Will losing weight help to reduce the amount of excess hair you're growing due to your PCOS?
Excess facial and body hair in PCOS is usually the result of excess androgens in your body. Androgens are male sex hormones, such as testosterone, that are present in both men and women, but men naturally have much higher levels than women.
In women, androgens are produced by;
1) Primarily by the ovaries, caused by high insulin levels
2) Secondly, the adrenal glands, caused by chronic stress levels
3) Lastly, adipose (fat) tissue, if you are overweight or obese.
If your PCOS is causing high levels of androgens in your system, you are likely to experience other androgen excess symptoms, such as;
- Hair growth (face, chest, tummy, back)
- Hair thinning or loss on the scalp
- Menstrual cycle irregularities & fertility issues
There are a few reasons why you're often told that losing weight will help reduce unwanted hair growth, including;
- Holding excess body weight can exacerbate your hormonal imbalances that are the cause of the symptoms you're experiencing, making them worse.
- Studies show that being overweight makes insulin resistance worse. IR leads to high insulin levels which trigger the ovaries to over-produce androgens. Studies have also found that losing weight helps improve insulin resistance (the main driver of ovarian androgen production).
- Generally speaking, to lose weight you will likely be following a healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise etc). These lifestyle behaviors help to improve your hormonal imbalances.
- Being overweight is metabolically stressful to the body, driving chronic stress, and therefore, excess adrenal androgen production.
So, yes, losing weight *should* help to control excess hair growth as it *should* help to balance the hormonal imbalances driven the hair growth in the first place.
I say *should* because every woman is different, every woman's PCOS is different so there's just no blanket answer. Also, the way some women lose weight (going extreme) is actually extremely stressful to the body and can make your PCOS symptoms worse both short and long-term.
Wrapping up, losing weight should help but, it should not be your only focus to control excess hair growth. You need to focus on
- Lowering body fat levels, not overall weight exactly
- Reducing any insulin resistance
- Managing stress levels (physical & emotional)
- Getting quality sleep
- Taking the right supplements