Sex, Microbes, and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Jan;30(1):54-65. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2018.11.001. Epub 2018 Nov 29.


Recent studies have shown that sex and sex steroids influence the composition of the gut microbiome. These studies also indicate that steroid regulation of the gut microbiome may play a role in pathological situations of hormonal excess, such as PCOS. Indeed, studies demonstrated that PCOS is associated with decreased alpha diversity and changes in specific Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, previously associated with metabolic dysregulation. These studies suggest that androgens may regulate the gut microbiome in females and that hyperandrogenism may be linked with a gut 'dysbiosis' in PCOS. Future mechanistic studies will be required to elucidate how sex steroids regulate the composition and function of the gut microbial community and what the consequences of this regulation are for the host.

Keywords: 16s rRNA gene sequencing; Sex steroid; gut microbiome; polycystic ovary syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dysbiosis* / metabolism
  • Dysbiosis* / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / physiology
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome* / metabolism
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome* / microbiology


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones