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Everything You Need to know About Lean PCOS: Symptoms, Causes and Management

Published : October 8, 2021 5 mins read Updated On : May 28, 2024
Hey ladies, have you heard of lean PCOS? It's a lesser-known form of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that affects many women but often goes undiagnosed. Unlike traditional PCOS, lean PCOS is characterized by normal body weight or even being underweight.

In fact, up to 30% of PCOS-afflicted people are average weight. Hence it can be challenging to diagnose and cure it. In this blog post, we'll dive into what lean PCOS is, why it's important to pay attention to it, and how it can impact your overall health and fertility. We'll also provide tips on managing lean PCOS symptoms and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Can Lean PCOS Be Cured? The Truth Unveiled

Understanding Lean PCOS

Lean PCOS, also known as lean polycystic ovary syndrome, is a subtype of PCOS characterized by normal body weight or low body weight. Women with lean PCOS share many symptoms with traditional PCOS, such as irregular periods, infertility, and high levels of androgens (male hormones). However, they often have fewer visible cysts on their ovaries. The exact cause of lean PCOS is unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. While there is currently no cure for lean PCOS, it can be managed through lifestyle changes and medications to regulate hormones and improve symptoms. (1)

Symptoms Of Lean PCOS

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms of lean PCOS, also known as lean polycystic ovary syndrome, can include irregular periods, acne, and excessive hair growth. Women with lean PCOS may also experience difficulty getting pregnant due to irregular ovulation. The exact cause of lean PCOS is believed to involve hormonal imbalances and insulin resistance. While there is no cure for lean PCOS, the symptoms can be managed through lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and following a balanced diet.(2)

Emotional Symptoms

In addition to irregular periods, infertility, and high levels of male hormones, lean PCOS can cause emotional and psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. These symptoms may be linked to hormonal imbalances, stress related to fertility struggles, or body image issues.

Causes of Lean PCOS

Genetics:  There appears to be a genetic predisposition to PCOS, including the lean subtype. Certain genetic variations may influence hormone levels and ovarian function.

Insulin Resistance: Insulin resistance, a condition where cells become less responsive to insulin, leading to elevated insulin levels, is a common feature of PCOS. Even in lean individuals, insulin resistance can play a role in the development of PCOS and its associated symptoms.

Hormonal Imbalance: PCOS is characterised by hormonal imbalances, including elevated levels of androgens (male hormones) such as testosterone. Even in lean individuals, hormonal dysregulation can occur, leading to PCOS symptoms.

Inflammation: Chronic low-grade inflammation may contribute to the development of PCOS. Inflammation can disrupt ovarian function and insulin sensitivity, contributing to the manifestation of PCOS symptoms.

Environmental Factors: Certain environmental factors, such as exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the environment or diet, may contribute to the development or exacerbation of PCOS symptoms, including in lean individuals.

Lifestyle Factors: Diet, exercise, stress levels, and sleep patterns can all impact hormonal balance and insulin sensitivity, potentially contributing to the development or exacerbation of PCOS symptoms, even in lean individuals.

Diagnosis Of Lean PCOS

Medical Examination

To diagnose lean PCOS, a medical examination is necessary. This includes reviewing symptoms and medical history. Blood tests are conducted to measure hormone levels such as luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and androgen levels. These tests can also assess insulin resistance markers. Additionally, an ultrasound may be performed to evaluate the ovaries for cysts or other abnormalities. An accurate diagnosis is crucial for developing a suitable treatment plan and effectively managing symptoms.

Diagnosis Tests

Diagnostic tests for lean PCOS can be challenging due to the less obvious symptoms and less pronounced hormonal imbalances. To diagnose lean PCOS, healthcare providers may use hormone testing to measure levels of testosterone, estrogen, and other hormones. Ultrasound imaging is also used to check for the presence of cysts on the ovaries. It is important for women with lean PCOS to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and goals.

Difference between Lean PCOS and Non-Lean PCOS

Anybody, regardless of weight, can experience a variety of symptoms related to PCOS. For instance, one person might have irregular periods and excessive hair growth, while the other person might have diabetes and fertility problems. Two individuals with entirely different BMIs can experience the same symptoms simultaneously. For this reason, PCOS can frequently go undiagnosed, and this risk increases if you are lean.

Can Lean PCOS Be Cured?

While there is no known cure for PCOS, including lean PCOS, symptoms can be managed through lifestyle changes and medical treatments. Weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet can help improve symptoms in some cases.

Nutritional Approaches

Nutritional approaches play a crucial role in managing lean PCOS. Individuals with this condition have a normal BMI and do not exhibit typical symptoms of weight gain. To manage lean PCOS, it is important to follow a balanced diet that includes whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Avoiding processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive caffeine can help regulate insulin levels and reduce inflammation.

Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle modifications play a crucial role in managing the symptoms of lean PCOS. While there is no known cure, maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is important. A balanced diet, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, can help regulate hormones and improve insulin resistance.

Regular exercise, such as aerobic activities and strength training, improves insulin sensitivity and hormone balance. Stress management techniques like meditation or yoga are also beneficial.

Exercise and Lean PCOS

Regular exercise plays a crucial role in managing lean PCOS. It can help regulate hormone levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and aid in weight management. Exercise also reduces stress levels, which positively impacts hormonal balance.
However, it's important to find a suitable exercise routine, as excessive or intense exercise can worsen symptoms.

Diagnosing lean PCOS can be more challenging due to its lower prevalence and fewer typical symptoms associated with the condition compared to other forms of PCOS. Treating lean PCOS includes managing weight moderately, engaging in regular physical activity, and adhering to a healthy, well-rounded diet. These measures aim to alleviate insulin resistance and lower androgen levels.


How can I improve my lean PCOS?

Improving lean PCOS involves lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, managing stress levels, and possibly medication management under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

What is the root cause of lean PCOS?

The root cause of PCOS can be genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and environmental factors.

Can I get pregnant with lean PCOS?

Yes, it is possible to get pregnant with lean PCOS, although it may pose challenges due to irregular ovulation.

How do I get my period back with lean PCOS?

Restoring menstrual regularity with lean PCOS often involves lifestyle changes such as maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, managing stress, and possibly medication management under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Rochelle Rocque
Wellness, Beauty and Seasonal

Rochelle is a person who loves to learn and read new things. Writing is her way of communicating to the world, she writes what she feels. According to her writing is the best way to speak her mind.... Read More


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