Do you know PCOS and insulin resistance are interlinked? Statistics reveal that 30-40% of females with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) also suffer from insulin resistance. The question is why both these conditions are interlinked? What are the symptoms that dictate the presence of insulin resistance among women with PCOS? In this article, we will try to address some of these questions and gain better insight into the link between PCOS and insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a condition wherein the body cells do not respond to secreted insulin, which leads to increased levels of glucose. If ignored for a long time, it can also lead to pre-diabetic conditions or type 2 diabetes. In some cases, insulin resistance can be the major root cause of PCOS and vice versa. The condition is also known to aggravate the symptoms of PCOS. Just like PCOS treatment, insulin resistance requires lifestyle modification and medication support. Moreover, to detect the condition early, every female with PCOS must be screened for insulin resistance.
Gaining some deeper insights
Insulin is produced in our body by the pancreas, a gland present in the abdomen region. The secretion of insulin takes in response to a hike in glucose levels in the blood. The sugar molecule enters into our blood after 15-20 minutes of intake of carbohydrates rich food. The presence of insulin helps the cells in our body to take up the glucose molecules and convert them into energy for further metabolic use.
Under insulin resistance conditions, the cells in our body do not respond to secreted insulin leading to a rise in blood glucose levels and low energy production. This condition later leads to diabetes as our body starts to deal with increased levels of glucose differently.
Understanding the link
It is a well-proven scientific fact that over a time PCOS condition increases the risk of developing diabetes. Despite the known fact that PCOS symptoms arise far earlier than that of insulin resistance, it is also believed that insulin-resistance might also play a crucial role in the onset of PCOS condition, rather than the other way around.
The increased level of insulin is one of the major factors behind inflammation and other metabolic conditions associated with PCOS. Though scientists know that there exists some connection between these two conditions, the actual cause of the link between two is yet to be unfolded.
Well, if you are thinking that insulin resistance affects all women with PCOS similarly then you are wrong. It does not have the same effect on all women, in some cases, it may lead to severe complications while in other cases it might not affect at all. As per some studies, it is suggested that obese condition is associated with insulin resistance which in turn impacts the functioning of hypothalamus and pituitary glands in the brain. These two glands are very crucial for the production of androgenic hormones, which increases in such conditions leading to PCOS. Imbalance in hormonal levels is often responsible for conditions like infertility, ovarian dysfunction, irregular menstruation and hirsutism among females with PCOS.
Likewise, changes in hormones due to insulin resistance often interfere with proper implantation of the embryo, supply of appropriate nutrient & energy to the fetus and much more, which impacts the overall growth of embryo leading to miscarriages and infertility. Moreover, having insulin resistance during pregnancy also increases the risk of gestational diabetes, which is very common among women with PCOS.
The associated symptoms
Symptoms of insulin resistance are similar in women who have PCOS and those who don’t. Women with PCOS need to be aware of these symptoms because of the strong correlation between the two conditions. The first common symptom observed changes in the appetite of the females. The insulin hormone is also a great appetite stimulant, which can be considered a major reason among women in PCOS for frequent cravings. This, in turn, leads to the secretion of other associated biomolecules which increases the craving for carbohydrate-rich food. This if continues in the long term leads to excessive weight gain and obese conditions. Moreover, it also increases the future risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and arthritis. A second common symptom of insulin resistance is a pre-diabetic condition. Here you will face a frequent hike in glucose levels post intake of carbohydrate-rich food. This often leads to tingling like feeling in feet, blood pressure imbalance, frequent urinations, thirsty and more.
The above-mentioned points highlight the importance of undertaking treatment for insulin resistance and PCOS. The brief understanding shows a certain relation between both these conditions. Though some scientific evidence is available, further research studies are needed to comprehensively explain the link. Researchers across the globe are working in this direction. Until then, follow the doctor’s recommendation along with a comprehensive diet and exercise plan. Since both the conditions are lifestyle-associated conditions, bringing significant improvement in lifestyle can help overcome the menace of PCOS.