PCOS and Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke...
Ever heard of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)? If you’re a woman who has had trouble getting pregnant, you might have. Just about everyone else? Probably not.
PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility, affecting 6% to 12% (as many as 5 million) of US women of reproductive age. But it’s a lot more than that. Women with PCOS are often insulin resistant, meaning they don’t respond effectively to insulin so their bodies keep making more. Excess insulin is thought to increase the level of androgens (male hormones that females also have) produced by the ovaries (egg-producing organs), which can stop eggs from being released (ovulation) and cause irregular periods, acne, thinning scalp hair, and excess hair growth on the face and body.
What’s more troubling, high insulin levels from PCOS can lead to serious health problems, especially for women who are obese:
Gestational diabetes (diabetes when pregnant)—which puts the pregnancy and baby at risk and can lead to type 2 diabetes later in life
Stroke—plaque (cholesterol and white blood cells) clogging blood vessels can lead to blood clots that in turn can cause a stroke
PCOS is also linked to depression and anxiety, though the connection is unclear.
What Causes PCOS?
The exact causes of PCOS aren’t known at this time, but both weight and family history—which are in turn related to insulin resistance—appear to play a part.
Does being overweight cause PCOS? Does PCOS make you overweight? The relationship is complicated and not well understood. Being overweight is associated with PCOS, but many wom Continue reading