PCOS awareness: Know how it is linked to diabetes and secondary infertility

PCOS impacts vital functions in a woman's body. A doctor explains its relation and relevance to diabetes and secondary infertility.

PCOS side effects
PCOS can hamper your overall health too. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Kshitiz Murdia Published on: 30 September 2022, 08:59 am IST
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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women of childbearing age. There are multiple side effects of PCOS. This disorder disturbs the body’s hormonal balance and results in irregular or extended menstrual cycles. PCOS causes follicles with immature eggs to form cysts which begin to grow inside the ovaries and not mature. The inability to develop mature eggs might interfere with ovulation and result in issues such as infertility.

Causes and symptoms of PCOS

PCOS is closely associated with insulin resistance and higher levels of the hormone testosterone. Numerous factors, including family history, insulin resistance, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, etc., have an impact on PCOS.

PCOS may cause several problems such as fertility issues, infrequent or prolonged periods, weight gain, depression, excess body hair growth and acne, hair loss, hypertension and diabetes. With lifestyle changes and additional stressors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, India has seen a spike in PCOS cases in recent times.

Obesity and PCOS
Obesity is a major driver of PCOS. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Relationship between PCOS and diabetes

One in every sixth diabetic person over the world is an Indian. India is one of the top 10 countries with the most diabetics, with over 77 million individuals living with the disease. While diabetes is affecting people world over, it is becoming a greater challenge for women suffering from PCOS.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus and PCOS have long been believed to be related. As per a research by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), one in four women suffer from PCOS and over one in 10 women between the age group of 35 to 49 suffer from diabetes.

A woman with PCOS experiences endocrine system disruption and an increase in androgen, often known as male hormone. It is also believed that high quantities insulin are produced by the pancreas as a result of insulin resistance by the insulin receptors, causing PCOS. Thus, women who develop PCOS as young adults are more likely to develop diabetes and, possibly heart problems in later life.

Women’s capacity to conceive is negatively impacted by both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, which are both characterized by irregular or non-existent menstruation (oligomenorrhea) and/or secondary amenorrhea. These issues are all closely related to obesity.

Diabetes can also affect fertility in women by delaying the onset of menstruation (or menarche). This can lead to high sugar, causing rapid and early ovarian aging as evidenced by pre-mature menopause. Particularly in women of childbearing age, diabetes is linked to irregular menstrual cycles. Thus, diabetes can impact the biological clock and limit a female’s reproductive lifespan.

PCOS affects menstrual cycle
PCOS affects menstrual cycle. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Relationship between PCOS and secondary infertility:

In simple words, Secondary Infertility is the inability to become pregnant for a second time. Secondary infertility is a serious issue that happens more frequently to couples than one may think.

Hormonal imbalances (whether too high or too low) can cause the brain-ovary relationship to be disrupted. The ovary doesn’t get the word that it’s intended to release an egg every month if the brain doesn’t provide the right signals. Some of these hormonal abnormalities may manifest themselves later in life. Thyroid, pituitary gland, or a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome are all examples of hormonal imbalances.

Secondary (and main) infertility is frequently brought on by PCOS, which can interfere with ovulation. One should consult their doctor to determine whether they have PCOS when their periods are erratic or non-existent.

healthy habits t manage pcos
Eat healthy, stay strong. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Prevention and care for PCOS

To avoid the side effects of PCOS in the long run, women dealing with it should adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Regular exercise would aid in reducing insulin resistance in the body, fight obesity, and burn off extra sugar.

For the body and mind to remain in good shape, a well-balanced nutritional diet rich in proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats, as well as lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, is essential. Getting enough sleep is essential for hormone regulation and stress reduction.

Making such healthy lifestyle changes and choices can play key role in curbing hormonal imbalances in the body and reducing the risk of diabetes and or PCOS. It is also advised to consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment plan, especially if one is planning to conceive a child.

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About the Author
Dr Kshitiz Murdia Dr Kshitiz Murdia

Dr Kshitiz Murdia is an IVF specialist. He is also the CEO and co-founder of Indira IVF.

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