Can CBD Work for treating PCOS? Read Hemppedia's guide for a detailed review of the effect of Cannabidiol (CBD) on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Research has shown CBD oil can help balance blood sugar, support mood, and promote weight loss. View the best CBD oils for PCOS. Can Cannabidiol be used as a PCOS supplement? People are talking about the potential benefits of this compound for anxiety, blood sugar control & more.
CBD for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Would you consider cannabidiol as a possible treatment of the symptoms of PCOS?
Success has been shown in CBD treating anxiety, pain, PMS, and sleep issues. CBD’s anxiolytic, non-psychoactive properties can potentially be beneficial for PCOS patients and help them feel calm and relaxed and improve their sleep quality.
What is PCOS?
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It refers to a condition which affects the hormonal levels of a woman. PCOS is characterized by the production of higher-than-normal male hormones. Physical signs are severe acne, dandruff, weight gain, hirsutism, and male-pattern baldness. Internal symptoms include missed periods and abnormal heavy flow, multiple cysts, pelvic pain and thickening of the uterus wall.
The occasional skipping of menstrual periods reduces the chance of becoming pregnant, therefore women suffering from PCOS tend to struggle with fertility. The ovaries may also develop several fluid collections preventing the regular release of eggs. PCOS causes an increase in insulin; the hormone that regulates how the foods you consume is transformed into energy. It may also prevent your body from regulating the amount of this hormone making insulin blood levels to be higher than normal. Risk factors are unhealthy eating habits, obesity, lack of enough exercise and genetics.
Symptoms of PCOS cause substantial discomfort and pain. One treatment option that is gaining momentum today is cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive chemical found in medical cannabis. It works fast to reduce symptoms of PCOS. Note that there are many different varieties of CBD products that vary in potency and dosage. The exact dose that suits you depends on your symptoms; PCOS produces a broad range of signs and side effects. You must factor in the same while choosing the variety that best suits your condition.
For a medical condition always consult with a healthcare professional before consuming CBD.
Why Can CBD Work For Treating PCOS?
Anti-inflammatory/Pain Relief Properties
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an anti-inflammatory and has pain relief properties. There is evidence glycinergic CBDs are strong therapeutical agents that can be used to treat neuropathic and inflammatory pain. They are, therefore, capable of attenuating compulsive pain without causing significant analgesic tolerance and psychoactive side effects. Cannabidiols also possess anti-anxiety properties and hence are usually administered for patients with anxiety disorders. These properties make CBD ideal for the treat PCOS symptoms, primarily sleep and anxiety issues.
Maintains a Healthy ECS
ECS (Endocannabinoid system) is a signaling mechanism that maintains homeostasis in your body. It is composed of Endocannabinoids and two cannabinoid receptors whose role is to balance all the processes including reproduction. Research has shown that ECS malfunction causes PCOS in some women. Cannabinoid shares identical chemical makeup with endocannabinoids, therefore it helps keep your system running smoothly. So, supplementing with CBD has a direct effect on PCOS patients; it aids the treatment process.
What Are The Benefits of Using CBD to Treat PCOS?
A 2005 study by Hollinrake 1 revealed that women with PCOS are more likely to develop stress and depression. Patients using CBD will not only feel calmer but also reap heavily from its anti-stress effect. It helps patients cope with the otherwise painful and disturbing symptoms. The fact that CBD has everything it takes to help your system run smoothly means it can restore hormonal balance.
The end result is a decrease in menstrual irregularity and a corresponding increase in the likelihood of conceiving. Cannabidiols also reduce body fats and hence are effective in controlling weight, one of the risk factors for developing PCOS. The characteristic reduction in pain, when using CBD, relieves patients of the agony.
