Overweight and obese anovulatory patients with polycystic ovaries: parallel improvements in anthropometric indices, ovarian physiology and fertility rate induced by diet

Hum Reprod. 2003 Sep;18(9):1928-32. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deg367.


Background: This prospective study evaluated the effect of weight reduction on anthropometric indices and ovarian morphology in anovulatory overweight patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Methods: Thirty-three anovulatory overweight patients with PCOS were enrolled in the study. All had patent Fallopian tubes and chronic anovulation: 27 of them were oligo-amenorrhoeic. The partners were normospermic. Patients were prescribed a 1200 kcal/day diet, and physical exercise was recommended. Anthropometric indices and ovarian imaging parameters were assessed at baseline and after weight loss of 5 and 10%.

Results: Twenty-five patients (76%) lost at least 5% of their body weight. Eleven of these patients (33%) reached a 10% decrease in weight. Waist circumference at the umbilical level, hip circumference, four skin folds, body mass index and fatty mass ratio were significantly reduced after 5 and 10% weight loss. Ovarian morphology changed during the diet: we observed a significant reduction in ovarian volume and in the number of microfollicles per ovary. Among the 27 patients with oligo-amenorrhoea, 18 had a resumption of regular cycles and 15 experienced spontaneous ovulation; 10 spontaneous pregnancies occurred in patients who lost at least 5% of their weight.

Conclusions: Weight loss through a controlled low-calorie diet improves anthropometric indices in obese PCOS patients, reduces ovarian volume and microfollicle number and can restore ovulatory cycles, allowing spontaneous pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging
  • Adult
  • Anovulation / complications*
  • Anovulation / physiopathology
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Constitution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / diagnostic imaging
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Ovary / diagnostic imaging
  • Ovary / physiopathology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / diagnostic imaging
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Ultrasonography