Women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a disorder in which a woman’s hormones are imbalanced, are highly prone to diabetes, according to new findings of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi.
Doctors from AIIMS, after conducting several surveys, researches and monitoring patients during Out Patient Department (OPD) sessions, discovered that insulin resistance is an integral part of PCOS and that women with the syndrome are at a higher risk for diabetes than others.
“Insulin resistance has been recognised as a risk factor for diabetes and may be the earliest detectable abnormality in individuals who later develop diabetes,” said Md. Ashraf Ganie, senior consultant (endocrinology) and assistant professor at AIIMS.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. When people have insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, leading to Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
“Apart from Type 2 diabetes, PCOS is also associated with an increased risk of developing other health problems later in life such as hyper tension, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, NASG and sleep apnea. However, it has been seen that 50 per cent of affected women are not aware of it,” said Dr Nutan Agarwal, gynaecologist at AIIMS.
What is PCOS
It is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age. In women affected by PCOS, ovaries make more androgens (male hormones produced by ovaries in women).
The cause is not yet fully understood but doctors say it may be genetic. Women suffering from PCOS have enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. It is one of the leading causes of infertility among women.
A woman has a greater chance of having PCOS if she has irregular periods and/or diabetes, and also the risk is greater if other women in her family have this condition. PCOS can be passed down from either side, the mother’s or father’s.
Symptoms include irregular menstrual periods, irregular ovulation, hirutism, weight gain, hair loss and oily skin or acne. But these are not standard symptoms, different women show different symptoms which means PCOS is very difficult to diagnose.
Of all PCOS cases across the world, 10 per cent belong to India. As per recent reports of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) 2014, diabetes is fast spreading across the world and over 387 million people will have diabetes by 2035.
How to tackle PCOS
A healthy diet and regular exercise is a must for all women with PCOS, especially those who are overweight. This can help to regulate the menstrual cycle and lower blood glucose levels. Avoiding tobacco products also reduces the risk of PCOS.