Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones, which may result in symptoms including irregular or absent periods, acne, facial hair growth, and an increased risk of developing diabetes. With PCOS affecting 7-10% of women of childbearing age, it's no wonder that finding ways to manage these hormonal challenges is something many people seek.  

Among the remedies typically recommended to people with PCOS, sipping on spearmint tea seems to be one of the more popular ones. But can the simple act of including a minty tea in your daily routine have a positive impact on your hormones, or is this yet another social media trend that is more bark than bite?  

woman making herbal tea

Androgens and PCOS: What you need to know 

Understanding if and how spearmint tea, or any holistic remedy, may impact PCOS symptoms takes some knowledge of what androgens are and how they play a role in this condition.  

What are androgens?

Androgens are a group of hormones with a wide range of functions. While they are often referred to as "male sex hormones," they are essential in women, too. Testosterone is the most commonly known androgen, with others including androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S). 

Female bodies require androgens to support many factors of their health, including bone density and sexual and reproductive function. However, for women with PCOS, it is estimated that 60-80% produce elevated levels of androgens, leading to the hallmark physical symptoms they may face, including facial hair, scalp hair loss, weight gain, ovulation challenges, and more. Some data even show a link between higher testosterone levels and higher blood pressure among those with PCOS.  

Spearmint tea for PCOS: A natural way to lower androgens?

Because people with PCOS present with higher levels of androgens, finding ways to naturally lower these levels can, theoretically, alleviate some of the symptoms associated with this hormonal imbalance. 

“Some small studies have suggested that spearmint tea may improve symptoms and markers for people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS),” shares Melissa Azzaro, a registered dietitian who specializes in PCOS and hormone health.

woman sipping from a cup of spearmint tea

In one study, participants who drank spearmint tea twice a day for 1 month had lower free and total testosterone and subjective improvement in hirsutism (excess facial and body hair) compared with those who drank a control herbal tea. Researchers also reported that those who drank spearmint tea had increased LH and FSH levels, which are hormones that can impact ovulation and the appropriate maturation of a female’s eggs during the menstrual cycle. 

According to Azzarro, “Another study showed a decrease in free testosterone and an increase in LH and FSH when participants drank spearmint tea twice a day for five days during the follicular phase of their menstrual cycles”. The follicular phase is the stage of the menstrual cycle that commences on the first day of the menstrual period and concludes with ovulation. 

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Azzaro also noted that “spearmint tea is high in antioxidants, which may help lower inflammation that is common in PCOS”.

woman drinking tea outdoors

So, should you drink spearmint tea if you have PCOS?

Although more robust data is needed to confirm whether every single person with PCOS should make a habit of drinking spearmint tea every day, the available data, along with subjective reports, suggest that including this refreshing drink in your day may offer some benefits. While it won’t be a magic bullet to having ideal androgen levels (unfortunately, a magic bullet doesn’t exist), for those with higher testosterone, enjoying spearmint tea while also incorporating other PCOS-friendly habits, like including healthy fats, protein, and fiber in your diet, prioritizing quality and adequate sleep, managing stress, and including appropriate physical activity in your life, may help you manage some symptoms naturally. 

The bottom line? Spearmint tea may be a surprising and simple remedy for high testosterone. Just be sure to be mindful of what you are adding to your tea (too much sugar may not be doing you any favors), that your healthcare provider is on board with this addition, and that you drink enough tea to reap its benefits. If you are a spearmint tea fan and you have PCOS, generally speaking, pouring yourself a cup (or two!) and enjoying it every day may be one of the easiest things you can do to support your health.  

Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, is an award-winning fertility registered dietitian with over 20 years of experience. She is a three-time author, freelance writer, and consultant. Her book, Fueling Male Fertility, has helped countless men who are trying to conceive make evidence-based nutrition decisions that support their fertility. She also manages the Instagram account @LaurenLovesNutrition, where she shares evidence-based fertility and pregnancy-focused nutrition information. Lauren and her husband, Matt, conceived their daughter after a 5-year fertility journey, which included three rounds of IVF. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina, and is enjoying life in the Lowcountry with her little family.