Is PCOS caused by "bad" gut bacteria?

Is PCOS caused by “bad” gut bacteria?

A new research study suggests that a change in gut bacteria is associated with a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). 

PCOS is a common condition in women that can cause irregular and heavy menstrual cycles and can contribute to infertility. Most women with PCOS have high levels of androgens (hormones like testosterone, DHEA, and androstenedione). It is also common for PCOS patients to suffer from weight gain, acne, mood changes, and abnormal hair growth. Some women with PCOS have ovarian cysts but not all do. 

This new study shows that PCOS patients lack a healthy balance of gut bacteria. In humans it is normal to have a community (a "microbiome") of thriving, diverse gut bacteria. But life in modern societies takes a toll on this community and most of us have fewer strains of "good" bacteria than we should ideally have. 

What are the reasons for the sad state of our microbiomes? 

  1. Common medications like antibiotics, oral contraceptives, antivirals, antacids, chemotherapy, and blood pressure meds. 

  2. A diet high in junk food, fast food, fried food, processed foods, sugar and refined carbohydrates. 

  3. Artificial sweeteners. 

  4. Poor sleep and chronic stress. 

  5. Exposure to common toxins in the environment including pollutants in the air and water, insecticides and herbicides, and certain ingredients in personal care products, cosmetics and home cleaning products. 

While many women with PCOS are put on birth control pills, this may be problematic in the long run as it can actually worsen an imbalance in gut bacteria! 

It’s not yet clear if PCOS is directly caused by a dysfunctional microbiome or if women with PCOS are simply more prone to develop an imbalanced gut flora. It’s probably a combination of the two. But regardless of this distinction, in my experience, PCOS cannot be healed without doing deep healing of the microbiome.

Restoring a healthy balance of gut bacteria takes a truly holistic approach. It is neither easy nor quick and there is no magic bullet. BUT nutritional interventions, detoxification, abdominal therapy, and certain strains of probiotics can be extremely helpful along with addressing your individual root causes of imbalance.  

Research studies: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29370410

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02780-x

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/artificial-sweeteners-may-change-our-gut-bacteria-in-dangerous-ways/