How Are Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Liver Problems Interlinked?
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PCOS and Liver Problems

Written by 
Dr. Akilandeswari B.
 and medically  reviewed by Dr. Sanap Sneha Umrao

Education: MBBS, MS Obstetrics and Gynecology

Professional Bio:

Dr. Sanap Sneha Umrao completed her MS in Obstetrics and Gynecology from Jawahar Medical Foundation's Annasaheb Chudaman Patil Memorial Medical College in the year 2022. She is a dedicated Obstetri... 

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Published on Sep 01, 2023 and last reviewed on Sep 14, 2023   -  4 min read


The hormonal imbalances in polycystic ovary syndrome could cause liver diseases. Read the article to know the relationship between these medical conditions.


Polycystic ovary syndrome is a medical condition affecting menstruating women. It is known to influence liver conditions because of the constant changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle. It could occur due to various reasons like obesity and genetic factors. Understanding the association between both medical conditions is essential to limit the symptoms and improve overall health.

What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

The regulations in the female hormone levels that occur during the reproductive years are called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). People with PCOS may have problems with the menstrual cycle. In PCOS, there are small sacs of fluid that generally develop along the ovary. They are called cysts and may contain immature eggs called follicles. The follicles may find it difficult to release eggs regularly. Although the exact cause may not be clearly understood, early diagnosis and treatment can help to lower the risk of long-term complications.

What Causes Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

The exact cause of the condition is not clearly explained. Some of the causes that play a major role in causing the condition are mentioned below:

  • Insulin Resistance - A hormone in the pancreas that is responsible for allowing the cells to utilize the sugar in the body to generate energy for various functions of the body is called insulin. In case the cells become resistant to insulin, the blood sugar levels may shoot up. It causes the body to produce more insulin and decrease sugar levels. Excessive insulin can increase the production of androgen hormone; as a result, it may cause difficulty in ovulation. The characteristic feature of insulin resistance is the presence of dark and velvety skin patches which are observed in the neck, armpit, and groin area.

  • Heredity - A few researchers suggest that a few genes may be responsible for pCOS. Individuals with a family history are likely to have this condition.

  • Excess Androgen - In PCOS, the ovaries may release high amounts of androgen, which may interfere with ovulation. It means the development of eggs on a regular basis may not be released from the follicles, and it may result in hirsutism (body and facial hair) and acne.

What Are the Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

The symptoms of PCOS usually start occurring around the initial phase of the menstrual period. It may, at times, develop at later stages of life. A few symptoms of PCOS are mentioned below:

  • Irregular Periods: If menstrual cycles are not regular, they may indicate PCOS. So having periods longer than the typical duration of time could be a symptom. Also, if the period cycle occurs more than 35 days apart, there could be a possibility of pregnancy issues.

  • Excess levels of Androgen: High levels of hormone might result in excessive facial and body hair. This condition is also called hirsutism. The symptoms of the condition include severe acne and male-pattern baldness.

  • Polycystic Ovaries - The size of the ovaries might enlarge, and multiple follicles with immature eggs might develop around the edge of the ovary. As a result, the ovary might not perform normal functions.

What Is the Treatment for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

The treatment for this condition is mainly aimed at managing the symptoms and the hormonal imbalances associated with it. The treatment plan may vary for the symptoms exhibited by each individual. Some of the methods for approaching the condition are mentioned below:

  • Using oral contraceptives, like estrogen and progestin, may help regulate menstruation and decrease hormone levels. This can improve the symptoms of acne and excessive facial hair growth.

  • Sometimes, surgery may be required to enhance the ovulation process in women who have had poor responses to other types of treatment. This type of surgery is called ovarian drilling.

  • Metformin may be prescribed in a few women suffering from type-2 diabetes to improve insulin sensitivity for regulating the menstrual cycle in women.

  • Lifestyle modifications are usually the first treatment choice in patients suffering from PCOS. It includes regular exercising, eating a balanced diet, and managing overall weight. Even a weight loss of five to 10 percent can drastically improve the symptoms of this condition.

How Are Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Liver Problems Interlinked?

Polycystic ovary syndrome and liver problems occur concomitantly through various mechanisms. Some of the commonly interlinked conditions are discussed below:

  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: This condition occurs in individuals who have some sort of liver impairment that is not caused due to alcohol consumption. PCOS is known to be associated with an increased risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty acid liver disease. It occurs due to excessive fat accumulation. The insulin resistance caused due to PCOS may contribute to the development of this condition. This ultimately results in elevated insulin levels and causes fat deposits in the liver.

  • Obesity - Obesity is a major cause for patients suffering from both non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and polycystic ovary syndrome. Excessive abdominal obesity can worsen insulin resistance and cause fatty liver disease.

  • Hepatic Steatosis - A few studies have found that a higher prevalence of fatty liver or hepatic steatosis is observed in women with PCOS. Hepatic steatosis is the most common cause of liver diseases developing in the world. It has a wide spectrum of diseases, which includes the accumulation of hepatic fat without inflammation, cirrhosis, and end-stage liver disease.

  • Inflammation - Low-grade inflammation is commonly associated with PCOS. So it contributes to liver inflammation and liver injury, thereby increasing the risks of liver problems.

  • Genetic Factors - A few genetic factors may predispose individuals to PCOS and liver problems.

  • Hormonal Imbalances - The hormonal imbalances occurring during PCOS could increase the levels of insulin and androgen. This could have an adverse effect on liver functions.


In conclusion, it is essential to note that not all individuals suffering from PCOS are prone to liver conditions. PCOS is a multifaceted condition that may cause liver problems. It is important to make a few lifestyle modifications and maintain the recommended body weight to improve the symptoms of the conditions and their adverse effects on other organs. Regulating the variations in hormone levels can help with a better prognosis of the condition.

Article Resources

Last reviewed at:
14 Sep 2023  -  4 min read

Dr. Sanap Sneha Umrao

Dr. Sanap Sneha Umrao

Obstetrics And Gynecology


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