Having polycystic ovary syndrome puts you at higher risk of developing fatty liver disease. Lifestyle strategies and prescription medication can decrease your risk.
Although experts are not certain of the main cause, they have found strong links between PCOS and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). For example, a large 2020 study found that people with PCOS are four times more likely to develop NAFLD than people without PCOS.
This article examines the connections between PCOS and fatty liver disease, including how PCOS may cause NAFLD, whether PCOS can cause liver damage, and what the best options are for treating NAFLD caused by PCOS.
Fast facts about polycystic ovary syndrome
- PCOS is among the most prevalent reproductive disorders in women who are premenopausal.
- It affects about 6% of all women.
- The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, although recent research suggests that it
may be caused by a genetic change, since PCOS tends to run in families.
- Symptoms of PCOS can include:
The incidence of NAFLD is notably higher in women who have PCOS. Additionally, NAFLD is often
You’ll notice that the language used to share stats and other data points in this article is pretty binary. Although we typically avoid language like this, specificity is key when reporting on research participants and clinical findings.
Unfortunately, the studies and surveys referenced in this article didn’t report data on, or include, participants who were transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or genderless.
Can PCOS cause NAFLD?
PCOS and NAFLD also share some risk factors,
These similarities may explain the link between the two conditions. However, researchers are not sure how PCOS might cause or increase the risk of NAFLD.
Researchers are also considering certain genes that may be associated with both PCOS and NAFLD.
Can PCOS cause liver damage?
One of the possible
Researchers are still trying to understand how and why PCOS could lead to worse liver damage among people with NAFLD. A
Besides PCOS, the following risk factors can also
obesity or overweight
- a larger-than-average waist size
- type 2 diabetes
- insulin resistance
- high cholesterol
- high triglycerides
- metabolic syndrome
Common symptoms of NAFLD
One of the tricky aspects of NAFLD is that it usually causes few or
As of now, there is no agreed-upon approach for treating NAFLD in people with PCOS. But the most recent research has found that NAFLD can be managed with healthy lifestyle strategies and medications.
Lifestyle strategies that may be helpful include dietary changes and exercise to promote weight loss and target some of the
A diet low in sugar and high in whole foods and complex carbohydrates, along with regular aerobic exercise, may be beneficial.
Some prescription medications can also help treat PCOS-associated conditions such as insulin resistance and hirsutism. These medications include:
Please discuss any possible medications, supplements, or dietary changes with a healthcare professional who is familiar with your health background and can make specific recommendations.
Is fatty liver disease reversible?
Fatty liver is thought to be reversible in most cases, and it responds well to lifestyle changes. The most significant change that seems to reverse it is weight loss.
Weight loss can decrease liver inflammation, fat in the liver, and even scarring (fibrosis) of the liver. For example, a loss of
Having PCOS increases your risk of developing fatty liver disease. But prevention strategies can help reduce your risk.
Sticking to a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, losing weight, and taking certain prescription medications can reduce your risk of developing fatty liver disease if you have PCOS.
Talk with a healthcare professional if you have PCOS and are concerned about your personal risk of developing fatty liver disease.