Living with PCOS is challenging enough. The looming risk of other chronic diseases adds to the stress. That’s right, you may have heard that once PCOS comes into your life, it is almost inevitable that Type 2 Diabetes will. What is this connection between PCOS and Diabetes? Can Diabetes be prevented if you have PCOS? Let’s find out.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder commonly seen in women of reproductive age. In PCOS, the ovaries produce more than the normal amount of male hormones called androgens, which are produced in women but in smaller amounts.
The increased androgen levels cause problems with ovulation, irregular menstrual cycles, and other symptoms of PCOS.
Reseach hasn't yet clearly established what causes PCOS. However, insulin resistance and high blood insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia) are considered to be contributory factors.
Type 2 Diabetes is a chronic disease where your blood sugar levels are high. Your cells develop resistance to insulin (a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in your bloodstream) and your pancreas fails to produce enough insulin to regulate the increased blood glucose levels.
Individuals with PCOS develop insulin resistance. When your body becomes resistant to insulin, your cells lose the ability to take up glucose (sugar) from your food, which causes increased blood sugar levels. This causes the pancreas to produce more insulin to stabilise the blood sugar levels. The high insulin levels in your blood lead to increased production of androgens in the body.
Studies suggest that when your body develops insulin resistance in PCOS, it leads to elevated blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), which, over time, may lead to prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.
Thus, insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, seen in PCOS, are also responsible for the potential development of Type 2 Diabetes.
Apart from this, obesity and family history, which are risk factors for developing PCOS, are considered to be risk factors for the development of Type 2 Diabetes as well.
Research suggests that around 50% of women with PCOS develop diabetes by the time they are 40 years of age. PCOS patients also tend to get diabetes at a younger age than women who do not have the condition.
It should be noted that those with PCOS are also at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. Thus, women with PCOS should get screened for diabetes regularly.
Some of the early signs of Type 2 Diabetes that you should look out for include:
You may be able to prevent Type 2 Diabetes even if you have PCOS. By adopting a healthy lifestyle for PCOS, which includes measures such as eating healthy, staying physically active, and getting regular health check-ups, you can reduce your weight and lower your blood glucose levels. This can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
There are several small steps that you can take to reverse insulin resistance and prevent or delay Type 2 Diabetes. These steps include:
A healthy balanced PCOS diet can help you control your blood sugar levels and prevent the development of Type 2 Diabetes. You can include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and low-fat dairy in your meals. Also, try to have smaller portions of food multiple times a day.
Maintaining a healthy weight is necessary to control your blood sugar levels and the symptoms of PCOS. If you are overweight, even a minor reduction in your body weight can lead to a considerable change in your blood sugar levels. Having a healthy diet plan and staying active can help you manage your weight.
Make sure to stay physically active and exercise regularly. Other than maintaining a healthy weight, exercise also helps you control your blood sugar levels. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week. You can include aerobic exercises such as running or biking and low-impact exercises such as yoga or pilates in your workout plan.
Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly can help you detect any changes in your blood sugar and take action early. This can be helpful, especially if you are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Managing your blood sugar levels will in turn help you manage the symptoms of PCOS and prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
If you have irregular monthly periods or any other symptom of PCOS contact a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment. If a diagnosis of PCOS is confirmed, you should discuss with the doctor about getting tested for Type 2 Diabetes and how to manage the condition if you have it.
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