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Do you have PCOS? You could be at an increased risk of diabetes

Published on:27 November 2020, 18:02pm IST
Yes, PCOS is a risk factor for diabetes. Here’s what you can do to reduce your chances of getting this disease.
PCOS and diabetes
PCOS and diabetes share a toxic relationship. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects about 1 in 5 women. In this condition fluid filled cysts appear on the surface of the ovaries causing disturbances in the menstrual cycle. It is one of the most common hormonal issues in young women trying to conceive. The exact cause of PCOS is not known yet, but higher androgen levels, obesity and family history of diabetes play important roles.

PCOS can lead to diabetes

Research says that up to 10% of patients with PCOS will develop diabetes. PCOS is related to insulin resistance. Either the pancreas struggles to produce enough insulin as per the body requirement or even if insulin is produced—it remains less effective to control the blood sugar levels. And so the body is forced to produce extra insulin to overcome this.

Increased insulin stimulates the ovaries to generate more testosterone which can obstruct normal ovulation and can result in irregular menstrual cycles, acne, and excessive growth of facial hair.

According to several diabetologists insulin also contributes to increasing our appetite or the craving for eating sweets. It also damages fatty acid oxidation that makes the process of fat burning more difficult and eventually contributes to weight gain. Obesity is considered a major risk factor for both PCOS and type 2 diabetes.

pcos and periods
If you have PCOS, then you have a higher risk of diabetes. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Also, read: Struggling with PCOS? Try these workouts to manage the syndrome better

It has been observed that PCOS can also increase the cholesterol levels in blood and cholesterol enhances the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack. PCOS is responsible for some other complications as well, including sleep apnea, mood disorders, depression and bipolar disorder, endometrial cancer etc.

Here are some symptoms of diabetes to look out for
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Blurry vision
  • A frequent urge to urinate, particularly at night
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Dark patches on the skin
  • Cuts that tends to take longer time to heal
  • Numbness in the hands or feet

There is no single cure for PCOS, but maintaining a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly can be helpful. Women, who are obese, should focus on weight reduction as this reduces the risks of PCOS related complications.

In select cases, doctors recommend birth-control pills to ensure regular periods and to control acne, abnormal facial hair growth and hair loss. As PCOS and diabetes are closely interconnected, it is recommended that women with PCOS should undergo screening for type 2 diabetes.

Dr Uma Vaidyanathan Dr Uma Vaidyanathan

Dr Uma is a senior consultant at obstetrics and gynaecology department, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh.