Role of diet in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome

Crystal C. Douglas, Barbara A. Gower, Betty E. Darnell, Fernando Ovalle, Robert A. Oster, Ricardo Azziz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether eucaloric diets either enriched with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA; 17% energy) or low in carbohydrates (Low CHO; 43% energy) would increase insulin sensitivity (Si) and decrease circulating insulin concentrations, relative to a standard diet (STD; 56% CHO, 31% fat, 16% protein), among women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Design: Crossover. Setting: Academic research environment. Patient(s): Healthy women with PCOS not on hormonal or insulin-sensitizing therapy. Intervention(s): Subjects consumed three, 16-day, eucaloric diets, each separated by a 3-week washout period. A frequently sampled, intravenous, glucose tolerance test was administered at baseline and following each diet. Main Outcome Measure(s): Fasting glucose, insulin, the acute insulin response to glucose (AIRg), Si, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), total testosterone (T), free T, A4, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), tryglycerides (TG), and free fatty acids (FFA). Result(s): Fasting insulin was lower following the Low CHO diet relative to the STD diet; AIRg was lower following the Low CHO diet relative to the MUFA diet. Fasting glucose, Si, and the circulating concentrations of reproductive hormones were not significantly affected by the intervention. Conclusion(s): A moderate reduction in dietary carbohydrate reduced the fasting and postchallenge insulin concentrations among women with PCOS, which, over time, may improve reproductive/endocrine outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)679-688
Number of pages10
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Hyperandrogenism
  • Insulin resistance
  • Low-carbohydrate diet
  • Monounsaturated fat
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • β-cell function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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