Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Diabetes

There are two common disorders that are caused, at least in part, by insulin resistance. Diabetes is one of them, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the other. While the causes of each disorder are different, there are many common features.

PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women. With PCOS, the egg sacs within the ovary clump together and form cysts, blocking the monthly release of eggs. As a result, women with PCOS have irregular menstrual cycles or no menstrual cycles at all, limiting fertility.

While the precise causes of both disorders remain elusive, there is a statistically significant relationship between PCOS and type 2 diabetes in several large recent studies. An Italian study, published in Diabetes, followed a group of 225 women with PCOS for up to 17 years. When the study ended, nearly 40% of the women in the study had developed diabetes. This contrasts with about 6% of healthy women of the same age in the same population who developed diabetes.

A Swedish study compared 87 women without PCOS and 84 women with PCOS. After 14 years, 21% of the women with PCOS developed diabetes, while only 4.5% of those without PCOS became diabetic.

Androgens and Insulin

With PCOS, the ovaries tend to make too many androgens, which are male hormones such as testosterone. There is some evidence that insulin resistance, resulting in high levels of insulin in the blood, might be a contributing factor to increased androgen production.

Metabolic Syndrome

The metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of raised fasting glucose levels or diagnosed diabetes, abdominal obesity, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels and high blood pressure. Metabolic syndrome leads to a variety of complications, including a two-fold increased risk for cardiovascular disease and a five-fold increased risk for diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

Metabolic syndrome is considered a leading marker in predicting the onset of type 2 diabetes.

PCOS shares many of the same symptoms of metabolic syndrome, leading researchers to consider the possibility that diabetes and PCOS are manifestations of the same underlying syndrome with genetic factors causing one disease to dominate.

Treatment of PCOS

Like diabetes, PCOS is a chronic disease which can be managed but not cured. Treatment of PCOS includes the use of birth control pills, to reduce androgen production and regulate menstruation. Insulin-sensitizing medications like metformin may also be prescribed.

Just as with diabetes, weight loss, healthy diet and exercise are all extremely important in managing the disease. Even a 10% weight loss can go a long way in reducing the symptoms of PCOS and lessen the likelihood of ultimately developing diabetes as well.

Sources: National Institutes of Health , International Diabetes Foundation, Diabetes.org and CNN Health

Photo image courtesy Mallinaltizan

Get A Free 7 Day Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who, in addition to 3rd party partners, may contact you with updates, products and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy and terms and conditions.

More Articles

Bilberry tea sounds like the favorite drink at a Hobbit cafe, but the mild sounding bilberry comes with a tall list of powerful health benefits....

With its slightly nutty flavor, chewy texture, and nutritional punch farro is an ancient whole grain worth a place in our pantry.

Farro...

=It’s helpful to know the difference between a food’s total grams of carbohydrate, and net grams of carbohydrate since only net carbs affect blood...

One way to ensure our body gets a variety of nutrients is eating nutrient-dense foods, and one of the most nutrient-dense foods on our planet is...

In Ayurvedic and Oriental Medicine, herbs are frequently used to help people regulate their blood sugar. It is less common, but not unheard-of, in...

More Articles

Este Haim, bassist and vocalist of the indie pop band Haim, discusses living with type 1 diabetes. She talks...

One way to ensure our body gets a variety of nutrients is eating nutrient-dense foods, and one of the most nutrient-dense foods on our planet is...

You may think beer, wine, and liquor would be categorized as food, but in reality, alcohol is a drug. Just like medications, alcohol has powerful...

It is estimated that 80,000 children and adolescents each year are diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. Juvenile diabetes is diagnosed when the body...

Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that eating peanuts or peanut butter at breakfast can help keep your blood...

Of the 100,000 people diagnosed with kidney disease each year in the U.S., 43.8 percent of them will have developed it because of diabetes,...

=It’s helpful to know the difference between a food’s total grams of carbohydrate, and net grams of carbohydrate since only net carbs affect blood...

Bilberry tea sounds like the favorite drink at a Hobbit cafe, but the mild sounding bilberry comes with a tall list of powerful health benefits....

Steve Gilbert, the writer of the blog Without Envy, has a young daughter named Lia who has diabetes. This...

Danica, better known by her YouTube username, DiabeticDanica, has had Type 1 diabetes...

Two of the most common symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst and increased urine production. These symptoms are so prevalent in diabetics that...

A common complication associated with diabetes is swollen feet. The swelling can...

Diabetic patients who must inject insulin daily (or multiple times a day) often deal with the side effect of injection-site bruising. Luckily,...

Diabetes and hypoglycemia appear as very similar conditions because one of the consequences of diabetes can be hypoglycemia. Both conditions...

It’s only been recently that doctors, including endocrinologists, have realized the starring role gut microbes play in our health. The unique...