PCOS: Exercise and Weight Loss Can Improve Fertility

Richard S. Legro, MD Vice Chair of Research and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Public Health Sciences Penn State College of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Richard S. Legro, MD
Vice Chair of Research and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Public Health Sciences Penn State College of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Legro: Weight loss is recommended for obese women with PCOS, but there are no randomized studies to show that it improves fertility outcomes.

Both Lifestyle modification and oral contraceptives are also recommended for chronic treatment of women with PCOS so that this study has relevance to all obese women with PCOS.

We designed this study to prospectively examine the effects of these common treatments on reproductive, metabolic and quality of life parameters, as well as on fertility in women seeking pregnancy.

The main findings are summarized in the abstract and conclusion to the study.  I would repeat those here.  I would highlight that quality of life improved in all treatment groups, but the group that had both oral contraceptives and lifestyle modification had a significant improvement in their physical well-being compared to the oral contraceptive group.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Legro: Lifestyle modification prior to infertility treatment improves metabolic health AND also results in an increased chance of ovulation and probably live birth creating a win-win situation for such treatment

Another message is that obese women with PCOS who are on the birth control pill should be encouraged to concomitantly pursue lifestyle modification to ameliorate potential adverse metabolic effects and to further improve their quality of life.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Legro: Many women and couples are reluctant to delay infertility treatment to improve overall health,  future studies should examine the benefit to parents (and infants) from preconception interventions  compared to immediate infertility treatments.


Richard S. Legro, William C. Dodson, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Allen R. Kunselman, Christy M. Stetter, Nancy I. Williams, Carol L. Gnatuk, Stephanie J. Estes, Jennifer Fleming, Kelly C. Allison, David B. Sarwer, Christos Coutifaris, Anuja Dokras. Randomized Controlled Trial of Preconception Interventions in Infertile Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2015; jc.2015-2778 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2015-2778

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Richard S. Legro, MD (2015). PCOS: Exercise and Weight Loss Can Improve Fertility 

Last Updated on September 25, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD