5 Things You Need to Know About PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) and Diabetes


You may be aware that increased rates of insulin resistance (i.e., the inability to properly use the hormone insulin) are associated with diabetes; however, did you know that increased insulin resistance can also lead to PCOS? Although this is not always the case, it may be useful for women with PCOS who are considering their reproductive options.

Let's take a closer look at both conditions and how they interact:

1. Insulin Resistance May Trigger PCOS

Being affected by both conditions does not mean you'll inevitably develop symptoms of both PCOS and diabetes – there's a chance you may only suffer from one or neither condition – but if your body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels correctly due to high insulin levels, you may have a greater chance of developing PCOS.

Not only does insulin resistance drive the development of PCOS, but it's also thought to be one of the main reasons why women with PCOS are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes; some researchers even argue that insulin resistance is an underlying cause of both conditions.

2. Diabetes Increases The Risk Of Some Cancers In People Affected By PCOS      

A meta-analysis of studies involving more than 150,000 individuals with type 2 diabetes found that those affected by both conditions had a 30 percent increased risk for cancers including breast, kidney and thyroid cancers while women had double the risk for endometrial cancer when compared to people without either condition. There's some evidence showing that treating polycystic ovarian syndrome reduces the risk of developing some cancers.

3. Women with Diabetes Tend to Have More Severe Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

As many as one in five women with type 1 diabetes and up to 50 percent of women with type 2 diabetes suffer from PCOS; this is far higher than the rate among the general population (estimated at between 5 and 10 percent).  Although more research is needed before we can fully understand why these figures are so high, most experts believe that insulin resistance may be to blame.

It's thought that your blood sugar levels play an important role in the severity of PCOS symptoms; women who have type 1 diabetes with high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or type 2 diabetes with elevated glucose (impaired fasting glycemia/impaired glucose tolerance) tend to have more severe ovulation problems and irregular periods than women without diabetes.

4. Diabetes Drugs May Help Treat Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Symptoms      

If you're overweight, losing weight can help improve your body's ability to use insulin properly by reducing fat around your waistline and increasing muscle mass, which in turn lowers your risk of developing both conditions. However, if you're already taking diabetes medications, your doctor may recommend that you stop taking these drugs at least two to three days before having sex in order to allow your improved insulin sensitivity to take effect.

You'll then need to re-start at a lower dose once you're able to have sex again safely. Even better news is that the progestin-containing intrauterine device ( IUD ) has been found to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up 70 percent among overweight women, so it may also be useful for reducing your chance of developing PCOS or diabetes even further.

understanding PCOS

5. Diabetes Can Make Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Symptoms Worse      

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, being affected by PCOS makes your disorder harder to manage. Additionally, if you have PCOS and diabetes, the insulin resistance stemming from the polycystic ovarian syndrome can make diabetes harder to treat. This may include having less effective medications or higher doses of insulin needed for glycemic control.

PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that affects many women and can also be an indicator of diabetes. If you or someone close to you has had some trouble with the symptoms, here are five things you need to know about it so your next doctor's appointment will go more smoothly.  We're happy to answer any questions you might have on this topic - just call us today!

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