5 Foods to Lower Testosterone If You Have PCOS

There is some evidence that certain foods can lower testosterone levels in people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOs). Testosterone levels are typically high in people with PCOs, causing problems from increased body weight and acne to abnormal facial and body hair.

It is thought that certain foods have anti-androgenic effects, meaning the ability to reduce male hormones, including testosterone. This may help better manage a disorder that affects as many as five million females in the United States.

This article looks at five different foods that may help naturally lower testosterone if you have been diagnosed and have symptoms of PCOS.

Baked salmon with a lemon slice on top
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Gender Definitions

For the purpose of this article, "female" refers to people born with vaginas and "male" refers to people born with penises irrespective of the gender or genders they identify with.


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Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils like canola, soybean, and corn oil are rich in polyunsaturated fat. Research has shown that these healthy dietary fats have the ability to lower testosterone.

With that said, most of the available research is limited to males, and there is a lack of studies devoted to the hormonal effects of polyunsaturated fat in females with PCOS.

For example, a 2017 study in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that a higher intake of polyunsaturated fats decreased total testosterone and free (circulating) testosterone levels in healthy males. It may be presumed to have the same effect in females, but more research is needed.

Of the available studies, a 2021 review published in Life Sciences suggested that the consumption of polyunsaturated fats may not only help decrease testosterone in people with PCOS but improve menstrual cycles and insulin sensitivity. This can lead to improved fertility and better control of type 2 diabetes, both of which are common in people with PCOS.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds may also be beneficial to PCOS given that they are among the richest food-based sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Walnuts are especially high in these fats. Sunflower and flax seeds are also rich sources, especially a type known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Of the available research, a 2011 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that 31 people with PCOS who ate 31 grams of walnuts or almonds per day for six weeks experienced a 30% drop in free testosterone. ALA is thought to be responsible for this effect.

Walnuts were also reported to decrease "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and increase insulin response in people with PCOS.

Similarly, a 2020 study in the Nutrition Journal reported that 100 grams of flaxseed powder per day significantly lowered cholesterol and insulin levels in people with PCOS. Both are thought to be influenced by decreased testosterone levels induced by ALA.

Fatty Fish

Fatty cold-water fish like salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat thought to be "heart-healthy." Fish and oysters are by far the richest sources of omega-3.

A 2013 study published in the Iran Journal of Reproductive Medicine suggested that omega-3 can also lower testosterone in people with PCOS. For this study, 78 females with PCOS received a daily 3-gram dose of either an omega-3 supplement or a placebo (sham) supplement for 8 weeks.

Not only were testosterone levels lower in the omega-3 group, but those who took omega-3 were more than twice as likely to report regular menstrual periods (47.2% vs. 22.9%).

Dietary guidelines from the National Institutes of Health recommend eating two servings (3.5 ounces each) of cold-water fish per week.

Tea and Tea Extracts

Some studies have suggested that certain teas or tea extracts may help improve PCOS symptoms. This is especially true of green tea, spearmint tea, and marjoram tea.

A 2021 review of studies in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology reported that green tea extract lowered free and total testosterone levels in people with PCOS. A compound called flutamide is thought responsible for this effect.

Spearmint is known to have anti-androgenic effects. It appears to do so by lowering a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) that the body uses to "build" testosterone and other male hormones.

An animal study published in 2020 reported that rats given a spearmint extract not only lowered testosterone levels but increased estrogen and progesterone levels (both of which may help normalize menstrual cycles and improve the odds of fertility in people with PCOS).

Among the available human research, a 2016 study in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Diet reported that marjoram tea lowered DHEA levels in people with PCOS. Moreover, those who drank the tea twice daily for a month had better insulin sensitivity compared to those who drank tea without marjoram.

Red Reishi Mushrooms

Some mushrooms have anti-androgenic effects. Arguably the most potent is the red reishi mushroom, known as lingzhi in traditional Chinese medicine.

Red reishi mushrooms appear to reduce levels of 5-alpha-reductase in the bloodstream. This is the enzyme that converts testosterone into a more potent form known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). that acts upon the liver, brain, skin, hair, and male sex organs.

High DHT levels can raise the risk of PCOS-related symptoms such as acne, hirsutism (excessive hair growth), and androgenic alopecia (male-pattern baldness).

Red reishi mushrooms, usually sold dried or in powdered form, can be found online and in supplement stores and some Asian food markets.


High testosterone is common in people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and certain food have anti-androgenic properties that may help lower these levels. Doing so may improve symptoms of PCOS, including weight gain, acne, high blood sugar, excess facial hair, and irregular periods.

Although the evidence is far from conclusive, healthy polyunsaturated oils, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, certain tea or tea extracts, and a mushroom called red reishi may help lower testosterone in people with PCOS.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN
 Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN, is the founder of the PCOS Nutrition Center.