What is PCOS?
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS is a reproductive disorder caused by elevated levels of androgens in women. It is currently the most common female endocrine disorder. Insulin resistance, irregular periods, acne, cravings, cysts on the ovaries and difficulty losing weight and increased weight gain are all reported in PCOS.
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin is a hormone which is produced by the pancreas. On of its main functions is to control the amount of glucose in the blood. It helps to move glucose out of the blood and into cells, where it is broken down to produce energy.
However, insulin resistance means that the body's tissues are resistant to the effects of insulin. The body therefore has to produce extra insulin to compensate.
High levels of insulin cause the ovaries to produce too much testosterone which interferes with the development of the follicles and prevents normal ovulation. Irregular ovulation is a key factor which can contribute to difficulty in getting pregnant.
Insulin resistance in women with PCOS is associated with an increased risk of the development of type 2 diabetes.
What can you do to treat insulin resistance?
Weight loss of 5% of body weight in those who are overweight or obese has been shown to lead to improvements in PCOS, specifically in insulin resistance, testosterone production and ovulation.