Does PCOS Cause Weight Gain?

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

I have gained a serious amount of weight since the loss of my periods and my doctor believes I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Do women who are treated for this condition lose the weight they gained due to PCOS?

Doctor's response

It is still being debated whether the weight gain is what caused the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) to emerge, or whether PCOS causes weight gain. It is known that obesity, sometimes even beginning in childhood, is present in about half of women with PCOS.

In any case, of all the available treatments for PCO, weight loss is the simplest and can be very effective in treating insulin abnormalities, menstrual irregularities, and other symptoms of PCOS. Although weight loss is extremely difficult for some women with PCOS, and women with PCOS may not be able to lose weight without working very hard or seeing a dietician. Nor will they keep excess weight off without exercising every day, or nearly every day. Daily walking that is gradually increased in duration until it is every day will be highly beneficial as a starting point. Your doctor can help you to develop a nutrition and exercise plan that is individualized and appropriate for your age and physical condition.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Clinical manifestations of polycystic ovary syndrome in adults"

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Reviewed on 8/9/2017