How PCOS Affects The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
ECS is composed of a series of receptors present in all major bodily systems. Its function is to keep virtually every physiological process, such as digestion, pain modulation and the reproductive system in a state of balance. Under normal circumstance, devoid of PCOS, naturally released cannabinoids constantly act on the receptors thus eliciting chemical responses which, in turn, maintain the various bodily processes in homeostasis. PCOS, characterized by the growth of small cysts on the ovaries, is an organized metabolic and endocrine disorder. It causes excessive production of androgen, insulin, hyperlipidemia, anovulatory, acne, hirsute, adrenal hyperplasia and weight gain. The disorder, therefore, destabilizes ECS making your body to develop several disturbing symptoms.
How Can I Use CBD to Treat PCOS?
Before you start using CBD for any health reason, it is important that you consult your doctor first. This is because the doctor will be able to evaluate your body and the extent of the disease or condition. This way, the doctor is also able to advise you the best way to use CBD to treat PCOS.
CBD is currently being offered in different forms such as oil, paste, tablets, and vapes. CBD oil or paste has been shown as being a preferred option for many people. However, it is best to choose the form that you feel most comfortable using.
CBD Dosage for PCOS
If used properly, CBD can be a great option for many people. However, it’s important to remember that every person is unique and everyone’s reaction to CBD is different. The recommended dosage from each product can differ greatly, creating some confusion. Dosage may be different depending on the percentage of CBD oil you are using.
We recommend the Step-Up method as described by Leinow and Birnbaum in their book CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis 2 . For detailed information about dosage, see our post on CBD dosage.
What Are Studies Saying About Using CBD for PCOS?
A study by Alison J. Dawson 3 has shown that endocannabinoid receptor blockage brought about by CBD lowers alanine amino transfer in women with PCOS that has no relationship with weight loss. This finding shows that CBD can eliminate disturbing PCOS symptoms and reinstate homeostasis in the body. The study was composed of two groups, each of 50 obese women suffering from PCOS. The group put on CBD recorded impressive results that confirm CBD is effective in the treatment of PCOS.
Another study 4 conducted by the International Journal of Endocrinology obtained a similar finding. The study involved one group of 173 women with Polycystic Ovary syndrome, aged 20-53, and a different one with 125, healthy (weight and age-matched) randomly selected from the population. The results mirrored those of the separate study, further confirming that CBD is effective for treating PCOS. While these results are a step in the right direction be sure you consult your medical practitioner for expert advice on the PCOS treatment regime.
Can CBD Help with PCOS? Benefits, Dosage, & Side-Effects
Can CBD help with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)? What does the current research suggest?
We’ll explore this connection in more detail.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) affects roughly 10% of women in the United States. It’s one of the main causes of infertility in women in the Western world .
This chronic health condition is poorly understood by modern medicine — making it especially difficult to diagnose and treat. Pharmaceuticals used to manage this condition bring their own risk of side-effects.
This has prompted a lot of people to reach for a bottle of CBD oil instead.
Can CBD really be used to benefit PCOS?
Here’s what the research says.
MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
Updated on June 05, 2021
Table of Contents
- Here are some important questions to keep in mind while tracking progress in a journal:
- Simplified Breakdown of Common PCOS Symptoms and Potential Causes:
- Common Tests Used to Help Diagnose PCOS:
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What Are The Benefits of CBD Oil For PCOS?
CBD primarily works by helping the body maintain homeostasis (balance).
This includes the balance of hormones, neurotransmitters, metabolism, and neurological activity — all of which are affected by PCOS.
When using CBD for PCOS, don’t expect anything to happen overnight. The changes are slow and gradual. The biggest changes happen over time the more often you use it.
It’s always wise to speak with a doctor about using CBD oil for any health condition before you start — especially if you’re using any other prescription medications.
The benefits of CBD oil for PCOS include:
- Regulates insulin & blood sugar levels
- Promotes weight loss
- Relieves anxiety & depression
1. Regulates Insulin & Blood Sugar Levels
Hyperinsulinemia is characterized by excessive insulin levels in the bloodstream — which has a lot of overlap with diabetes.
A recent study involving more than 4600 participants diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes had their self-reported use of marijuana and fasting insulin levels compared (a marker for hyperinsulinemia). Researchers found that participants using marijuana on a regular basis had a 16% lower insulin resistance score than non-users .
