Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition characterized as a complex, heterogeneous disorder of polycystic ovaries, ovulatory and menstrual irregularity/dysfunction, and clinical features of hyperandrogenism (imbalance of female hormones.) It affects approximately 4%-18% of women, and has a direct influence on fertility and the ability to conceive (PubMed Health, 2012.)
How Eating Breakfast Affects PCOS
In a 2013 study presented in Tel Aviv, researchers of multiple universities studied the effects of eating breakfast and fertility in women with PCOS. Researchers looked at meal times and how those times may impact fertility in women with PCOS. PCOS is a condition that presents with irregular menses, insulin resistance, increased male sex hormone (androgens,) hair loss, increased body hair, and fertility issues.
The study was comprised of two groups of women who had the same number of calories but differed in the timing of the largest meal of the day. The result showed that the women who consumed their large meal at breakfast had decreased insulin resistance by 8%, testosterone that was decreased by nearly 50%, and an increased ovulation rate—thus increased levels of fertility. The results also demonstrated that the timing of our meals, specifically breakfast, is equally as important as what and how much we consume.
Blood Glucose Levels Affect Mood and Metabolism
Diabetic patients are counseled by their providers to eat small frequent meals during the day to maintain their glucose at healthy levels and maintain a healthy weight. Patients are also counseled to eat breakfast every morning to begin the glucose levels at a healthy level for the day. Patients who fail to eat breakfast may spend the rest of their day trying to equalize their glucose levels, which also negatively affects their concentration, mood, and metabolism and can cause damage to major organs. How does this relate to women with PCOS? Women with PCOS are predisposed to diabetes because of insulin resistance similar to diabetics. The epiphany of simply eating a large portion of your calories in the morning, and by doing so increasing fertility, is a gateway to more hopeful findings.
This is phenomenal news for women of reproductive age who suffer from PCOS and desire to have children. The emotional rollercoaster that couples have to endure wondering if they will be pregnant this month, or ever, will perhaps be less of a bumpy ride with the results of this study.
This not only will give hope to many hopeful mothers-to-be, but it could essentially reduce the need for medical treatment and intervention for couples suffering from infertility issues. Medical costs can vary from $20.00/month for oral medication to IVF treatments and surrogate options from $10,000-$83,000 (IVF cost calculator, 2014.) Money should be no object when it comes to having children and a family, but the truth of the matter is, it is. How amazing would it be if women with PCOS who desire to have children could only have to worry about eating breakfast! This is my hope.
- Jakubowicz, D., Barnea, M., Wainstein, J., & Froy, O. (2013). Effects of caloric intake timing on insulin resistance and hyperandrogenism in lean women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Clinical Science, 125(9), 423-432. doi:10.1042/cs20130071. Retrieved from: http://www.clinsci.org/content/125/9/423.long
- How Much Does IVF Cost? (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://ivfcostcalculator.com/
- PCOS | Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. (2018, August 28). Retrieved from: https://medlineplus.gov/polycysticovarysyndrome.html