Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is endocrine-metabolic disorder that affects 5-10% of females of reproductive age and is the leading cause of female infertility globally. Females with PCOS are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes because of the insulin resistance that this disorder causes. Overweight, obese or normal weight women with PCOS are often insulin resistant.

What Is Insulin Resistance?

When we eat under normal conditions, the hormone insulin, rises for a short period after meals. It functions to stimulate the liver and muscles to take up sugars, which we get by eating food. These sugars are taken form the blood stream and converted into energy. That then causes the amount of sugar in the blood to drop, which leads to a decrease in blood insulin levels. This is known as normal insulin sensitivity.

With insulin resistance, the pancreas has to produce more insulin to normalize blood sugar levels. This process causes inflammation; weight gain and can lead to type 2 diabetes. 

What Can You Do About It?

Often insulin resistance in PCOS is managed by oral insulin sensitization medication as well as contraceptives. You can speak to your general practitioner to finds out more about this. Dietary and behavioural changes go hand in hand with this management.

A healthy balanced diet is key in the management of insulin resistance in PCOS. This would include a low GI diet, low in fats and sugars. Physical activity and weight loss are extremely beneficial. Research indicates that weight loss of 5% of your body weight, shows improvement on well-being and insulin sensitivity.

For an individualized plan and expert advice on nutrition to manage PCOS, contact your nearest dietician. 

Reference: Briden, L., 2018. The link between PCOS and insulin resistance. [online] Helloclue.com. Available at: <https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/the-link-between-pcos-and-insulin-resistance> [Accessed 3 May 2021].