Researchers in this study suggested CBD as one of the key compounds responsible for producing this effect through the modulation of CB1 receptors. Other studies have shown that by blocking CB1 receptors in animal models, insulin sensitivity was improved . This suggests the endocannabinoid system and CB1 receptors play a critical role in the function of insulin.
The idea is that if we’re more sensitive to the effects of insulin, we’ll have greater blood sugar regulation and improved negative feedback control of insulin balance. This is important because of the correlation of insulin imbalance with PCOS.
2. Supports Weight Loss
Roughly 80 percent of PCOS sufferers are considered overweight . There are a few reasons for this:
- Fatigue leading to less exercise
- Hyperinsulinemia and diabetes leading to excess fat production
- Genetic predispositions to increased weight
This suggests excess weight gain as a potential contributing factor to the underlying cause of PCOS. One of the key goals of treatment in overweight PCOS patients is to cut excess weight.
CBD may be useful for supporting weight loss in a few ways:
- Regulation of mitochondrial function to improve the burning of excess sugar and fat as energy .
- Reducing insulin resistance to improve blood sugar regulation and support beta-oxidation of fat 
- Reducing appetite to help lower calorie intake 
3. Relieves Anxiety & Depression
One of the main side-effects of PCOS is anxiety. This can result from stress caused by the discomfort of the condition itself, or issues involving the adrenal glands where stress hormones like cortisol are produced.
Anxiety is one of the most common reasons people are taking CBD supplements — and there’s a lot of research to back this up.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study comparing the anti-anxiety effects of CBD to benzodiazepine anxiety medications concluded that “CBD [has] anxiolytic properties in human volunteers submitted to a stressful situation” .
Other studies investigating the immediate effects of CBD in the treatment of anxiety used a public speaking model to induce an anxious state in study participants. The study noted a dramatic improvement in anxiety scores compared to placebo control .
There are a few ways CBD provides relief from anxiety symptoms, with the most important being a potentiation of GABA in the brain [9,10], which is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter.
When the brain becomes hyperactive it’s GABA that slows it back down again — preferably before reaching levels high enough to cause an anxiety attack.
What’s The Dose of CBD Oil For PCOS?
The correct dose of CBD will vary from one person to the next. Some people find they need a large dose to achieve the desired effects, while others may need a much smaller dose for the same results.
Although factors such as weight, age, and muscle to fat ratio are important, other factors like genetics, liver enzyme activity, underlying health conditions, digestive function, and medication use can all affect CBD supplementation.
The best way to find the right dose of CBD for your body is to start low and increase slowly over time until you achieve a dose that works for you.
Most people will start at a very low dose around 2.5 mg of CBD and increase by 2.5 mg every day until they receive the level of benefit they’re looking for. As you become familiar with how CBD works for your body, you’ll be able to adjust this dose as needed.
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Tracking Your Progress
PCOS is a chronic health condition — meaning that it doesn’t appear overnight, and won’t go away overnight either. It can take months or years to improve symptoms of PCOS, so you need to be patient.
It’s difficult to see improvement in the short term for conditions like PCOS that move slowly — so it helps to keep notes of your symptoms. This way you can compare your notes over longer periods of time to spot any changes — for good or for worse.
Think of it like this — when you’re growing up, you don’t notice that you’re a little bit taller every day, yet when you compare height measurements from a year ago you may notice a big difference. It’s the same with chronic health conditions.
If you were to be asked how you feel every day, you may have the same answer — “same as yesterday”. Yet if you were to compare how you feel now, to 3 months ago, there may be a significant change — you just didn’t notice.
The best way to track your progress is to keep a journal of your symptoms. You can choose to do this every day, every few days, or even once per week.
Here are some important questions to keep in mind while tracking progress in a journal:
- What are your current symptoms?
- How would you rate each symptom on a scale of 1–10? (10 being the most severe)
- Did you have your period this month? If so, when did it start and stop?
- What foods did you eat today?
- What was your dose of CBD? Was there any noticeable improvement?
