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Why Women With PCOS Are More Likely To Develop Type 2 Diabetes?

Why Women With PCOS Are More Likely To Develop Type 2 Diabetes?
Being overweight is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Women with PCOS are also often insulin resistant, a risk factor for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Here are some tips for women with PCOS to prevent diabetes.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : September 17, 2022 11:03 AM IST

Research suggests that women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus. Let's try to understand how these two conditions are related.

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that is common among women of reproductive age. It is a condition in which the ovaries produce an abnormal amount of androgens, also called male sex hormones. The hormonal imbalance can interfere with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation) and cause irregular periods, acne, and excess hair growth on the face and body.

Women with PCOS are also often insulin resistant, a risk factor for pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is when your body can't respond properly to the insulin it makes and can't use glucose from your blood for energy. Over time this results in elevated levels of glucose in the blood and increases risk for type 2 diabetes.

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Insulin resistance may actually be the cause of PCOS

Insulin resistance is believed to play a role in causing PCOS as well as exacerbating its symptoms.

The pancreas, a gland in the abdomen, produces insulin in response to increased blood levels of glucose that comes from the food you eat. Insulin allows the cells throughout the body to absorb glucose which serves as energy to them. When someone has insulin resistance, the cells do not respond to insulin as efficiently as it should be, leading to high glucose levels in the blood. Insulin resistance usually precedes type 2 diabetes.

Insulin resistance may also contribute to inflammation and other metabolic complications associated with PCOS. However, the relationship between these two conditions are not very clear yet. Moreover, not all women with insulin resistance develop PCOS.

Some experts opine that obesity-associated insulin resistance alters the function of the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that helps control the release of hormones from the pituitary gland. This leads to increased production of androgenic hormones, which contribute to PCOS.

Symptoms of insulin resistance

As insulin is an appetite stimulant, an increase in appetite could be a symptom of insulin resistance. This may explain why women with PCOS experience frequent cravings for sweets. An increase in appetite may lead to weight gain, which in turn increases risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Insulin resistance may cause high blood sugar levels for a prolonged time after eating. This can lead to symptoms like decreased energy, increased thirst, and frequent urination. Over time, it can lead to type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions.

Therefore, women with PCOS are recommended to regularly check for insulin resistance. Early detection can allow earlier initiation of treatment. Fasting Blood Glucose Test: Glucose Tolerance Test: Glycosylated Hemoglobin A1C are common tests used to screen for insulin resistance.

Tips for women with PCOS to prevent diabetes

If you have PCOS, incorporating some healthy lifestyle habits including daily exercise and a well-balanced diet can help prevent developing diabetes. Cut down on fats and sugars, eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Being overweight is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance also runs in families. But no matter what caused the insulin resistance, losing weight will help improve symptoms associated with it.