PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome affects one in twelve women worldwide. Many have no idea they have it. Some Baton Rouge area researchers aren't sold that medication is the best treatment.

A few years ago you never would have found Grace Pickering in a gym.

"Throughout the study I lost inches and about 20 to 25 pounds."

Now 28, Grace was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, at age twelve. The first symptom is an irregular menstrual cycle.

"You can see how much bigger the ovaries are."

The ovaries become enlarged and small cysts form on the outer edges. The result is that many women don't ovulate and can't become pregnant. Dr. Leanne Redman is leading a study called pulse at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. She thinks diet and exercise could be the key to treating PCOS.

"We're very excited about this study because really what it's doing is trying to understand, not only how diet and exercise help the infertility, but how diet and exercise are affecting the signals that are coming from the brain, these certain hormones that are interacting with the ovaries."

The 6-month study randomizes participants into three groups. One focuses on dietary restrictions, one on exercise training and the other on the diabetes drug metformin, which is currently used to treat PCOS. Grace ended up in the exercise group and spent six months using Pennington's gym free of cost. She also got to work with trainers to develop a personal fitness plan that's really paid off.

"Since the study I've been trying to be consistent with working out, and I've lost about 20 more pounds."

Her menstrual cycle is also more regulated, meaning she's more likely to get pregnant when she's ready.

"PCOS has become more common, and so we do know it's reflected by our lifestyles, so that's why a lifestyle program should be the first choice for treatment for many women that are seeking fertility, because the outcome is a healthier mom gets pregnant, and hopefully we get a healthier baby."

It's yet another reason why regular exercise is critical to good health.