- What was your temperature upon rising in the morning? (Helpful if thyroid issues are thought to be an issue, or if you’re no longer menstruating)
What is PCOS?
PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. It’s a collection of symptoms (syndrome), that mimics a related syndrome called poly cystic ovarian disease (PCOD). With PCOD, visible cysts form on the ovaries — interrupting their ability to function properly.
With PCOS, these cysts aren’t visible — hence the term syndrome (set of symtpoms, but not a specific disease).
PCOS is an endocrine disorder — which means it causes a problem with hormone levels.
The most common hormones affected by PCOS is insulin, testosterone, and female reproductive hormones like estrogen, luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Related Endocrine-Related Health Conditions CBD Has Benefit Towards:
PCOS is Not a Disease, It’s a Syndrome — What Does This Mean?
A syndrome is a collection of symptoms that occur simultaneously — often without a known cause and aren’t connected to each other. There are many different types of syndromes. An example of a syndrome you may have heard of is premenstrual syndrome — which is not a disease, but a set of symptoms.
Conversely, a disease is a specific abnormal condition that negatively affects the function of an organ or body system.
As a syndrome, there are no defining lines that group PCOS sufferers together to understand its cause and treatment. The only thing grouping them together is an overlap in the symptoms — which can vary quite a bit from one PCOS sufferer to the next.
This condition should not be confused with PCOD (polycystic ovarian disease) which has a clear cause. We’ll cover the differences between the two in more detail below.
What’s The Difference Between PCOS & PCOD?
PCOS and PCOD have similar symptoms but are very different from each other when you take a closer look.
PCOD (polycystic ovarian disease) is characterized by enlarged ovaries, usually caused by problems ejecting immature eggs from the ovaries during the menstrual cycle. This can cause the ovaries to enlarge and may begin producing excess testosterone, estrogen, or both. Many cases of PCOD have no noticeable symptoms and are only discovered by routine examination. This condition can usually be controlled by diet and lifestyle changes.
PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) affects the entire body, and has a strong metabolic component and is much more severe than PCOD. With this condition, a dozen or more new cysts form in the ovaries each month. The cause of these cysts remains unknown. As cysts form, the ovaries produce more testosterone and other androgens (male hormones), which can cause dramatic changes to the body over time.
Although both conditions involve the formation of cysts in the ovaries, and changes in hormone levels — the changes involved with PCOS are much more severe. Both conditions can have a negative impact on fertility.
What Are The Symptoms of PCOS?
Only women can experience PCOS as it’s a disorder characterized by cyst formation on the ovaries (female reproductive organ). This condition can bring many symptoms, some of which seem unrelated.
Additionally, PCOS symptoms can vary a lot from one woman to the next. This makes it incredibly difficult for researchers to study the condition. PCOS in one woman could be completely different than PCOS in another woman — and likely involves a completely separate underlying cause.
Symptoms of PCOS May Include:
What Causes PCOS?
There’s a lot of debate about the true cause of PCOS — and the truth is that there are likely to be many different causes.
What we do know is that this condition is predominantly an endocrine disorder. Some symptoms relying on a dysfunction of the female reproductive hormones (HPO-axis), others focus more on the metabolic system (thyroid and pancreatic hormones).
All of these hormone systems rely on complex feedback loops to remain in balance. Even mild shifts in this balance can result in significant side-effects.
How does the body keep hormones in balance?
The answer is in something called a negative feedback loop — the brain tells other organs to release hormones, and only stops when it detects adequate levels of these hormones in the bloodstream (feedback).
This works in a similar way to the heating system in your house. When temperatures drop too low, the thermostat kicks the furnace on. Once it detects temperatures are within the set range, it tells the furnace to turn off again to avoid overheating the house.
If anything goes wrong during this negative feedback loop with the brain and endocrine organs (there are a lot of things that can go wrong), hormone levels can fall out of balance. This is what causes the symptoms of PCOS.
The symptoms involved with PCOS will largely rely on the endocrine organs affected.
