Stress as a Factor in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

As noted in a recent article by Chris Kresser, stress can also be a factor in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a condition caused by elevated androgens, i.e. male sex hormones, which can affect a woman’s menstrual cycles, fertility, weight, and more.

This may be especially true if you:

  • Under-eat and over-train to improve your physique
  • Do not have cystic ovaries
  • Your weight is normal or below normal and you do not struggle with insulin resistance

The article goes into far greater detail on the hormonal cascade that ultimately can lead to PCOS, but in summary, stress triggers your body to produce a number of hormones, starting with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which stimulates your adrenal glands to produce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

ACTH also triggers the production of adrenal androgen hormones, including androstenedione, which is one of the two primary androgenic hormones causing PCOS symptoms in women.