You might have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) if you frequently develop ovarian cysts. Weight gain is a common symptom of PCOS.
Ovarian cysts are common and often symptomless. Weight gain isn’t a common symptom of ovarian cysts but can lead to bloating.
Frequent ovarian cysts might, however, be a sign of a hormonal condition called PCOS. PCOS may cause you to gain weight.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 80% of people who have PCOS are categorized as having obesity.
Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amounts of nutrients — particularly sugar — circulating in your bloodstream. When the sugar in your bloodstream increases, your pancreas releases insulin into your blood.
Insulin then travels around your bloodstream, triggering your body’s cells to use the sugar found in your blood. Because your cells use the sugar, your sugar levels then decrease.
If you have insulin resistance, your body’s cells stop responding to insulin properly. This means your blood sugar levels remain high, which can lead to weight gain, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. Appropriate treatments can prevent insulin resistance from escalating into diabetes and reduce your risk of weight gain.
PCOS can’t be cured, but it’s treatable — and it ‘s possible for people with the condition to manage their symptoms effectively. PCOS treatments can include medications, supplements, and lifestyle changes.
If you suspect you have PCOS, consult a doctor or specialist.
Most ovarian cysts go undetected: They can be a common, harmless, and symptomless part of the menstrual cycle. At other times, ovarian cysts can result in uncomfortable or painful symptoms, especially if they grow.
Symptoms of ovarian cysts can include:
- abdominal bloating or swelling
- breast tenderness
- nausea and vomiting
- pain during bowel movements
- pelvic pain before or during the menstrual cycle
- painful intercourse
- pain in the lower back or thighs
Ovarian cysts sometimes go away on their own. At other times, the cyst could burst and be painful.
The symptoms of an ovarian torsion or a ruptured cyst can include:
- faintness or dizziness
- full or heavy feeling in the pelvis
- rapid breathing
- severe or sharp pelvic pain
- vaginal bleeding or spotting (that isn’t a period)
A burst ovary doesn’t always mean you need treatment. However, it’s best to err on the side of caution and consult a clinician if you experience the above symptoms.
Cysts may also be a symptom of an underlying condition like PCOS.
Other than weight gain, symptoms of PCOS can include:
- heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
- excess hair growth (hirsutism)
- irregular periods
- male pattern baldness
If you suspect you have PCOS, consult with a doctor or gynecologist.
Many people gain weight without knowing why it occurs.
Although eating habits and lifestyle choices can cause weight gain, many people might also gain weight because of genetic factors or underlying health conditions like PCOS. Similarly, certain conditions can cause your appetite to increase.
Weight gain can be caused by conditions like:
- Cushing syndrome
- depression and other mental health conditions
- eating disorders
- hypothyroidism, also called an underactive thyroid
- insulin resistance
- leptin resistance, which can increase your appetite
Weight gain can also be caused by medication, including:
- birth control pills
- diabetes medications
- epilepsy medications
- steroid medications
If you suspect your weight gain is caused by medication, consult a clinician about managing your weight gain. It’s important not to stop taking medication without the supervision of a healthcare professional.
If you experience sudden or severe pain in your pelvis or abdominal region, seek immediate medical help. This can, in some cases, be a sign of a medical condition that needs prompt treatment.
You can make an appointment to see a doctor if you’ve experienced unexplained weight gain. Weight gain isn’t always cause for concern, but it can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, which may need treatment.
If you feel that your weight gain is linked to psychological factors — for example, if you experience symptoms of depression, binge eating disorder, or disordered eating patterns — you may benefit from speaking with a therapist.
Do ovarian cysts make it difficult to lose weight?
Ovarian cysts themselves don’t necessarily affect weight, but they could be a symptom of PCOS. Weight gain is a common symptom of PCOS, possibly because PCOS is associated with insulin resistance.
Will you lose weight after ovarian cysts resolve?
Not necessarily. However, if you have PCOS, the correct treatments — which could include medication, dietary supplements, or lifestyle changes — may lead to weight loss.
Ovarian cysts can cause some abdominal bloating, which may resolve after they go away.
How do you know if your cysts are related to PCOS?
Doctors typically diagnose PCOS if you have at least two of these three symptoms:
Other signs of PCOS can include:
- excess hair growth
- heavy menstrual bleeding
- male pattern baldness
- weight gain
Treatments may help you manage symptoms of PCOS. If you think you have PCOS, consider speaking with a doctor or clinician.
A common experience, ovarian cysts are usually symptomless and harmless. Ovarian cysts might cause abdominal bloating, but they’re not associated with weight gain. However, frequent ovarian cysts may be a symptom of PCOS, a condition that may lead to weight gain.
If you think you may have PCOS or experiencing unexpected and inexplicable weight gain, you might benefit from speaking with a clinician. They might be able to help you identify the underlying condition and treat it effectively.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.