Simplified Breakdown of Common PCOS Symptoms and Potential Causes:
|Symptom||Adrenal Glands||Pancreas||Ovaries||Thyroid Gland|
|Male-pattern hair growth||✔||✔|
|Thinning of the hair on the head||✔||✔||✔|
PCOS & Male Hormones (Androgens)
One of the key drivers of PCOS symptoms is an excess of male hormones known as androgens.
Both men and women produce androgens like testosterone naturally. The difference is that women convert testosterone into estrogen. The most important factor is the ratio of estrogen to testosterone. In women, the ratio is heavily weighted in favor of estrogen, while men have much higher concentrations of testosterone.
With PCOS, there could be one of two problems:
- Excessive production of testosterone
- Lack of conversion into estrogen
Both result in the same thing — high testosterone levels in comparison to estrogen.
Excess androgen levels can inhibit menstruation (leading to a lack of menstruation and infertility), resulting in excess hair growth on the upper lip and back, trigger the formation of acne, and lead to changes in mood .
The only reliable way to find out what may be causing your symptoms is to visit a doctor.
How is PCOS Diagnosed?
If you think you may have PCOS and have not been diagnosed by a doctor, it’s important that you schedule an appointment right away.
PCOS is difficult to diagnose and is usually done through a process of elimination using advanced medical diagnostic equipment. It’s nearly impossible for someone to accurately diagnose PCOS at home.
Doctors will start with a blood test, and perform other diagnostic testing before coming to a diagnosis.
Common Tests Used to Help Diagnose PCOS:
- Fasting insulin — PCOS patients often experience hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in the blood)
- Luteinizing hormone (LH): Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) ratio — These hormones are key regulators of the female menstrual cycle. PCOS patients may have a ratio greater than 1:1 (usually around 2:1).
- SHBG levels — Sex hormone-binding globulin is often low with PCOS
- Ultrasound — This is to look for cysts on the ovaries. Cysts on the ovaries are not a confirmed diagnosis of PCOS. There are other causes for this as well.
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormones — This is done to rule out other causes for the symptoms like hypo or hyperthyroidism.
- CRP — C-reactive protein is a good indicator of inflammation in the body, which can be used to identify other causes for the symptoms
- Full blood count — By taking a look at the concentration and size of red and white blood cells, doctors may identify other causes for the condition.
- Liver function test — In some cases, similar symptoms can be explained by problems with the liver, such as fatty liver disease.
Once the doctor has explored other options and taken family history and the patients symptoms into consideration, they’ll consider a set of criteria used to diagnose PCOS known as the Rotterdam Criteria (2003).
PCOS Diagnostic Criteria (Rotterdam Criteria)
In order to diagnose PCOS, two of the following must be identified:
- Oligoovulation and/or anovulation — ovulating less than normal or not at all
- Excess androgen activity — high concentration of male hormones in the blood
- Polycystic ovaries — multiple cysts found on the ovaries
Other endocrine disorders must be ruled out before a doctor will make a PCOS diagnosis.
Key Takeaways: Can CBD Help With PCOS?
PCOS is an endocrine disorder involving fluctuations in testosterone, estrogen, FSH, LH, and more. It can significantly affect the quality of life of those affected and remains one of the leading causes of infertility in women.
This condition has a lot of overlap with diabetes, characterized by heightened insulin levels in the blood and higher than normal male hormone production.
There are no direct studies on the effects of CBD for PCOS — but there are some speculative effects we can make from other areas of research.
The most relevant effects of CBD for PCOS involve its regulating effect on insulin levels, as well as its potential to promote weight loss and support other side-effects of the condition like anxiety.
If you’re interested in trying CBD to help manage symptoms, we highly recommend visiting your doctor first. This is important to make sure the use of CBD (or any supplement) won’t interact with any of your other medications and to assess any other factors that may interfere — such as other underlying health conditions.
More research is needed to assess the specific effects of CBD for PCOS. Stay up to date with any updates in this field of study by signing up for our newsletter below.
Cannabidiol/CBD Oil for PCOS?
