Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) frequently have insulin resistance, meaning their bodies do not respond as efficiently to the hormone.
Insulin resistance (IR) impacts around 65-80% of women with PCOS, regardless of their weight. It reduces the ability of cells to process glucose normally, resulting in an accumulation of glucose in the blood (hyperglycaemia). The body compensates by secreting more insulin, resulting in elevated levels of insulin (hyperinsulinemia).
Insulin is a hormone with several different functions, particularly on the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Understanding these may help you understand your symptoms and treatment.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It works particularly on the liver and muscle cells, causing them to absorb more glucose from blood, where it is either broken down to produce energy or converted to long-term energy stores.
When someone is resistant to the effects of insulin, the blood sugar lowering action does not work properly and the body produces extra insulin.
Insulin has another effect; it causes the ovaries to produce testosterone, a male hormone or androgen. In most women this is within the normal range, but women with PCOS who have too much insulin may also produce too much testosterone. The raised levels of testosterone can give rise to some of the symptoms associated with PCOS, such as acne, excess hair growth and head-hair loss.
High levels of insulin and testosterone may also prevent the normal development of follicles in the ovaries, with many not developing fully. This causes problems with ovulation, so many women have period problems and reduced fertility.
A key part of your diet will be comprised of carbs which can be problematic with regard to insulin resistance. This is because carbs are broken down into glucose and released straight into the bloodstream – raising blood glucose levels. If you are overweight and are looking to shed a few pounds it is important to note that many diets offered by weight loss organisations are low calorie/high carb. This can cause intense fluctuations in your blood sugar levels which will only exacerbate your PCOS symptoms. It is important to be careful when selecting what types of food to include in your diet.
Slow-carb not low-carb – As with most things in the body there is a balance which needs to be struck. Omitting carbs from your diet is not a sustainable or healthy long-term practice. Instead, you should be looking for slow carbs, not low carbs. The slower release of energy from slow carbs, also known as low Gi (Glycaemic index) carbohydrates, will help to stabilise blood glucose levels and insulin production.
Some slow-carb foods to consider:
Metformin is a prescription medication, it works by decreasing the production of glucose in the liver, a common problem for ladies with PCOS. It should decrease insulin resistance and therefore help to manage the symptoms of PCOS. Although metformin has a role in reducing insulin resistance, it does not normalise insulin resistance in PCOS and has limited efficacy in infertility and can have unpleasant side-effects that may limit compliance. it’s important to speak to your doctor before managing your PCOS with metformin. Many women choose to use Inofolic Alpha as a natural way to manage their PCOS symptoms without the side-effect or need for a prescription.
Most couples will get pregnant within 12 months of trying if they are having sex regularly and are not using contraception. For women, the chances of success fall quite sharply each year once they reach the age of 35 but It is important to remember that both men and women become less fertile as they get older and the causes of infertility are almost equally spread between men and women.
Fertility Specialist Dr Gill Lockwood say’s “human beings are actually not very fertile even young couples have a one in four chance of getting pregnant each month they try and by the women’s mid-thirties this chance has dropped to one in eight.”. On top of this, modern lifestyle is often not conducive to having good fertile health. The truth is that, even if you are lucky and have perfect fertile health, there are things that can go wrong at every stage which make successful conception unlikely.
Try to not put yourself under too much pressure. It is very natural to feel stressed and anxious if you have been trying to conceive for a while with no success. Try to maintain relaxed, make manageable changes to your lifestyle to give yourself the best possible chance. If you have been trying to conceive for over 1 year without success, make an appointment to see your doctor for further investigation.