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Bariatric Surgery and PCOS: How It Can Help

21 Apr, 2023

Blog author iconDr. Divya Nagpal
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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterised by a range of symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, and insulin resistance. While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, it is believed to be related to genetics, insulin resistance, and inflammation. One treatment option that has been shown to be effective in managing PCOS symptoms is bariatric surgery. In this article, we will explore the connection between bariatric surgery and PCOS and how it can help individuals with PCOS manage their symptoms.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

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Procedure

Bariatric surgery is a weight loss surgery that is performed on individuals who are severely overweight or obese. The surgery involves making changes to the digestive system to limit the amount of food that can be eaten and absorbed. There are several types of bariatric surgeries, including gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and adjustable gastric banding.

What is PCOS?

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PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects the ovaries, leading to irregular menstrual cycles, excess androgens (male hormones), and ovarian cysts. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some common symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Excess hair growth on the face, chest, and back
  • Acne
  • Mood swings
  • Infertility

How is PCOS diagnosed?

PCOS is typically diagnosed based on a combination of symptoms and diagnostic tests. Your healthcare provider may perform a physical exam, blood tests to measure hormone levels, and an ultrasound to check for cysts on your ovaries.

How is PCOS treated?

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Treatment for PCOS may include lifestyle changes such as exercise and diet modifications, medications such as birth control pills or insulin-sensitizing agents, and in some cases, surgery. The goals of treatment are to regulate menstrual cycles, improve insulin resistance, and reduce symptoms such as excess hair growth and acne.

The Connection Between Bariatric Surgery and PCOS

Obesity is a major risk factor for PCOS, and studies have shown that weight loss can improve PCOS symptoms. Bariatric surgery has been shown to be an effective treatment option for obesity and can help individuals with PCOS manage their symptoms.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that bariatric surgery improved insulin resistance and menstrual irregularities in women with PCOS. The study also found that the surgery led to weight loss and improved quality of life for the participants.

Another study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that bariatric surgery improved insulin resistance, testosterone levels, and menstrual regularity in women with PCOS. The study also found that the surgery led to significant weight loss and improvements in lipid profiles.

How Bariatric Surgery Can Help Individuals with PCOS

Bariatric surgery can help individuals with PCOS manage their symptoms in several ways. First, the surgery leads to significant weight loss, which can improve insulin resistance, lower testosterone levels, and regulate menstrual cycles. Second, the surgery can help improve lipid profiles, which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Third, the surgery can lead to improvements in fertility for women with PCOS.

How can bariatric surgery help women with PCOS?

Bariatric surgery can be an effective treatment option for women with PCOS who are struggling with their weight and symptoms. Here are some ways that bariatric surgery can help:

  1. Significant weight loss: Bariatric surgery can lead to significant weight loss, which can improve insulin resistance, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  2. Improved insulin resistance: Women with PCOS often have insulin resistance, which can lead to high blood sugar levels and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Bariatric surgery has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
  3. Regular menstrual cycles: Women with PCOS often have irregular menstrual cycles or may not menstruate at all. Bariatric surgery has been shown to improve menstrual regularity and increase the likelihood of ovulation, which can improve fertility.
  4. Improved lipid profiles: Bariatric surgery can also improve lipid profiles by reducing levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
  5. Improved fertility: In addition to improving menstrual regularity, bariatric surgery has been shown to improve fertility in women with PCOS. In fact, some studies have reported pregnancy rates of up to 70% after bariatric surgery.

Important considerations when considering bariatric surgery for PCOS

  • BMI: Bariatric surgery is typically recommended for individuals with a BMI of 40 or higher, or a BMI of 35 or higher with obesity-related health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure. However, some individuals with a BMI of 30-35 may also be candidates for bariatric surgery if they have significant health issues related to their weight.
  • Type of surgery: There are several types of bariatric surgery, and each has its own benefits and risks. Your healthcare provider can help you determine which type of surgery is best for you based on your individual needs and health history.
  • Lifestyle changes: Bariatric surgery is not a magic cure for obesity or PCOS. In order to be successful, individuals must commit to making lifestyle changes such as following a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise.
  • Nutrient deficiencies: Bariatric surgery can lead to nutrient deficiencies such as iron, calcium, and vitamin B12. It is important to work with a registered dietitian to ensure that you are getting the proper nutrients through your diet and supplementation.
  • Follow-up care: Bariatric surgery requires lifelong follow-up care to monitor for potential complications and ensure long-term success. It is important to work closely with your healthcare provider and follow their recommendations for follow-up care.

Risks and Benefits of Bariatric Surgery for PCOS

Like any surgical procedure, bariatric surgery carries risks. These include bleeding, infection, and blood clots. However, the benefits of the surgery can outweigh the risks for individuals with PCOS. In addition to the benefits mentioned above, bariatric surgery can also lead to improvements in sleep apnea, joint pain, and other obesity-related conditions.

Is Bariatric Surgery Right for You?

Bariatric surgery is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it is important to speak with a healthcare professional to determine if it is the right choice for you. Factors that may be considered when determining eligibility for bariatric surgery include body mass index (BMI), age, and overall health.

Conclusion

PCOS can be a difficult condition to manage, but bariatric surgery can be an effective treatment option for individuals who are struggling with their weight and PCOS symptoms. While bariatric surgery carries risks, it has been shown to lead to significant weight loss, improved insulin resistance, and regular menstrual cycles in women with PCOS. If you are struggling with PCOS and your weight, it may be worth discussing bariatric surgery with your healthcare provider.

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FAQs

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by a range of symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, etc.