I am often asked if we can use cannabidiol for PCOS. While it is not something that I use or have much experience with, many women with PCOS report positive results, so I did a little research. As always, I encourage you to explore new ideas and educate yourself about possible treatments, then evaluate and discuss options with your medical provider.
What is Cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol is a chemical compound in the Cannabis sativa plant which is more commonly known as marijuana. The plant itself has over 80 chemicals known as cannabinoids, and cannabidiol is just one of them. No, it won’t make you feel high. A compound called Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the major active ingredient and the one responsible for the psychoactive property of marijuana. Cannabidiol, on the other hand, is a separate compound altogether and has none of the psychoactive properties THC possesses.
How do you get Cannabidiol?
Cannabidiol makes up about 40% of cannabis extracts and is currently the subject of curiosity for many types of therapeutic applications. Cannabidiol is produced in two ways:
- Natural . Cannabidiol is abundant in the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol can be found in both marijuana and hemp varieties of cannabis, the difference being the level of THC with the former being grown specifically for its THC. Hemp only has trace amounts of THC which makes hemp legal in the United States while marijuana is federally illegal.
- Synthetic. Synthetic cannabidiol has been produced successfully, but it is a strictly regulated substance and possession of it is illegal outside of a few specialized circumstances.
Known effects of cannabidiol
Pain relief and inflammation
Taking cannabidiol for pain and inflammation is one of the biggest reasons why people are taking it both orally and topically. 
“ Transdermal cannabidiol (CBD) gel application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritic pain-related behaviours and exerts an anti-inflammation property without evident high brain centre psychoactive effects. “
Cannabidiol is known to significantly suppress chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rat subjects without promoting analgesic (pain reliever) tolerance. Because of this, many scientists believe cannabidiol has potential for the treatment of chronic pain. 
“ Collectively, we have provided evidence to suggest that glycinergic cannabinoids are ideal therapeutic agents in the treatment of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. They can effectively attenuate pathological pain without significantly causing major psychoactive side effect and analgesic tolerance.”
Helps with anxiety
Cannabidiol has been shown to possess anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties in patients diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and scientists even consider its potential for panic disorder, OCD, and PTSD. 
“ Studies using animal models of anxiety and involving healthy volunteers clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD. Moreover, CBD was shown to reduce anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder. “
For more about CBD and anxiety, read Dr. David Brady’s article on the subject.
Potential use for PCOS
Many are considering cannabidiol to help them cope with the symptoms of PCOS, mainly with anxiety, pain, PMS, and sleep issues. Because of cannabidiol’s anxiolytic properties without the “high,” PCOS patients could potentially see some benefits and help them feel calmer and sleep better. More than to just help women feel less stressed and pained, cannabidiol might actually directly improve PCOS treatment by means of the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a signaling network that is generally responsible in maintaining balance or homeostasis in the body. The ECS is named as such due to it being composed of endocannabinoids, ligands created by the body on demand, and two cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2). These receptors are always striving to make sure everything in our body, including the processes involved in reproduction , are balanced.
So what happens when things go haywire? Current literature suggests ECS dysfunction, whether too little or too much, could be one of the few reasons why women develop PCOS, with some of the symptoms of PCOS such as insulin resistance and obesity possibly influenced by the ECS. [5, 6]
“ In conclusion, our results clearly demonstrate that activation of endocannabinoids and overexpression of cannabinoid receptors, especially CB1, may be associated with insulin resistance in women with PCOS. “
How does something like cannabidiol help with maintaining a healthy ECS? Well, cannabidiol happens to share identical chemical makeup to endocannabinoids which allows them to interact with cannabinoid receptors to help keep the system running smoothly. This means supplementing with cannabidiol might actually have a direct effect on PCOS patients when it comes to treatment.
While these studies are promising, I encourage you to conduct further research on your own and consult your medical provider before using this or any supplement, compound, or treatment.
For more about CBD for PCOS, listen to (or read the transcript) of my podcast with Mary Clifton, “CBD for PCOS- Is It Right for You? [Podcast]“
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.