Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and Diabetes are common health issues. The two are connected, and insulin issues might illustrate both health issues.
Nearly one in ten females of childbearing age suffer from PCOS. Also, nearly 9.4% of the population suffers from diabetes. Individuals suffering from PCOS are expected to develop type 2 diabetes. Read more to know about how these health problems are related. Also, this article explains the treatments for both diabetes and PCOS.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a major reason for female infertility. It has an impact on nearly 6% to 12% (millions) of the female population of reproductive age. However, the number is a lot more than that. This chronic medical problem lasts far beyond the child-bearing years.
Females suffering from PCOS are often insulin resistant. Their bodies may produce insulin, however, unable to utilize it effectively. This increases the risk of type 2 diabetes in them. Moreover, they have high levels of androgens (male hormones that female bodies have). Androgens prevent the release of eggs (ovulation) and result in acne, abnormal periods, too much hair growth on the body and face, and thin scalp hair.
Females suffering from PCOS may develop severe medical conditions, particularly if they are obese:
- Gestational diabetes (pregnancy diabetes): This puts the pregnancy and baby at risk. Also, may cause type 2 diabetes far ahead in the lives of both mother and child.
- Hypertension: It may lead to damage to the brain, heart, and kidneys.
- Heart disorders: Females suffering from PCOS are at a high risk of diabetes. The risk increases with age.
- Cholesterol: High bad or LDL cholesterol and low good or HDL cholesterol both augment the risk of cardiovascular problems.
- Stroke: Plaque (cholesterol and WBCs) blocking the blood vessels may cause the formation of blood clots. And, this leads to a stroke.
- Sleep apnea: A disorder that results in a stoppage of breathing during sleep. Also, it elevates the risk of cardiac problems and types 2 diabetes.
- Furthermore, PCOS links to neurological problems like depression and anxiety.
Above half of the females having PCOS develop type 2 diabetes by their 40s. High insulin level is both a sign of PCOS and an original biological driver.
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PCOS Insulin Resistance Symptoms
- Abnormal menstrual cycles.
- Weight gain or trouble in losing weight.
- Pelvic pain.
- Infertility or issues in conceiving.
- Acne on the chin, chest, back, or other facial regions. In addition, skin darkening might also happen, particularly in parts such as the armpits and groin.
- Hair loss or hair thinning. Females may find that their hair loss mimics male pattern baldness.
- Hair growth, or hirsutism: It is a condition of growth of dark, rough hair. Females might suffer from hair growth in places such as the chest, face, chin, etc.
- Anxiety or depression. Nearly 50% of females with PCOS report mood alterations.
If a female has PCOS, she might also be at a high risk of heart problems, impaired glucose tolerance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high insulin levels, and, again, prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
PCOS results in an abnormal menstrual cycle, fewer periods, or no periods at all. Few females suffering from PCOS might also lose weight.
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The Root Cause of PCOS and Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance is one of the causal biological imbalances of PCOS. This happens when a person’s pancreas requires pumping out more and more insulin in response to high glucose levels.
Insulin reduces the sugar level by storing the sugar in cells. The body cells become resistant to insulin and require more to be signaled to reduce the levels. When this resistance continues, the person experiences high blood glucose and high insulin levels.
As it might occur, insulin is a fat-storage hormone that concentrates fat in a person’s abdominal area. High levels of insulin may inform the ovaries to produce a high amount of testosterone. For this reason, a few females with PCOS experience signs of too many androgens, like dark hairs on the face and belly.
If a female has PCOS, she must ask her doctor for fasting insulin and fasting sugar level. Also, an HbA1C test is a must. It is an average of blood glucose levels for the previous 3 months. Insulin levels must be below 10 while fasting blood sugars must also be below 90 or so. Hence, normal blood sugar levels for PCOS management are a must.
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The exact reasons are not known at this time, however, androgen levels that are greater than normal play a key role. Family history and too much weight are in turn associated with insulin resistance. All these factors may add to this.
The association is complex and not well understood. Being obese relates to PCOS, however many females of normal weight experience PCOS. Also, a lot of obese females don’t.
Females whose mother or sister experiences type 2 diabetes or PCOS are more expected to develop PCOS.
Lifestyle might affect insulin resistance, particularly if a female is obese due to a poor diet and absence of exercise. Also, insulin resistance runs in families. Weight loss would also aid in improving the signs regardless of the cause of insulin resistance.
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Stress and Processed foods are Big Factors
Most commonly, insulin resistance occurs due to the intake of a diet rich in simple carbs and processed foods. If an individual eats cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner along with a wine glass, the insulin receptors present on the body cells become resistant to the insulin. Then, the pancreas needs to work actively to form more and more.
Another major factor for insulin resistance is stress. Stress might be working for long hours a week at a job a person does not likes, lack of sleep for resting and repairing the body, or being over-dedicated. Also, it can be internal stress such as long-term infections, having food items that react with a person’s immunity, or eating highly toxic foods.
These stressors inform a person’s brain to transfer a signal for cortisol (the stress hormone) to get liberated from the adrenal glands. An overproduction of cortisol recurrently may cause insulin resistance.
