Omega-3 & PCOS
Over the years there has been a lot of talk, advertisement, and research into omega-3s and our health. We now know that omega-3’s has positive effects on triglycerides, cardiovascular health, depression, reducing inflammations, roles in fertility and pregnancy. But what about omega-3’s and PCOS?
Researching across three clinical studies I looked at the evidence behind omega-3s and their effects for women with PCOS.
The first study I delved into was a double-blind randomized clinical trial (1) on 78 overweight/obese women with PCOS. Participants were randomized to receive either omega-3 (3gr/day) or a placebo for 8 weeks. This was to see the effects of omega-3 supplementation on:
sex hormone-binding protein (SHBG)
free androgen index (FAI)
Participants could not be using omega-3 supplementation prior to the study (and be between the ages of 20 - 40 years old).
The study found supplementation of omega-3s had a positive effect on lowering testosterone and regulating menstrual cycles (47.2% vs 22.29%) in women with PCOS compared to the placebo group. There was not a significant effect found on SHBG or FAI. (further studies would be awesome, over longer time periods to gain a deeper understanding).
In the second study a team of researchers (2) completed a review of all the current literature, to assess the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acid (vs a placebo or modern medicine) for women with PCOS.
15 studies were included (187 were excluded). From the reviewed data the authors found compared to the control group:
Omega-3 fatty acid may improve insulin resistance and decrease total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL-cholesterol.
They do say that there was not strong evidence from what they reviewed, that the omega-3 fatty acid has an effect on lowering BMI, improving fasting insulin or fasting glucose and improving HDL-Cholesterol or effects on androgens (FSH, LH, SHGB and total testosterone).
It was noted that the studies included in the review were limited in their study duration and popular size.
The final study was small and included of 45 lean women (3) with PCOS who took 1,500 mg of omega-3 for 6 months.
They did see some reductions in:
improvements in LH & SHBG levels.
More studies (with longer time periods) will be helpful in gaining a clearer picture for us as clinicians.
But for now, I feel Omega-3 supplementation is a lot cheaper than western medicine, the evidence is positive and there are a lot of other benefits to our health by having more omega-3’s in the diet.
So up the omega-3 food (salmon, sardines, walnuts, seeds) or start the supplementation ladies!
1. Nadjarzadeh A. The effect of omega-3 supplementation on androgen profile and menstrual status in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized clinical trial. Iran J Reprod Med. 2013 Aug;11(8):665-72
2. Yang, K et al; effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acid for PCOS: a systematic review and meta-analysis; Reprod Biol&Endoc. 2018;
3. Oner et al. Efficacy of omega-3 in the treatment of PCOS. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2013;33(3):289-291