PCOS and Gut Health: What’s the link?

PCOS and gut health – an overview

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder affecting individuals of reproductive age. While the associated symptoms and diagnostic criteria are widely agreed upon, the exact cause is not clear. However recent studies have suggested there is a close association between the gut microbiome and PCOS.

Understanding the gut microbiome

The gut microbiome is a community of diverse bacteria within the intestines. In fact, our bodies contain ten times more microbes than human cells, with the majority working to maintain our health. This community plays an important role in immunity, gut health, digestion and production of macro and micronutrients, metabolism and neurological functions – pretty important stuff! Therefore, it’s not surprising that alterations in the gut microbiome have been associated with certain disorders and diseases.

A picture of sprouts with an article about gut health and the link with PCOS

The link between PCOS and gut health

Studies have found that individuals with PCOS have less diverse gut bacteria than those without the condition. This was shown to be related to an increase in androgens, a common symptom of PCOS.

Therefore, it might not come as a surprise that recent studies have found individuals with PCOS may have a higher prevalence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS. Both conditions have been linked with gastrointestinal functioning and sensitivity to stress.

How to support our gut health

One of the best ways to improve our gut health is to eat a varied diet, incorporating plenty of plant-based foods. Why? – because different bacteria will use different plant-based fibre to grow and for energy, therefore diversifying your diet leads to a more diverse microbiota. The best way to do this is to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains.

As well as a balanced diet, lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress management have been shown to help the gut microbiota, also known to help improve the symptoms of PCOS!


  1. Zhao et al., 2020

  2. Rizk and Thackray, 2020

  3. Yufeng et al., 2021

  4. Adak and Khan, 2018

  5. Gentile and Weir, 2018

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