Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder affecting as many as 20% of reproductive-aged women worldwide. Two factors implicated in the development of PCOS – obesity and insulin resistance, are also risk factors for type 2 diabetes. In fact, studies show that one out of every two premenopausal women with morbid obesity will be diagnosed with PCOS. A recent study also found that women with PCOS are four times as likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when compared to women without PCOS.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of female sex hormones which may lead to changes in the menstrual cycle, cysts in the ovaries, skin changes such as increased facial and body hair and acne, and trouble getting pregnant.
Women of all ethnicities can be affected by PCOS. However, African American women have increased rates of hirsutism (excess hair growth on the face, chest, belly, or upper thighs), a higher risk of cardiovascular disease or metabolic syndrome, obesity and a lower likelihood of successful in vitro fertilization.
The Link Between PCOS and Type 2 Diabetes
If you have PCOS, you are more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as compared to a woman without PCOS. Dr. Lakeisha Richardson, a board-certified OB/GYN, in Greenville, Mississippi, says there are several reasons why women with PCOS are at increased diabetes risk. “One reason is because insulin resistance is a feature of PCOS. Secondly, most women with PCOS are obese which is another risk factor for type 2 diabetes.”
Obesity is also a risk factor for insulin resistance – particularly abdominal obesity, with fat accumulating around the belly. It is estimated that between 30 and 70% of women with PCOS are obese and 65 to 70% are insulin resistant.
Insulin is the hormone that helps move glucose into your cells to be used as energy. When you have insulin resistance, your body may be making plenty of insulin, but the insulin is unable to do its job properly. As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells. Over time, as insulin resistance progresses…