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Fatigue due to PCOS? Know how the hormonal disorder causes brain fog

Persistent fatigue is a common complaint among women with PCOS. There are several factors within the PCOS constellation including Anaemia, insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, among others which can contribute to this overwhelming tiredness

Health Desk Written By: Health Desk New Delhi Updated on: November 17, 2023 13:48 IST
hormonal disorder
Image Source : FREEPIK Did you know hormonal disorder can also cause braing fog

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a multifaceted hormonal disorder that affects millions of women worldwide. While it is widely recognised for its impact on reproductive health, PCOS can have far-reaching consequences, including persistent fatigue and cognitive difficulties often described as "brain fog." So, we will delve into the intricate ways in which PCOS can contribute to fatigue and brain fog.

Understanding PCOS:

According to Dr Padma Srivastava, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Lullanagar, Pune, PCOS is characterised by hormonal imbalances, irregular menstrual cycles, and the presence of small cysts on the ovaries. According to Dr Padma Srivastava, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Lullanagar, Pune, one of the key factors associated with PCOS is insulin resistance. This condition occurs when the body's cells do not respond effectively to insulin, resulting in higher levels of insulin in the bloodstream. Elevated insulin levels, in turn, can lead to increased production of androgens (male hormones) by the ovaries, which contributes to the hallmark symptoms of PCOS.

The Fatigue Factor:

Persistent fatigue is a common complaint among women with PCOS. Several factors within the PCOS constellation can contribute to this overwhelming tiredness:

1. Insulin Resistance: Elevated insulin levels not only affect blood sugar regulation but also play a role in energy metabolism. Insulin resistance can make it challenging for cells to access and utilize glucose for energy, leading to feelings of fatigue.

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2. Hormonal Imbalances: PCOS often results in fluctuations in hormones, including high levels of androgens and imbalances in estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal irregularities can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to sleep disturbances and fatigue.
3. Weight Management: Many women with PCOS struggle with weight management. Obesity or excess weight can exacerbate insulin resistance and contribute to fatigue.
4. Anaemia: Menstrual irregularities associated with PCOS can lead to heavy or prolonged periods, increasing the risk of iron-deficiency anaemia. Anaemia can cause fatigue, weakness, and a lack of energy.

The Brain Fog Enigma:

Brain fog is a term used to describe cognitive difficulties such as memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, and mental fatigue. This phenomenon can significantly impact daily life and productivity. Here's how PCOS may contribute to brain fog:
1. Insulin Resistance and Inflammation: Elevated insulin levels and chronic inflammation associated with PCOS can affect brain function. Research suggests that insulin resistance can impair cognitive abilities, leading to difficulties with memory and focus.
2. Sleep Disruptions: Sleep disturbances, which are common among women with PCOS due to hormonal imbalances and sleep apnea, can contribute to brain fog. Quality sleep is crucial for cognitive function, and disruptions can lead to daytime mental fatigue.
3. Hormonal Fluctuations: Hormonal imbalances in PCOS can affect neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which play a role in mood and cognitive function. Fluctuations in these neurotransmitters can contribute to brain fog.
4. Chronic Stress: Coping with the challenges of PCOS, such as fertility concerns and body image issues, can lead to chronic stress. Prolonged stress can impair cognitive function and contribute to brain fog.

Managing Fatigue and Brain Fog in PCOS:

While fatigue and brain fog can be challenging, there are strategies that can help manage these symptoms:

1. Lifestyle Modifications: Embrace a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management techniques such as yoga or meditation. These practices can improve insulin sensitivity, support better sleep, and reduce stress.
2. Sleep Hygiene: Prioritize good sleep habits, including maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and practising relaxation techniques before bedtime.
3. Nutrient-Rich Diet: Focus on a diet rich in whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Ensure you get enough iron and other essential nutrients to combat anaemia.
4. Medications and Supplements: In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend medications or supplements to address specific symptoms or underlying conditions contributing to fatigue and brain fog.
5. Support Network: Seek support from healthcare professionals, support groups, or mental health specialists who can offer guidance and understanding as you navigate the challenges of PCOS.


PCOS is a complex condition that affects various aspects of a woman's life, including her energy levels and cognitive function. By addressing insulin resistance, hormonal imbalances, and sleep disruptions through lifestyle modifications and appropriate medical interventions, women with PCOS can significantly improve their fatigue and brain fog symptoms. Remember that PCOS management is a journey, and individualized care and support are essential in achieving a better quality of life and overall well-being.


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