Considering Ashwagandha for PCOS: Is It Right for You?

Ashwagandha has many potential benefits including improved fertility, lower stress, improved thyroid function, sleep quality, and athletic performance (1). 

It is often recommended as a supplement for people who have PCOS due to its possible benefits, but is it truly a good option for you?

In this article, we will review the potential benefits, risks, contraindications, and all of your commonly asked questions. I have scoured all the research so that I can bring you the most accurate and up to date information about ashwagandha for PCOS. 

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What is ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb rooted in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, known for helping the body adapt to stress. Derived from the Withania somnifera plant, it grows wild in parts of Africa, the Mediterranean, and India (1). 

What is an adaptogen?

Adaptogens can come from plants, mushrooms, or they can be synthetic. They help the body adapt to stress, fatigue, and anxiety (2)

Adaptogens can help your body react to stressors in various ways depending on what your body needs. For instance, if you struggle with chronic stress and high cortisol levels, adaptogens and help to lower your cortisol levels (2). 

Benefits of Ashwagandha for PCOS


Firstly, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (3). If you struggle with inflammation due to your PCOS, this could be helpful. 

Adrenal Support

Next, ashwagandha may have positive benefits on the adrenal system. This includes benefits to the reproductive system, thyroid function, and stress/cortisol levels (4). These possible effects could be great for people struggling with adrenal PCOS. Stress and high cortisol levels can contribute to PCOS symptoms and excess androgen production. 

Sleep quality and athletic performance

Lastly, it is possible for ashwagandha to improve sleep quality, athletic performance, and have an effect on numerous neurological conditions (4). 

How to know if your cortisol levels are high

As mentioned previously, high levels of cortisol can be associated with PCOS. Cortisol can be measured through laboratory tests. It is best to test this with an endocrinologist or your primary physician so that they can help you interpret your own levels. 

If you feel like you have a high level of stress most days, it is more than likely that your cortisol is high. Signs and symptoms of this could be fatigue, headaches, trouble sleeping, and a puffy or inflamed face.

Are there any risks?

With adding any supplement to your routine, there is a risk. Remember that supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so you should be very strategic when selecting a quality supplement. Try to look for one that has third party lab testing.

It is also important to note that just because something is an herb or “natural” does not mean that it is harmless. Just like some mushrooms are delicious and edible, there are some that could cause serious harm. 

There is not enough evidence to show that long term use (past 3 months) of ashwagandha is safe. When taken in the correct dosage and for the correct amount of time, ashwagandha has been shown to be safe for most people (5).

There have been some cases of liver damage reported in people mainly with pre-existing liver conditions (4). 

Because of the risks, it is always important to consult with your personal medical providers to determine what is best for you. 

Who should not take ashwagandha?

  • People who are pregnant or breastfeeding (5)
  • People with pre-existing liver conditions (5)
  • People who are taking thyroid medications (5)
  • People who are being treated for diabetes (5)
  • People who have autoimmune conditions (5)

Recommended Dosage and Frequency

Due to insufficient evidence, there are not guidelines on the recommended dosage for ashwagandha. The typical amount taken in most research studies is 1,000mg per day. This is typically taken in two separate doses of 500mg each. 

Remember, it has only been determined safe for this amount to be taken for up to 3 months. This supplement is not necessarily something that should or needs to be taken in the long term. 

It is recommended to give yourself breaks in between taking it. This can be determined with your medical professional. 

For PCOS, it may be helpful to take this supplement* during times of high stress or poor sleep. 

Commonly Asked Questions

Will it raise my testosterone levels?

There have been many studies and articles that show that ashwagandha can raise testosterone levels in men (4). In women, testosterone levels have not been shown to rise, so there is no need to worry about this (6). 

Can ashwagandha cause hormonal imbalance?

To answer this question, we would first need to understand which hormones may become off balance. To do this you will want to work closely with a medical professional such as an endocrinologist or OB GYN. 

Research shows that it may help to improve certain hormone levels such as cortisol and DHEA (6). PCOS is associated with significantly higher levels of cortisol (7). 

Excess cortisol can contribute to androgen production and can impact insulin resistance (8). So in lowering cortisol, ashwagandha can help to improve your hormone levels. 

Are there any natural ways to reduce cortisol?

The best way to reduce cortisol is reducing daily stress or finding ways to navigate through stress more effectively. This can look different for everyone!

Working with a licensed professional to help you navigate stress is a great starting point. Prioritizing sleep and rest is also important in stress management. 

Other things that may help is keeping a regular sleep and eating schedule, managing blood sugar spikes, and engaging in enjoyable physical activity. 

Which supplement would I recommend?

Any supplement that you choose to start taking should come from a reputable company with third party testing. The supplements I am listing below all come from quality sources with third party testing.

Now Foods Ashwagandha*


Pure Encapsulations*

Final Thoughts

 If you are someone who struggles with adrenal type PCOS and you deal with high stress levels, then ashwagandha might be a helpful supplement to take. 

There are many other benefits of ashwagandha including improved sleep, fertility, and physical performance. It is also important to consider possible risks including liver damage when taken incorrectly. 

The exact dosage and frequency varies for each individual. It is best to discuss this with your physician to determine what is best for you. 

Don’t forget that supplements are not the only answer, incorporating other techniques and lifestyle changes to improve your stress can be just as effective. 

The research is still evolving on ashwagandha uses and safety, so keep an eye out for any updates here about its possible benefits and safety. Drop a comment below if you have any other supplements that you would like me to cover!

Check out my tiktok video on Ashwagandha for PCOS here!


Ashwaghanda can be so helpful with PCOS, especially if your struggling with high cortisol levels. You should never take it for longer than 3 months at a time without a break in the middle. And, no, it wont raise your testosterone levels if they are already high. Always discuss new supplemetns like this with your healthcare team to determine dosage and if its a good fit for you! Check out my blog post at for more information #pcos #pcosdietitian #pcosdiet #ashwagandha #cortisol

♬ original sound – Faith Krisht MS, RDN

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