How Weight Management Can Affect Gynecology

Posted on: 14 March 2023


Many gynecological issues may be affected by your weight. A gynecologist might recommend losing weight and changing your diet as part of a treatment plan for various conditions.


Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) occurs when the ovaries create cysts instead of producing the typical egg each month. Eventually, the ovaries become enlarged because they are full of cysts. Generally, women with PCOS have irregular cycles. They may bleed profusely for weeks, then not see another period for months. However, it is also possible to have normal cycles, which are not considered true cycles because they are anovulatory.

When cycles are anovulatory, they are often heavier than normal. PCOS occurs because of insulin resistance. One of the approaches to treating PCOS is losing weight. Unfortunately, PCOS can often be a cycle of gaining weight and having difficulties losing excess weight. As a woman loses excess weight, she may become more sensitive to insulin and find her cycles normalizing.


Weight management can affect fertility and pregnancy. Even without PCOS, it's not uncommon for women with excess weight to experience inconsistent cycles. If you are planning to get pregnant, it can be difficult to predict ovulation when your cycles are erratic. Conversely, if you are not planning to get pregnant, using your cycle as a form of birth control is highly ineffective. In general, women who are planning to get pregnant should work on minimizing excess weight because it increases the chances of complications during pregnancy.

Preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are among the most common weight-related complications. When it's time for delivery, women with significant excess weight may find it difficult to have an epidural for the birth of their child if they want to be awake but anesthetized for either a vaginal or cesarean birth. For cesarean births, women with excess weight might find their complication rate from both anesthesia and surgery is higher.


There is an increased risk of gynecological cancers in women who have excess weight. One reason is that body fat produces estrogen. Many forms of gynecological cancer have hormone receptors for estrogen, which encourages their growth. Another concern for some forms of gynecological cancer is carrying excess weight might reduce noticing body changes that could help diagnose cancer at an earlier stage. For example, during breast or pelvic exams, it will be harder for the gynecologist to notice masses that warrant further investigation. This is especially important in cancers that are frequently detected at later stages because the symptoms are often subtle. 

Weight management can be an important tool in gynecology because there are often additional risks associated with carrying excess body fat. Any current gynecological conditions may be easier to treat or correct with dietary changes and weight loss.

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