The Link Between PCOS And Metabolic Syndrome

Everything You Need to Know About the Link Between PCOS and Metabolic Syndrome

The link between PCOS and metabolic syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome, or Syndrome X, affects approximately 50 million people in the United States. Metabolic Syndrome is a grouping of risk factors which commonly occur together and increase one's risk for cardiovascular disease. Due to its link to obesity and insulin resistance, women with PCOS are at an increased risk for metabolic syndrome.

What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic Syndrome is comprised of the following conditions:

  • Increased abdominal weight
  • High levels of triglycerides
  • Low levels of good cholesterol, or HDL
  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance                                                    

Diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome

According to the National Cholesterol Education Program, diagnosis of metabolic syndrome can be made when any 3 of the above risk factors are present. Also, keep in mind that even if you are taking medication for any of those conditions, they count as risk factors. This is why your doctor may want to monitor your weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure after you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS.

Risk Factors For Metabolic Syndrome

In addition to the above diagnostic characteristics of metabolic syndrome, simply having PCOS can put you at a higher risk for developing this disease due to the prevalence of insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and obesity. High levels of chronic stress, which can increase the stress hormone cortisol is also related to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.


Two other conditions are commonly seen in PCOS, although physicians don’t know the exact relationship with metabolic syndrome: a predisposition to developing blood clots, and a consistent state of inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation is started by the body's response to a foreign object which then may spread to other body tissues.

Being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. That's why it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about your risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

Treatment And Prevention Of Metabolic Syndrome

The most important thing you can do to prevent this disease or any of the risk factors is to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.

By eating a diet low in saturated fat can effectively lower or manage high cholesterol. Lowering your sodium or salt intake can also lower blood pressure. Reducing the amount of simple sugars that you consume can help reduce the risk of insulin resistance and heart disease. Of course, remember to eat plenty of heart-healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.

Regular and consistent physical activity is an important part of reducing your risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness-based stress reduction programs also play an important role.

Finally, even a healthy diet and exercise regimen alone are not sufficient to manage some of these metabolic issues. If this is the case, your doctor may choose to put you on medication to lower cholesterol or blood pressure.

Updated by PCOS Expert Angela Grassi, MS, RDN


Mahalingaiah S, Diamanti-Kandarakis E.Targets to treat metabolic syndrome in polycystic ovary syndrome. Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2015 Oct 21:1-14.

Galper BZ, Wang YC, Einstein AJ. Strategies for Primary Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease Based on Risk Stratification by the ACC/AHA Lipid Guidelines, ATP III Guidelines, Coronary Calcium Scoring, and C-Reactive Protein, and a Global Treat-All Strategy: A Comparative--Effectiveness Modeling Study. PLoS One. 2015 Sep 30;10(9).

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