Can CoQ10 Improve PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age. It is characterized by high levels of male hormones, known as androgens, as well as menstrual irregularities. Women with PCOS may also develop fluid filled cysts on their ovaries that can prevent the regular release of eggs. This is a major cause of fertility problems and difficulty getting pregnant. If left untreated, PCOS can also increase the risk of obesity, miscarriage, fatty liver, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
Standard treatment for PCOS usually involves lifestyle changes, particularly weight loss if needed, which helps regulate hormones. Medications can also be used for common symptoms of PCOS, such as metformin for insulin resistance and statins for elevated cholesterol. While these treatments do not address the underlying cause of the condition, they do attempt to help manage symptoms.
CoQ10 and PCOS
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that plays many roles in the body. There is some evidence that CoQ10 may help improve PCOS symptoms by addressing an underlying cause: inflammation.1
A 2016 study of 60 women with PCOS found similar results with supplementation of 100 mg of CoQ10 over 12 weeks. In this study, subjects who received CoQ10 had significantly lower fasting glucose (blood sugar), insulin levels, and insulin resistance. They also showed significant improvement in total and LDL cholesterol.2
A 2017 study evaluated the effects of CoQ10 on the expression of genes related to insulin, lipid metabolism, and inflammation in 40 women with PCOS. Subjects received either 100 mg of CoQ10 or a placebo (a pill identical to the CoQ10 that has no real effect) for 12 weeks. Of those who received CoQ10, there was significant regulation of the genes that control the production of LDL cholesterol (often called “bad cholesterol”), inflammation, and blood sugar, improving all of these markers. This study suggests that CoQ10 may help improve the symptoms of PCOS at the gene-level.3
A new 2018 study evaluated the impact of CoQ10 in combination with vitamin E for 86 women with PCOS. The subjects received either CoQ10 or vitamin E alone, in combination, or a placebo. Subjects who received CoQ10 alone or with the vitamin E, showed significant improvements in fasting blood sugar, insulin resistance, and lower total testosterone. This was not seen in the placebo group or the group that received only vitamin E. Researchers concluded that CoQ10 may have beneficial effects on many of the hormonal and blood sugar imbalances caused by PCOS.4
CoQ10 and Fertility for PCOS
A concern for many women with PCOS is how it impacts fertility. A 2014 study on the use of CoQ10 in combination with an ovulation stimulant called clomiphene citrate evaluated the efficacy of this dual treatment for women with PCOS. In this study, 101 infertile women were given either CoQ10 in combination with clomiphene citrate or clomiphene citrate alone.5
Several markers of fertility were measured, including serum progesterone, endometrial thickness, and pregnancy. The pregnancy rate was significantly higher in the CoQ10 group along with an improvement of many other markers of fertility, even in those women who did not get pregnant.5
At this time, the research on how CoQ10 can improve the symptoms of PCOS is promising, but preliminary. Large scale studies need to be conducted to further evaluate effectiveness and appropriate dosage of CoQ10 for women struggling with this diagnosis.
- Blog Contributor