How Can PCOS Lead To Diabetes; Know Prevention

PCOS disease can increase the chances of diabetes as both are linked to each other

In recent times, diabetes has emerged as a major and fatal disease. Diabetes affects the whole body. Not only this but due to high blood sugar, many parts of the body stop working properly. In such a situation, it is important to control blood sugar. 

Many problems can be made worse by diabetes such as diseases of the eyes, feet or heart etc. There is a similar problem which we know as PCOS i.e. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This disease can increase the chances of diabetes. Diabetes and PCOS are linked to each other.

Dr Mansi Verma, Gynaecologist at Veera Health, Online PCOS Clinic said, "PCOS is an endocrinological disorder that affects much more than your reproductive health. It has metabolic consequences too that may be seen at puberty, during reproductive age or even after menopause. Both genetic (elevated levels of male hormones) and environmental factors (such as poor dietary choices, physical inactivity, obesity and chronic stress) are responsible for the development of insulin resistance and high levels of insulin in women suffering from PCOS."

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that affects the ovaries of women. Due to this, a large number of cysts appear on the surface of the ovaries. It is a hormonal condition in which excess androgens lead to troublesome conditions. Androgen is a male hormone. Some symptoms of PCOS are:
• Irregular menstrual cycles
• Hair growth on the face, chin or chest
• Hair thinning or hair loss
• Pelvic pain
• Infertility or problems getting pregnancy
• Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
• Acne on the chest, chin, back, or on face
• Depression and Anxiety: Most people suffering from this disease can feel problems like mood changes

The link between PCOS and Diabetes

The relationship between diabetes and PCOS is difficult to understand. But it is thought that increased testosterone levels may be the reason for insulin resistance. When the level of hormones such as testosterone increases, it stimulates insulin production. This causes insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are both responsible for the progression of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Verma said, "Insulin resistance is at the root cause of developing health complications such as glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes mellitus (10x higher risk) and dyslipidemia (high lipid levels). Performing early screening tests such as OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) with periodic reassessment helps in identifying the disease early. Diabetes is a progressive condition which means by early detection and management you can prevent the risk of developing diabetes in the future. Lifestyle modifications such as dietary changes from simple to complex carbohydrates, physical exercise (150 min /week), weight loss, smoking cessation, and sometimes even the use of drugs like metformin and nutraceuticals like myo-inositol help in managing PCOS as well as preventing diabetes."

By the age of 40, more than half of women with PCOS develop type 2 diabetes. According to a study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, those with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) develop type 2 diabetes (T2D) earlier and are more likely to be diagnosed with it.

Also, In a study conducted in Australia, researchers found that women with PCOS were 4 to 8.8 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women without PCOS. Obesity also played a significant role.

According to Dr Nivedita Gautam, BAMS, Diabetes and Asthma Expert, SRIAAS, up to 40 per cent of women with PCOS can have prediabetes (very high blood sugar level). Most of the patients with prediabetes are overweight or obese, she says. However, approximately 10 per cent of patients with PCOS will suffer from diabetes.

Dr Nishant Singh, MD of General Medicine, DNB – Rheumatology, MBBS, Meddo Health said, "Every 9 out 10 women these days suffer from PCOS. Hormones go on a rage and it's mostly caused due to sedentary lifestyle, environmental factors, or neuro endocrinalchemical factors. PCOS come with a lot of discomfort for the body and if not treated well it can cause infertility in women. The most common bodily changes that PCOS comes up with are, irregular periods, hormone imbalance and insulin resistance leading to type-2 diabetes also higher chances of Gestational Diabetes."

Is treatment possible?

The medical community is still unclear about the exact causes of polycystic ovary syndrome. However, doctors believe that high levels of insulin play an important role in this. High levels of hormones can also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Along with this, being overweight or obese is also a risk factor for diabetes and PCOS. In this case, people who are suffering from PCOS and do not care about their weight, diet or exercise, then this unhealthy lifestyle can put them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Dr Gautam said, "Treatments for the problem can vary. Lifestyle changes will be recommended, particularly in overweight patients. Lifestyle changes help with reducing insulin levels and improving symptoms like weight gain, hair growth and acne."

"Most of us tend to forget that PCOS is a lifestyle disorder and Insulin Resistance which can only be reversed with fine habits such as regular exercising, clean food, and a disciplined lifestyle. Healthy eating and regular exercising help in keeping the blood sugar levels in check that harness the propagation of type-2 diabetes," said Dr Singh.

Ways to prevent PCOS Diabetes

Modifications in the diet - Women with PCOS can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by changing the way they eat and when they eat as part of their primary treatment approach. One way to start is to eat more fibre-rich fruit and vegetables. Researchers found that women with PCOS with a diet high in fruits and vegetables had significantly improved insulin sensitivity.

Regular physical activity - The importance of exercise in lowering insulin and reducing diabetes risk goes along with changes to the foods you eat. Try to engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate-intense exercise most, if not all, days of the week. Make sure you do resistance training at least twice a week. Adding more movement to your diet by parking farther away from the door or taking steps rather than the elevator can also help.

Good sleep - There are more cases of sleep disturbances and disorders in women with PCOS than in women without PCOS, including obstructive sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleep loss or OSA can worsen insulin resistance. If you struggle to get a good night's sleep, or if you snore or have any of these symptoms, talk to a doctor about sleep apnea.

Lose weight - Weight gain or being obese is the main problem in PCOS that can lead to diabetes. In such a situation, you should keep your weight on track. Eating less fatty food, and doing weight-loss exercises are necessary for preventing obesity.

Tags assigned to this article:
PCOS diabetes physical wellbeing


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