The Ketogenic Diet and PCOS: Lowering Testosterone Levels for Improved Health

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormone disorder affecting 7-10% of women of childbearing age. It can lead to infertility and raise the risk of developing diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic health problems. A recent study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society has found that the ketogenic (keto) diet may lower testosterone levels in women with PCOS, offering new hope for managing this condition effectively.

Understanding PCOS: PCOS is characterised by elevated testosterone levels and other androgen hormones associated with male reproduction, irregular periods, and large ovaries with many small follicles. These hormonal imbalances can cause various symptoms and complications, including infertility.

The Promise of the Keto Diet: The keto diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that has shown promising effects in women with PCOS. Research has found that it can help women lose weight and maintain weight loss, improve fertility, optimise cholesterol levels, and normalise menstrual cycles. The study’s lead author, Dr Karniza Khalid, highlights the importance of individualised dietary recommendations for women with PCOS, emphasising the collaborative effort between endocrinologists, gynaecologists, and dieticians.

The Study Findings: The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of clinical trials to examine the effects of the keto diet on reproductive hormone levels and weight change in women with PCOS. They found that women who followed the keto diet for at least 45 days experienced significant weight loss and improved their reproductive hormone levels. Specifically, their follicle-stimulating hormone ratio was lower, indicating a better chance of ovulation. Additionally, the women had lower testosterone levels, which could alleviate symptoms associated with excess male sex hormones, such as excess hair growth.

The study suggests that the ketogenic diet may be valuable in managing PCOS by lowering testosterone levels, promoting weight loss, and improving reproductive hormone levels. This finding opens up new possibilities for women with PCOS to enhance their fertility, regulate their menstrual cycles, and alleviate symptoms associated with this condition. However, it is crucial for healthcare professionals to tailor individualised diet recommendations for women with PCOS, considering their specific needs and goals.


Khalid, K., Apparow, S., Mushaddik, I.L., Anuar, A., Rizvi, S.A.A., Habib, A. (2023). Effects of Ketogenic Diet on Reproductive Hormones in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Journal of the Endocrine Society, 7(10). DOI: 10.1210/jendso/bvad112