PCOS And Hydration


What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition affecting the function of ovaries in people assigned as female at birth (AFAB); the three major elements of PCOS are polycystic ovaries, excess androgen, and irregular periods. Having at least 2 of these features may lead to being diagnosed with PCOS, which is extremely problematic during the reproductive years of people AFAB. Though the precise causes of PCOS are not known, early diagnosis and therapy, along with other measures, such as weight loss, can reduce the risk of long-term problems, e.g., heart disease and type 2 diabetes.1 


The symptoms of PCOS often begin during the first menstrual period; however, these symptoms can also start later in life. The diagnosis of PCOS is made when at least 2 of the following symptoms are present:

• Polycystic ovaries – ovaries become enlarged; it is characterised by numerous follicles (fluid-filled sacs) surrounding the eggs.1 

• Excess androgen – elevated levels of the male hormone can lead to excess body and facial hair. This also causes tiny sacs of fluid to grow along the outer edge of the ovary.

• Irregular periods – a reduction in the release of eggs, meaning a problem in ovary function. Periods may last many days or not present regularly.

It should be noted PCOS symptoms are usually more severe in people with obesity.

Water is crucial for homeostasis

Water is a vital element for homeostasis and an essential component to survival in preventing dehydration. Not only does it dissolve gases to enable exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen, but also affects heart rate and blood pressure by increasing the volume of blood.

The human body contains a great amount of water. Studies have shown around 55% of elderly bodies and 75% of infants bodies are made of water.4 Since our bodies constantly lose water to support our daily functions, maintaining water homeostasis is crucial.

Electrolyte balance

When the amount of water intake is not enough, electrolyte levels in the body can become either too high or low. It should be noted that the amount of water intake should be equivalent to the amount being used. This balance may be broken when the body is taking too much water (overhydration) or when the body is losing more water than we take in. 

Maintaining the balance of electrolytes can support muscle action, blood chemistry and other processes.5 For example, magnesium, a mineral that carries an electrical charge, plays an important role in energy production, blood pressure regulation and bone development.6 It is especially important in the secretion and/or formation of hormones which control homeostasis (skeletal).4

Excess thirst is a symptom of insulin resistance

Excessive thirst can be a sign of insulin resistance, especially when combined with other symptoms such as tiredness, urinating frequently and recurrent infections.7 Studies have shown around 30% to 40% of people AFAB with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) also have insulin resistance,3 which is that the cells do not respond to the hormone insulin.

Research has suggested that insulin resistance can be tackled by therapies that decrease the amount of insulin produced. However, medical professionals also advise following ketogenic and low-carbohydrate diets to reduce insulin resistance

Dehydration worsens symptoms of PCOS

One of the symptoms of PCOS is feeling bloated and fluid retention. This can be linked to dehydration as it causes the body to hold on to extra water. Water is held by the body to make up for lack of water intake, and it is therefore advised that adults drink around 2 litres of water a day.9

Furthermore, as people with PCOS have an increased risk for a number of health problems, such as diabeteshigh cholesterol and heart disease, it is essential to take enough fluids to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 


Polycystic ovary syndrome (also known as PCOS) is a condition that affects the function of a person’s ovulation. The symptoms of PCOS begin around the first menstrual period, which may include irregular periods, polycystic ovaries and excess androgen (body/ face hair growth). Other symptoms include feeling bloated and fluid retention, this has been linked to dehydration, and medical professionals advise women with PCOS to drink sufficient water.


  1. Polycystic ovary syndrome [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2017 [cited 2022 Nov 18]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/
  2. Fluid and electrolyte balance [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 18]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/fluidandelectrolytebalance.html
  3. The link between pcos and insulin resistance [Internet]. Verywell Health. [cited 2022 Nov 18]. Available from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/pcos-and-insulin-resistance-2616319
  4. Rude RK. Chapter 24 - magnesium homeostasis. In: Bilezikian JP, Raisz LG, Martin TJ, editors. Principles of Bone Biology (Third Edition) [Internet]. San Diego: Academic Press; 2008 [cited 2022 Nov 18]. p. 487–513. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123738844000434
  5. Fluid and electrolyte balance | effective health care (Ehc) program [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 20]. Available from: https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/health-topics/fluid-and-electrolyte-balance#:~:text=Maintaining%20the%20right%20balance%20of,and%20the%20fluids%20you%20drink.
  6. What is magnesium deficiency? [Internet]. Verywell Health. [cited 2022 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.verywellhealth.com/magnesium-deficiency-5200347
  7. Watts M. Insulin resistance occurs when insulin levels are sufficiently high over a prolonged period of time causing the body?s own sensitivity to the hormone to be reduced. [Internet]. Diabetes. 2022 [cited 2022 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin-resistance.html
  8. Pcos symptoms - los angeles, ca polycystic ovary syndrome signs and risk factors [Internet]. [cited 2022 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.center4fertility.com/blog/2018/03/17/the-symptoms-of-polycystic-ovarian-189913
  9. Dehydration and weight gain [Internet]. Hydrant. [cited 2022 Nov 20]. Available from: https://www.drinkhydrant.com/blogs/news/dehydration-and-weight-gain

Iqra Khalif

Pharmaceutical Science, University of Hertfordshire

Iqra Khalif is a pharmaceutical scientist with deep roots in research and development. She has a leadership qualification in global health and is interested in strategising for innovation in the life sciences.
She currently works in data analytics and management for a health-tech startup.

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