Have you ever heard of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)? PCOS is the most common reproductive disorder in the world, affecting 8 to 20% of reproductive-age women, half of whom are unable to conceive. In addition, type 2 diabetes, ovarian and endometrial cancers, and heart disease are all at higher risk in people with PCOS. It’s common for women to learn they have PCOS when they have problems getting pregnant, but it frequently manifests as early as age 11 or 12, right after the first menstrual cycle. It may also start to develop in your 20s or 30s.
Women with PCOS frequently have insulin resistance, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes even if their bodies can produce insulin. Additionally, they have higher levels of androgens (male hormones that female also have), that can inhibit ovulation and cause irregular periods, acne, darkening of the skin in body creases and folds such as the back of the neck (acanthosis nigricans), thinning scalp hair, and excess hair growth on the face and body, a deeper voice, enlarged clitoris and she can develop cyst on the ovaries. Since insulin increases hunger, it stands to reason that many PCOS-afflicted women report having frequent cravings for sweets and other carb-heavy items. This causes weight gain, which raises the risk of health issues like diabetes, osteoarthritis, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, PCOS is also associated with depression and anxiety.
Understanding the underlying causes of the disease in its entirety is necessary for the effective treatment of PCOS. It is now known that PCOS frequently co-occurs with severe insulin resistance and insulin secretion issues. What causes PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) in response to insulin? The majority of androgens, or testosterone, is typically thought to be in men. Androgens do exist in women, although not in the same quantities. A woman begins to develop PCOS if she has an excessive amount of androgen.
Why does insulin lead to this illness? It does so by two distinct methods. The luteinizing (LH) hormone, a hormone produced by the pituitary, is part of the first mechanism. Luteinizing hormone, which travels from the pituitary to the ovaries, will rise when insulin levels are raised. One process involves theca cells, which are activated after this hormone interacts with the ovaries and boosts androgens. Androgen production is stimulated by insulin.
Low levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), not high levels of testosterone, are the second primary cause of the excess androgen impact found in PCOS. Inactive testosterone is transported by the protein known as SHBG; without SHBG, testosterone is free to have an impact. Even while overall testosterone levels are not unusually high, PCOS-afflicted women frequently have low levels of SHBG, which permits higher amounts of free testosterone and significantly increases the degree of testosterone’s influence on the body. As a result, high insulin levels result in increased testosterone synthesis as well as lower SHBG levels, both of which work together to amplify the effect of testosterone.
Most studies and available data indicate that hyperinsulinemia is most likely the root cause of the hyperandrogenism associated with PCOS. However, the standard therapy for PCOS-affected women with hyperandrogenic symptoms does not aim to treat the underlying hyperinsulinemia. Instead, standard therapies aim to reduce testosterone levels, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Instead, lowering insulin levels through food, lifestyle changes, and weight loss may be more effective in reducing PCOS symptoms overall and in preventing related diseases.