PCOS Clinics
skip to main content
By Alex Allan on 16/08/23 | Inflammation

PCOS and Inflammation

While hormonal imbalances often take centre stage in discussions about PCOS, there's another crucial piece of the puzzle that deserves attention: inflammation. 

Inflammation often emerges as a silent contributor, exacerbating symptoms and affecting various bodily processes. While inflammation is the body's natural response to injury or illness, it is designed as an acute response. Perfect if you’ve cut your finger or been bitten by a gnat. However, when inflammation becomes chronic or dysregulated, it can wreak havoc on multiple systems, including those implicated in PCOS.

Symptoms of inflammation often overlap with common PCOS symptoms, making it crucial to recognize the potential link. Some tell-tale signs of inflammation driven PCOS include:

  • Persistent Acne: Inflammation can contribute to the development of acne by increasing oil production and clogging pores, leading to recurring breakouts that many women with PCOS experience.
  • Unexplained Weight Gain: Chronic inflammation can disrupt hormonal signalling pathways, potentially leading to unexplained weight gain or difficulty in shedding weight.
  • Elevated Androgen Levels: Inflammation may stimulate the ovaries to produce more androgens, exacerbating the hormonal imbalances inherent in PCOS.
  • Insulin Resistance: Inflammation interferes with insulin signalling, a hallmark of PCOS. The resulting insulin resistance can further fuel inflammation, creating a vicious cycle.
  • Mood Fluctuations: Inflammation can affect neurotransmitter function, potentially contributing to mood swings, anxiety, and depression – all of which are prevalent in PCOS.

How *Exactly* does Inflammation Fuel PCOS

Inflammation affects PCOS by involving various pathways, each impacting the other in a complex web of cause and effect:

  • Hormonal Havoc: Chronic inflammation can disrupt the intricate balance of hormones implicated in PCOS, potentially exacerbating the hormonal rollercoaster experienced by those with the condition.
  • Oxidative Stress: Inflammation triggers oxidative stress, a process wherein the body's antioxidant defences are overwhelmed by harmful molecules called free radicals. Oxidative stress can further damage cells and exacerbate PCOS symptoms.
  • Insulin Resistance Intensified: Inflammation can amplify insulin resistance by disrupting the delicate signaling processes that govern how cells respond to this critical hormone.
  • Disrupted Ovulation: Inflammation can disturb the ovulatory process, contributing to irregular menstrual cycles and fertility challenges common in PCOS.

Managing Inflammation in PCOS

Recognizing inflammation as a driver of PCOS symptoms opens the door to a more holistic and comprehensive approach to management. Implementing strategies to quench inflammation can help alleviate symptoms and promote overall wellbeing. 

Consider these steps:

A Nutrient-dense Diet: Focus on an anti-inflammatory diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods, abundant in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and fibre.

Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, which can help mitigate inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity.

Stress Management: Chronic stress contributes to inflammation. Prioritize stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing.

Sleep Quality: Aim for adequate, restorative sleep, as sleep deprivation can exacerbate inflammation.

Supplement Support: Certain supplements have ingredients with potent anti-inflammatory properties and can be beneficial for individuals with PCOS.

However, getting to the root cause of the inflammation can be one of the best steps you can take. Looking at gut health, food sensitivities and intolerances, and ways to lose weight can help decrease your inflammatory load.  Want to know more? Why not book a call and discuss what’s going on with you – just click here to book.

Recent Posts