Some studies propose that insulin resistance might produce an adverse reaction that includes the endocrine system. Hence, might aid in giving rise to type 2 diabetes. In other words, PCOS leads to diabetes.
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Can PCOS Causes Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes takes place when the body cells become resistant to insulin, there is an abnormal production of insulin, or both. More millions of people experience some or the other type of diabetes, as per the CDC reports.
Type 2 diabetes is classically manageable or preventable with the help of a healthy diet and physical exercise. However, PCOS is a strong risk factor for developing diabetes. Females suffering from PCOS in young middle age are at a higher risk for diabetes and, possibly, lethal heart issues, later in life.
Treatment of PCOS and Diabetes
A balanced diet must include these:
- Diabetic fruits and veggies
- Whole-grain food items
- Lean proteins including fish, chicken breasts, low-fat dairy, turkey
- Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, olive oil
Individuals suffering from PCOS and Diabetes must restrict their consumption of foods like:
- Simple carbs like white pasta, sugar, white bread, white rice, and white flour
- Processed meats
- Junk foods and other processed foods
- Trans fats
- Low-fat items that swap sugar for fat
Prediabetics or diabetics and females with PCOS also take advantage of more physical activity. More and more exercises aid an individual in losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight. Moreover, it may aid a person’s body to utilize and process blood sugar.
As a person’s body begins processing more blood sugar, it might also form adequate insulin to meet his or her needs. As the body controls the levels of blood glucose naturally, a diabetic patient might be capable of consuming less medicine.
Type 2 diabetes treatments may involve medication usage. Medicines aid a person’s body’s insulin to work more efficiently and reduce the levels of blood sugars. Also, a healthcare provider might suggest the use of insulin injections. Treatment for PCOS characteristically includes the usage of birth control pills. These may aid in controlling the hormone levels and menstrual cycle, hence lowering the signs of PCOS.
Now, the question is, is metformin used for PCOS? Metformin is a commonly used treatment for type 2 diabetes. Also, the medication is helpful for treating the signs of PCOS as it lowers insulin resistance. These are the metformin uses for PCOS.
A well-balanced diet is thought to be useful in treating both diabetes and PCOS. To aid the treatment of both diabetes and PCOS, healthcare providers suggest a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Impact of PCOS and Diabetes on Pregnancy
A healthcare provider may recommend a pregnant female for any complications of PCOS. Few studies recommend that females suffering from PCOS and becoming pregnant must discuss with their physicians regarding more recurrent testing for gestational diabetes. These studies depicted a higher risk of gestational diabetes among females experiencing PCOS.
Yet, more recent studies which included over 1,100 people found no association between PCOS and pregnancy-related diabetes. The studies observed that risk factors for gestational diabetes were being obese and advanced maternal age.
However, female suffering from PCOS must speak to her doctor regarding the risks of developing diabetes during pregnancy. She would determine the best screening rate for each person. Females having PCOS are at a high risk of other pregnancy complications. These may include preeclampsia, pregnancy loss, high blood pressure, and preterm birth.
Can PCOS cause high blood sugar? Studies approve that PCOS and high blood sugar are correlated. Females having PCOS are more expected to develop type 2 diabetes in comparison to similar females who do not experience PCOS. Females may help treat both conditions by consuming proper medicines like metformin. And by including various lifestyle alterations like weight loss, having a healthy and balanced diet, and regularly exercising. Any female suffering from PCOS who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy must visit a doctor about PCOS complications, like gestational diabetes.
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At what age does PCOS stop?
Perimenopause usually begins in a female’s 40s or 50s. The average menopausal age of a female is 51. Females suffering from PCOS are likely to reach menopause nearly 2 years later than females without PCOS. PCOS doesn’t leave with menopause, hence a female may carry on having signs.
What is the best age to conceive with PCOS?
For females having PCOS who deal with getting pregnant naturally, physicians recommend that the most appropriate way is to try often. The maximum odds of natural pregnancy for PCOS females stay before 35 years of age. And, that too if ovulation occurs often and there are no preconditions the other partner experiences.
Does PCOS deteriorate with age?
PCOS has an impact on many body systems. A lot of females with PCOS find that their periods become more regular as they get nearer to menopause. Yet, their PCOS hormonal unevenness does not alter with age. Hence, they might carry on having signs of PCOS.
How does the menstrual cycle affect glucose levels?
During the menstrual cycle, a female’s body produces a lot of hormones. These might lead to blood glucose fluctuations, and these variations differ for each girl. Most females suffering from Type 1 diabetes find their glucose levels spike 3-5 days before their menses begins.
Is pregnancy possible in females with PCOS and diabetes?
Frequently, females with PCOS struggle with fertility, even if conception is not impossible. Females who get pregnant despite having PCOS must be aware that the risk for gestational diabetes is greater. This is since PCOS links to high blood glucose levels and insulin resistance.
- > https://health.clevelandclinic.org/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pill-not-remedy/
- > https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/pcos.html
- > https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/are-pcos-and-diabetes-connected
- > https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326185#the-link
Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.