What’s the Connection Between
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a complex disorder that affects women by causing infertility, menstrual problems and potential long-term health issues. One of these concerns is an increased risk for developing diabetes. Is there a connection between PCOS and diabetes?
The main features of polycystic ovary syndrome are irregular or no periods, excessive facial hair growth in the absence of a medical condition that causes this type of hair growth, obesity and acne. The reason it brings about an increased risk for type 2 diabetes is due to insulin resistance helping to cause the metabolic changes in glucose metabolism leading to higher blood sugar levels after eating carbohydrates. In addition, having elevated male hormones called androgens contributes to this as well.
In women, PCOS occurs when the body does not ovulate regularly and these women will often have polycystic looking ovaries on ultrasound. In addition, there is a good chance they will have insulin resistance or diabetes since approximately half of these women do. However, even though obesity is one of the main features of PCOS, having this condition does not mean you are going to be obese. The other aspect that makes it difficult to diagnose this condition is that it will fluctuate over time where some months a woman may experience weight gain while other times she won’t gain or lose pounds because of how her body reacts to her monthly cycle.
In the United States, an estimated 5 million girls and women between 12 and 45 years old struggle with PCOS. It is unclear what causes it although genetics are believed to play a role as well as insulin resistance, obesity and environmental factors including exposure to certain chemicals in the environment or used on farms where food is grown.
The best form of treatment for PCOS includes dietary changes, weight management and exercise which will help decrease insulin resistance. If diabetic medication is required, this should be combined with these lifestyle changes because medications only work when women do not eat foods that cause an increase in blood sugar levels. Some fertility medications may be prescribed if pregnancy is desired but one condition of taking them will include regular monitoring of blood sugar levels since they can result in elevated glucose levels similar to having diabetes. The goal here would be to get pregnant without triggering diabetes.
A few oral contraceptives may be prescribed to decrease androgen production by the ovaries as well as help regulate a woman’s period. Additional medications such as glitazones, which improve insulin sensitivity may be prescribed if diet and exercise alone does not reduce glucose levels enough to avoid taking diabetes medication. These medications help your body respond better to insulin so it can function properly.
Overall, there is no clear answer as to what causes PCOS yet several theories exist that links obesity—defined as having a BMI greater than 30—and environmental factors such as exposure to certain chemicals in the environment or used on farms where food is grown as playing a role in this condition especially since rates of obesity have been increasing over the past couple of decades.
According to the American Diabetes Association , more than 18 million people in the United States have diabetes. About 5 to 10 percent of these adults and children actually have type 2 diabetes, which is often associated with obesity and lack of physical activity. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs during childhood or adolescence although it can rarely begin later in life due to certain conditions such as viral infection, genetic predisposition or autoimmune diseases that attack pancreatic beta cells resulting in a deficiency of insulin production.
Risk factors known for developing type 1 and type 2 diabetes include having a family history of the condition, being overweight or obese, living a sedentary lifestyle and African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans and Native Americans are at higher risk for developing the condition than Caucasians.
Women with PCOS who eat an unhealthy diet and don’t exercise enough are at a greater risk of developing diabetes than those without this condition.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects women of reproductive age. It’s characterized by the presence of small, fluid-filled sacs called cysts on the ovaries, and it can cause problems with periods, fertility, and metabolism. PCOS has also been linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes. If you think you may have PCOS or are concerned about your risk for diabetes, call us today to schedule an appointment. We can help you get started on the path to better health.
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