Low Carb


How to Reverse PCOS with Low Carb

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is common, affecting up to 10% of women of childbearing age. Beyond menstrual problems and other physical symptoms, it’s a leading cause of infertility.1

Fortunately, there’s an effective lifestyle treatment available.


Here are the most common symptoms of PCOS:


  • Menstrual irregularities like irregular, skipped or heavy periods.
  • Inability to get pregnant.
  • Acne
  • Excess facial and body hair, showing up in a male pattern (including the upper lip, chin and chest).2
  • Obesity



Cause and treatment

PCOS is much more common in women with excess weight, type 2 diabetes, previous gestational diabetes and other results of insulin resistance and excess insulin. This also includes hypertension and cholesterol abnormalities.3 Many believe that PCOS is caused directly by insulin resistance and high insulin levels, like the other problems listed above.

It is well known that lifestyle changes resulting in weight loss can improve PCOS symptoms, and so can the type 2 diabetes drug Metformin.4

Given the strong connection to excess weight, high insulin levels and other metabolic problems, a low-carb diet is ideal for reversing PCOS. The low-carb diet is the only treatment that consistently and reliably lowers insulin levels and reverses the metabolic issues that include PCOS. Therefore, a low-carb diet should be the core of any effective treatment for PCOS.

Indeed, the limited available science shows great promise:

  • One small 2005 study followed 11 women with PCOS as they went on a ketogenic low-carb diet for six months. The 5 women who completed the study greatly improved their weight, hormonal status and perceived amount of body hair. Two of them became pregnant despite previous infertility problems.5
  • A 2013 study shows that even a very modest reduction in carbohydrates (from 55 to 41 percent of energy) can result in significant improvements in weight, hormones and risk factors for women with PCOS.6
  • Finally, a 2017 review of relevant studies finds that low-carbohydrate diets tend to “reduce circulating insulin levels, improve hormonal imbalance and resume ovulation to improve pregnancy rates”.7

Beyond the scientific evidence cited above, the clinical experience of doctors using it strongly support low carb as an effective treatment for PCOS.



Reversing PCOS and getting pregnant

There are lots of stories of women reversing their PCOS symptoms and even suddenly getting pregnant after going low carb. It can sometimes feel like a miracle. Although of course, it’s not that kind of miracle, so getting pregnant still requires a partner, even on low carb.

This is simply biology. Low carb can lower insulin and reverse insulin resistance in PCOS, helping to balance the hormonal system. This enables ovulation and a normal menstrual cycle, while reducing or eliminating other symptoms.

Here are some brave women who have shared their stories:

Professional experience

Many health care professionals have also found carbohydrate restriction incredibly effective for helping people with PCOS reverse their disease and get pregnant. This includes Australian dietitians.

[W]e found an incredible increase in pregnancy rate, in people that could cut the carbohydrates out of their diet.
– Dr. Michael Fox
The fertility specialist Dr. Michael Fox has more than a decade of experience helping patients with PCOS and infertility, using a low-carb diet.

Dr. Fox found that compared to only using drugs, adding a low-carb diet for PCOS patients increased the chance of pregnancy from 45 to over 90 percent! This saves many people from needing in vitro fertilization, a very expensive option that still sometimes fails, instead getting pregnant in a safe and inexpensive way.

Here are two interviews with Dr. Fox:

  • In the first one he discusses the benefits of low-carb diets (ideally below 20 grams of carbs per day) in PCOS.
  • The second one is about how avoiding stressors – like frequent and intense exercise – can make it easier to get pregnant.

What to Eat to Get Pregnant – Dr. Michael Fox4.6 out of 5 stars5 stars74%4 stars14%3 stars7%2 stars0%1 star3%27 ratings2713:06Stressing Less to Get Pregnant – Dr. Michael Fox4.7 out of 5 stars5 stars69%4 stars30%3 stars0%2 stars0%1 star0%13 ratings1310:57

Women, Hormones and Nutrition – Presentation by Dr. Michael Fox4.4 out of 5 stars5 stars60%4 stars21%3 stars13%2 stars4%1 star0%69 ratings6947:53


Dr. Michael Fox can be contacted at the Jacksonville Center for Reproductive Medicine.



Get started

Do you want to try reversing your PCOS using low carb? Sign up for our free 2-week keto low-carb challenge!

Alternatively, use our free low-carb guide, or for maximum simplicity try out our low-carb meal planner service – it’s free to use for a month.



More benefits of low carb

Why should you consider eating fewer carbs? There are many potential benefits, at all ages (although there’s hardly ever a reason for healthy kids to do a strict low-carb diet).

Here are some of the main benefits, and how to adapt a low-carb diet for your specific needs, to maximize the positive effects on your health.

The four most common benefits

More common benefits


Possible, less certain benefits



Improve this page

Do you have any suggestion – big or small – to improve this page?
Anything that you’d like added or changed? Any other problems you’d like to see addressed?

Comment below or e-mail me at andreas@dietdoctor.com.


  1. Anne Ewan
    I'd like to see the sources and references for the studies and more specifics like what kind of epilepsy - any/every/or is this referring to a reduction in children suffering multiple (over a short period of time) . As a practitioner its good to be able to source these and know if the studies are small/double blind etc etc
  2. Alex
    What about diet outcomes for people taking medications that can cause rapid weight gain and metabolic syndrome, such as antipsychotics? Is there any help for these patients? Is there data to support lifestyle/diet changes for them?
  3. HabeebuRahman
    I am on LCHF for the last 6 months. I had great improvements in my diabetes. Blood glucose came down from 178 to 120 (fasting) with reduction of medication to 1/5th of what I was taking before. My weight reduced from 72 to 64 kg. Waist from 37 inches to 32. Triglycerides and HDL improved. Some unexpected benefits also came in due course.
    Great improvements in my neck and shoulder pain. Sinusitis almost disappeared. Constipation and hyperacidity no more.
    Great. Almost all chronic ailments are improved.
  4. Wb
    I was 178 lbs; getting ready to move up to a size 16 (US Sizes). I was diagnosed with PCOS. I finally decided I wouldn't allow myself to move up and started on Atkins (in the 90's) since my Dad had issues before and lost all his weight on Atkins. I dropped down to a size 10; lost 40 lbs, kept if off. Was able to have 2 children. My blood work all improved and I felt so good. Now, as I age, I have moved off Atkins and moved on to the Ketogenic way of life and feel even better. I wish I would have known all that 20 years ago. But this evolution of me has been fascinating. There are still naysayers that say this is an unhealthy way of life, but at least I'm alive, healthy, and more importantly, FEEL great. Probably wouldn't be if I hadn't since I have grandparents that died in their early 50's and I had all their issues. Does Lo-Carb work? It did for me. I'm living proof.

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