PCOS and Insulin

The Link Between PCOS and Insulin

Researchers are still looking for the answer to the question, “What causes polycystic ovary syndrome?” But one important fact is clear: PCOS and insulin are connected in complex ways. With a good understanding of the relationship between insulin and your fertility, you can take action to increase your odds of having a baby – with help from the PCOS experts at our New York fertility center.

PCOS and Insulin: A Complex Relationship

The hormone insulin regulates the amount of glucose, or sugar, in your blood. Glucose from your food enters your bloodstream and signals your pancreas to release insulin, which helps your body’s cells use and store glucose for energy.

In women with insulin resistance, cells stop responding to insulin, and the pancreas tries to compensate by pumping out more. Blood glucose continues to rise, often ending up stored as fat. While being overweight is associated with both PCOS and with insulin resistance, it’s not clear whether having PCOS causes weight gain, or if being overweight causes PCOS.

However, the link between PCOS and insulin resistance is well-documented. When your body produces too much insulin, your ovaries produce too many androgens, or male hormones. These hormones can stop the release of eggs from the ovaries and disrupt the menstrual cycle, making your periods irregular and making it harder to become pregnant naturally.

Androgens are also the culprit behind many other inconvenient symptoms of PCOS, such as acne, excess hair growing where you don’t want it, and thinning hair where you do.

There’s more to the complex story of PCOS and insulin than just infertility. High insulin levels associated with PCOS can lead to serious health complications, such as:

  • Gestational diabetes, a high-risk form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes, which occurs in more than half of women with PCOS by the time they turn 40
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Stroke

While these conditions can happen in women with PCOS who maintain a healthy weight, they tend to be even more common in women with PCOS who are overweight.

Hope for PCOS Patients

Once you understand the relationship between PCOS and insulin resistance, it’s also important to know that the risk of complications grows as you age. Making a lifelong commitment to healthy eating and exercise can help many women lose weight and reduce insulin resistance, which can reduce the symptoms of PCOS.

Joel Batzofin, M.D., a renowned expert in the diagnosis and treatment of PCOS, leads a dedicated PCOS clinic at our New York fertility center that provides tailored care, nutritional support and ongoing monitoring for all PCOS patients. Dr Batzofin works closely with nutritionist Randi Cestaro, who herself suffers from PCOS, to bring personalized care to our patients dealing with this complex disorder.

While this lifelong condition can be especially difficult during the childbearing years, Dr. Batzofin offers treatment – and hope. To learn more about the relationship between PCOS and insulin resistance, or to find out about upcoming support events for PCOS patients, contact us to schedule a consultation.