5 Common Questions About PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and Diabetes (and Their Answers!)
With so many different health concerns plaguing women, it's not surprising that two of the major "flare-ups" both have to do with hormones. One of these is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, PCOS for short. It affects up to 10% of the female population and can cause inflammation of the pancreas, leading to type 2 diabetes. There are also other health issues that come with this condition that need further care beyond just being treated for blood sugar levels.
1) What is PCOS? And what does it stand for?
It's a common hormonal disorder that affects how a woman's ovaries function. The name stands for "polycystic ovarian syndrome". It can cause menstrual issues, such as not having periods or irregular periods.
2) What are the different types of PCOS?
There are three basic types: insulin-resistant, hyperandrogenic and normoandrogenic. Each one has slightly different symptoms and should be treated differently to achieve best results.
3) How is PCOS diagnosed?
The first step is a general exam with your gynecologist to confirm whether you have any ovarian cysts via an ultrasound test. Then, your doctor will likely ask about your medical history and conduct additional testing including blood tests or a pelvic ultrasound.
4) Are there any types of PCOS? And what are they?
There are three main types of PCOS : insulin-resistant, hyperandrogenic and normoandrogenic. Insulin-resistant is when your body doesn't use insulin properly (though it may produce too much) causing blood sugar levels to be high. Hyperandrogenic is if the ovary produces too many male hormones called androgens that may lead to excessive hair or acne growth. Normal Androgen causes elevated male hormone levels in the bloodstream but with normal amounts of ovarian androgens (male hormones).
5) How common is PCOS?
It's estimated that 5 million women suffer from this condition in the US alone. Out of those, about 10% will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years if they aren't treated.
What are the risks associated with PCOS? And how does it affect people living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes?
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Both types involve issues with insulin regulation (how well your body uses insulin), but they're caused by distinct problems within the body.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for 90-95 percent of all cases in adults. It's generally associated with older people and weight gain related to aging, but it can develop at any age. Without treatment, high blood sugar levels caused by type 2 diabetes over time will cause serious damage to the body.
Generally speaking, people who have type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin because their bodies see insulin as a foreign substance that needs to be attacked and destroyed. Type 1 diabetes usually appears during childhood or adolescence, although it can appear at any age; however, about 5% of new cases are diagnosed among adults between ages 30 and 44 every year. People who have type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day in order to survive.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes share some common symptoms, such as excessive thirst and hunger. But diabetics with type 1 diabetes don't produce any insulin at all, while diabetics with Type 2 diabetes still produce insulin but it doesn't work very well. People with Type 1 diabetes will often feel hungry and thirsty without realizing why; their bodies aren't getting enough energy from food, so they need more of it even though they're already eating a lot.
Other symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes include: frequent urination (especially during the night), unintentional weight loss or gain, extreme tiredness or fatigue that isn't relieved by sleep, cuts and bruises that are slow to heal, and blurry vision.
The risk factors for developing type 1 diabetes include having a family history of the condition (type 1 is an autoimmune disorder), exposure to certain viruses (like Epstein-Barr or Coxsackie), and low levels of vitamin D in the body. The risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being 45 years old or older, having a family history of diabetes in your immediate family (parent, sibling, child), and not exercising regularly. Being overweight (body mass index greater than 25) and having high blood pressure also puts you at higher risk for type 2 diabetes; other conditions like PCOS , metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and insulin resistance put you at increased risk for both types of diabetes.
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