (6).
It comes from anovulatory cycles, which are caused by high levels of insulin and testosterone. They stop the follicle from developing at some point, the follicle doesn’t reach the side for the ovulation (the process called follicular arrest), and it never ovulates.
If the follicle doesn’t ovulate, it doesn’t become the luteal body which then involutes, it generally gets absorbed by the woman’s body. So the follicle stops development at the stage where it’s not excreted by the woman’s body and the woman develops the cysts, growing in numbers every month.
If the follicle doesn’t ovulate and if there is no egg, because it is turned into a cyst, the woman can’t get pregnant. Based on the fact that testosterone is overproduced, the follicle development is stopped, cysts are created and all of it caused by high levels of insulin, we see that the main cause is hyperinsulinemia, a symptom of metabolic syndrome which we mentioned at the beginning of the article (2).
The logical outcome to prevent PCOS, stop its development, and partly cure the disease is to lower insulin. We already know the way to stop the secretion of insulin and this way is quite simple and doesn’t take a lot of effort. It is intermittent fasting.
When a woman doesn't eat for a long pee, there are no insulin spikes in her body. First, it means her ovaries produce adequate amounts of testosterone. Second, the secretion of SHBD is not inhibited in the liver, so testosterone is bound by the hormone and is not available for her body. It is the first step to get hormones balanced (6).
What happens next? Because testosterone level is normal, her ovaries work properly. The follicle development goes through a full cycle and finishes with ovulation (4). If fertilization hasn’t happened, the woman's body gets rid of the luteal body and the period comes. The fact that the woman has a full cycle of follicle development and the period, tells us that the follicle cannot become a cyst.
Of course, it takes a while to change the way her body works. A woman needs to be patient and practice intermittent fasting constantly to control insulin levels for balancing all the hormones. The normal level of testosterone stops male-type hair growth, the period comes monthly and usually on the same day.
Intermittent fasting forces the woman’s body to use stored fat to produce the energy needed for proper functioning; that's where the extra weight goes away. Fasting also decreases inflammation which is the main cause of pains and aches during the period, and it leads to clean skin with no irritations. With only simple changes in her lifestyle, a woman can help herself with PCOS and prevent or reverse all the symptoms of the disease.
First of all, she needs to make a significant change in her diet by reducing carbohydrates intake and the number of meals and snacks a day to a maximum of three meals. This helps with hyperthermia, which leads to a decrease in insulin and testosterone and lowers its harmful effects (1).
In the second step, she needs to check her body composition. For those, who are underweight or who are not looking to lose a couple of pounds, there can be chosen one of two simple fasting regiments: 16/8 or 18/6 (7).
What does it mean? During the eating window of 6 or 8 hours, she has her three meals, and 16 or 18 hours she fasts. It is enough to control insulin and testosterone levels but maintain her weight. Significant weight loss leads to other problems with hormones as lack of estrogen.
What about a woman, who has had PCOS for a long time, which caused her to gain weight? In such a case, a woman can start with a light regimen 18/6 daily to lower and stabilise insulin and a couple of times a week introduce longer fasts for 20-24 hours for the weight issue (3).
Fasting is a natural process for us. Many women have noticed that there is no problem to have a long fast because they feel better physically and emotionally due to balanced hormones, they are more energized because their bodies use more efficient fuel-far, they get in shape, this also has a positive effect on her mental health and stress hormones. What is more important is the symptoms of PCOS and the disease itself go away (8).
Intermittent fasting has a number of health benefits. In this article we talk about those, which lead to increased lifespan.
Intermittent fasting improves insulin resistance – the underlying cause of diabetes. It thereby decreases risk factors for diabetes.