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PCOS & Insulin Resistance

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the fertility disorders experienced by women. The results of the study of PCOS are thought to involve primary defects in the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, insulin secretion and activity, and ovarian function.

Until now, the cause of PCOS has not been found. However, PCOS itself has been linked to insulin resistance and obesity. Insulin resistance is believed to be the principal underlying etiologic factor. This opinion is evidenced by the high incidence of insulin resistance in patients with PCOS. Insulin itself serves to help regulate ovarian function, and then the ovaries will respond to excess insulin levels by producing androgens.

Read more on PCOS: Definition, Symptoms, Types, Treatments.

Before we discuss the relationship between PCOS and insulin resistance, we will first discuss a little bit about insulin resistance itself.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body's cells cannot use blood sugar properly and ignore the signals given by insulin. This causes the body to be unable to respond properly to this hormone.

Insulin resistance has no specific symptoms, so some people develop insulin resistance for years without ever realizing it.

The first process of insulin resistance is when the body consumes carbohydrates in food. Furthermore, the carbohydrates that have been consumed will turn into glucose, and then it releases into the blood stream. Glucose that has been absorbed will be converted into energy in the cells.

When a person experiences insulin resistance, there will be a disruption in the glycolysis process, where the pancreas continues to produce insulin but the cells in the body cannot absorb glucose properly. Because of this, this condition causes glucose levels in the body to rise and be above normal limits.



Factors Causing Insulin Resistance

Until now, the exact cause of insulin resistance is still unknown. However, there are several factors that are considered to be the cause of insulin resistance. Some of these factors include:

  • Obesity or overweight
  • Genetics
  • Prolonged stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Excessive sugar consumption
  • Taking corticosteroid drugs
  • Having PCOS

PCOS’ Relationship with Insulin Resistance

Several studies have found that insulin resistance is associated with clinical manifestations of PCOS. Insulin is a hormone that functions to control blood sugar in the body. Insulin resistance will cause a condition called hyperinsulinemia as a compensatory reaction to insulin insensitivity. High insulin levels will stimulate ovarian androgen production by various mechanisms.

Women who have PCOS are more likely to develop insulin resistance. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, women with PCOS are prone to insulin resistance. In this condition, their bodies can actually make insulin but cannot use it effectively, thus increasing the risk of insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance in PCOS sufferers can be caused by damage to the signaling process at the insulin receptor. In addition, insulin resistance is related to adiponectin, where adiponectin is a hormone produced by adipocytes that functions to regulate lipid metabolism and glucose levels in the body.

In addition, women with PCOS also have higher levels of androgens (a male hormone that women also have), which can stop the release of eggs (ovulation) and cause irregular periods, acne problems, thinning scalp hair, and excessive facial and body hair growth.

High insulin levels can also trigger suppression of the production of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), which is a hormone produced in the liver. This condition can also exacerbate hyperandrogenemia, where this hyperandrogenemia can increase the proportion of free circulating androgens.

How to Lower Insulin Resistance


As already explained, insulin resistance makes insulin levels in the body too high. For women who have insulin resistance conditions, their bodies will experience high blood sugar spikes.

How to reduce insulin resistance

For this reason, it is very important to maintain a healthy body in order to reduce insulin resistance. There are several things you can do to reduce insulin resistance in the body.

  • Regular Exercise
    The first way you can do this is by exercising regularly. Regular exercise can improve insulin performance and reduce insulin resistance.

    Exercises that are effective for reducing insulin resistance are weight lifting and aerobic exercise. In addition, aerobics is also suitable for people with obesity and diabetes. If you want faster results, you can combine aerobic exercise with weight lifting.

  • Set a Healthy Diet
    In addition to exercise, you can also start to consume a healthier diet to reduce insulin resistance. You can consume vegetables, fruit, whole grains, or foods rich in fiber, especially soluble fiber.

    Soluble fiber is one type of fiber that is easily digested by the body. By consuming foods that contain soluble fiber, the stomach will be fuller. This will reduce the number of calories and lose weight. This weight loss can also help reduce the risk of insulin resistance.

  • Low Carbohydrate Diet
    The three kinds of macronutrients that we often consume are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

    Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body's cells cannot use blood sugar properly and ignore the signals given by the hormone insulin. Therefore, one way to reduce insulin resistance is a carbohydrate diet. A carbohydrate diet will make blood sugar levels drop, and this will also decrease insulin levels in the body. Carbohydrate diets have also been shown to be effective for lowering sugar levels in PCOS sufferers.

For now, there is no cure for insulin resistance. However, by doing some of the ways mentioned above, you can reduce insulin resistance in your body. That way, you can prevent the condition from getting too serious.

If you find it difficult to handle it, you can consult a doctor or other medical expert to get a more precise treatment.

Read more on 6 Ways to Treat PCOS

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