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PCOS - Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Published: June 9, 2021

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a collection of conditions that manifest themselves as PCOS. It can make people infertile and increase insulin resistance and in turn increase risks of developing type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease. In Australia, it affects 12-21% of reproductive-aged women and approximately 70% of women with PCOS are undiagnosed. It is a genetic disorder and the symptoms and severity differ greatly among affected women.

PCOS is defined by:

  • Anovulation, which is the failure of the ovary to release ova over a period of time, generally exceeding 3 months
  • Amenorrhea, which is an abnormal absence of menstruation

PCOS Clinical Manifestations


  • Anovulation/cycle irregularity
  • Polycystic ovaries
  • Hyperandrogenism
  • Subfertility


  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Negative body image
  • Low self esteem
  • Psychosexual dysfunction
  • Eating Disorders
  • Poor quality of life


  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity
  • Dyslipidemia (high
  • cholesterol/fat)
  • GDM/prediabetes/diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease risk

Associated Medical Conditions with PCOS:

  • Increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational diabetes
  • Low HDL (good cholesterol) and High Triglycerides (Fats)
  • Sleep Apnoea
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Cardiovascular (heart) disease
  • Advanced atherosclerosis (artery plaque build up)
  • Increased risk of endometrial cancer

Management of PCOS through exercise with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP)

Treatment depends on each client’s symptoms and goals and that is why it is important to consult an expert, such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.

Weight Loss should be a main part of the management plan as weight loss improves the likelihood of ovulation and pregnancy (even a small change can be beneficial). Exercising with an exercise physiologist is also important so they can aid in the management and prevention of those associated medical conditions, as exercise improves insulin sensitivity therefore reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes if you fall pregnant and exercise lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Accredited exercise physiologists should be consulted in the treatment of PCOS and associated conditions as they are experts in treating people with chronic health conditions.

Below are results from a study that looked at a structured 24 week exercise program (created by an AEP) verses a low calorie diet in obese PCOS patients with infertility. It shows that  exercise alone is really valuable in improving PCOS outcomes. (Palomba et al., 2008 Human Repro, 23, p642-50)

  • Improvement in insulin sensitivity, HOMA-IR, GIR, fasting insuling - Increase with Exercise++, Increase with diet+
  • BMI, Body Weight, WC - Decreases with Exercise++, Decrease with diet+
  • Menstrualy cyclicity - Increases with exercise+, Increases with diet+
  • Ovulation and Pregnancy rate - Increases 65% and 6.2% respectively with exercise, Increases 25% and 1.7% respectively with diet

All women suffering from PCOS can benefit from a lifestyle change that involves both exercise and calorie restriction which will help in:

  • Decreasing PCOS symptoms
  • Weight loss
  • Increased menstruation and fertility
  • Improved psychological function
  • Lower risk of associated medical conditions

If you have PCOS, or any like symptoms, please call us on 95801985 to discuss. Unfortunately there is not great medical management of PCOS, and working with an Exercise Physiologist has been shown to provide a range of benefits to women suffering from this condition.