Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Binge Eating Disorder in Female Adults

Woman struggling with an eating disorder and with Suicide Rates in Those who Suffer with Binge Eating Disorder

Perhaps one of the most common yet misunderstood eating disorder in our nation is Binge Eating Disorder. Countless of individuals struggle with this eating disorder on a daily basis yet may mistake this psychiatric illness for a lack of willpower or self-control when it comes to food and eating.

The truth is that many factors play a role in the development of binge eating, several which are not necessarily in a person’s control, such as genetics and neurobiology. Learning more about this eating disorder can not only help break through the stigmas and shame that surround binge eating but encourage those who are struggling to get help.

Progression of Eating Disorders

As more research is being completed on eating disorders and related diseases, factors that influence the progression of eating disorders are also better understood. One interesting disorder that has been more closely examined in females who struggle with binge eating disorder is the polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that occurs in women in which levels of sex hormones (progesterone and estrogen) are out of balance.

This can lead to many adverse effects in a woman with this condition, including the growth of ovarian cysts, or benign masses on the ovaries, the development of severe acne, irregular menstrual periods, male-pattern baldness, the growth of excess body and facial hair, infertility, and substantial weight gain.

PCOS is a common condition that many females might struggle with and learn to manage on their own, but professional help from a doctor may help better regular irregular hormones and subsequent symptoms of PCOS. It is important to understand if a woman who is struggling with binge eating disorder might have underlying PCOS, which can often go undiagnosed for some period of time.

Dieting Can Trigger Eating Disorders

Some women dealing with binge eating disorder may have developed an abnormal relationship with food and eating due to weight gain from unknown reasons. A woman who has experienced substantial weight gain without many variations in her diet or exercise regime may feel the need to alter her eating habits somehow in order to better control the weight fluctuations she is observing.

Portrait of a young attractive woman laughing

Any form of dieting can be triggering to a person who is already susceptible to developing an eating disorder, and the feeling of deprivation in particular can lead a person to binging.

If PCOS is present with binge eating disorder, it is important to consider how this condition may potentially influence the eating disorder and vice versa. Some women may find that with better management of the PCOS and related symptoms, this may lessen urges to binge eating or overall alleviate some irregular food eating habits.

While weight is certainly not the only factor that influences eating disorders, a woman who is no longer struggling with excessive and substantial weight gain related to PCOS may feel less of a need to control both her weight and feelings via food.

Symptoms of PCOS

The symptoms of PCOS, which include weight gain, hair growth, acne, and balding can have a dramatic effect on a woman’s self-esteem, which can be strongly connected with the development of an eating disorder, such as binge eating.

Smiling Mature Woman Outdoors

If you have been dealing with binge eating disorder and suspect that you might have PCOS, be sure to see your doctor immediately for a full evaluation. Having a clearer picture of the issues that might be present in your body can help you connect to treatment that is tailored to your unique needs and concerns.

Experiencing PCOS can be embarrassing and trigger the need to manipulate and control food in some way, which can potentially lead to a dangerous eating disorder, such as binge eating.

Seeking out professional treatment for PCOS is essential to appropriately managing the condition and symptoms. It may also help to meet with a therapist/counselor and/or registered dietitian who can provide support with eating habits and body image concerns.


Crystal Headshot 2Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 24, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com