GLP-1 Medications and PCOS

Explore GLP-1 medication's promising role in managing PCOS. This treatment addresses both hormonal and metabolic symptoms, offering hope for those struggling with this common hormonal disorder. Find out how it could help you regain balance and improve your health.

Table of Contents
  • References

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is characterized by a combination of symptoms, including irregular periods, excess androgen production, and polycystic ovaries. Women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and can experience infertility. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) medications, originally designed to treat diabetes, have emerged as a promising treatment option for PCOS, helping to manage both the hormonal and metabolic aspects of the condition.

More on GLP-1:

GLP-1 is a naturally occurring hormone that is produced in the gut in response to food intake. It stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas and suppresses the production of glucagon, another hormone that raises blood sugar levels. GLP-1 also slows down the rate at which food is digested and absorbed in the intestines, leading to a feeling of fullness and reducing appetite.

GLP-1 medications, such as exenatide, liraglutide, semaglutide, and dulaglutide are used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, as they help to regulate blood sugar levels and promote weight loss. Since type 2 diabetes and PCOS often have similar complications, GLP-1 medications may have beneficial effects in women with PCOS, too!

How can GLP-1 medications help PCOS?

One of the key features of PCOS is insulin resistance, where the body becomes less sensitive to the effects of insulin, leading to higher levels of insulin in the blood. This, in turn, can cause the ovaries to produce more androgens, leading to symptoms such as acne, hirsutism (excess hair growth), and irregular periods. 

GLP-1 medications have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin levels in women with PCOS, which can help to regulate androgen production and improve menstrual regularity. In a recent scientific review, it was reported that both exenatide and liraglutide increased menstrual frequency and ovulation in women with PCOS - which could help with fertility (1). 

In addition to their effects on insulin sensitivity, GLP-1 medications have also been shown to promote weight loss in women with PCOS. Obesity is a common feature of PCOS and is associated with increased cardiovascular risk (risk of heart attack and stroke). In a 2022 review article about GLP-1 medications and PCOS, it was discussed how many studies support how these medications reduce body weight, reduce oxidative stress, and modulate the metabolism of lipids (fats in the body) (2). GLP-1 medications have been found to improve cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and markers of inflammation, which may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in women with PCOS.

Key Take-away

In conclusion, GLP-1 medications have emerged as a promising treatment option for women with PCOS, helping to manage both the hormonal and metabolic aspects of the condition. The medications are generally well-tolerated, with gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea being the most common. However, these side effects usually resolve over time and can be managed with dose adjustments or other medications.

More research is needed to fully understand the long-term benefits and risks of GLP-1 medications in women with PCOS. If you are a woman with PCOS, speak to your healthcare provider about whether GLP-1 medications may be a suitable treatment option for you! If you are looking for a healthcare expert on GLP-1 medications, check out Mochi Health. We provide consultations from physicians certified in Obesity Medicine, all from a convenient telehealth platform. 


  1. Papaetis GS, Kyriacou A. GLP-1 receptor agonists, polycystic ovary syndrome and reproductive dysfunction: Current research and future horizons. Adv Clin Exp Med. 2022;31(11):1265-1274. doi:10.17219/acem/151695
  2. Bednarz K, Kowalczyk K, Cwynar M, et al. The Role of Glp-1 Receptor Agonists in Insulin Resistance with Concomitant Obesity Treatment in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Int J Mol Sci. 2022;23(8):4334. Published 2022 Apr 14. doi:10.3390/ijms23084334

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