Did you know that PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and diabetes are linked? Both PCOS and diabetes are considered insulin resistant diseases.

The link between diabetes and PCOS

Woman Diabetes Glucose Check

Did you know that PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and diabetes are linked? Both PCOS and diabetes are considered insulin resistant diseases. Although we see more insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics, women with type 1 diabetes are also at higher risk for PCOS. Insulin resistance is the inability of the body to utilize insulin effectively, which in turns causes an increased production of insulin by the pancreas. Once the pancreas is no longer able to keep up with the demand for insulin, diabetes occurs. 

Did you also know having PCOS is considered a risk factor for diabetes? PCOS is frequently used in screening undiagnosed women for diabetes. In addition to genetics, lifestyle factors such as high BMI, play a major role in both PCOS and diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, be sure to talk to your provider about your diabetes risk as well as prevention tips!

The most common signs and symptoms of PCOS in teens or adult women are:

  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
  • No periods or irregular periods
  • Heavy or prolonged bleeding
  • Painful periods
  • Inability to get pregnant
  • Acne
  • Facial hair (more than is normal for your ethnic group)
  • Waist measurement greater than 35 inches, or waist bigger than hips (apple shape)
  • Acanthosis nigricans (darker patches of skin in neck folds, armpits, folds in waistline or groin)

A person with diabetes may have many of the signs and symptoms of PCOS, in addition to other signs specific to elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Blurred vision
  • Tired, weak or dizzy
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Upset stomach, vomiting
  • Tingling or burning in the feet

Additional risk factors for diabetes in women include:

  • African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander descent
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Aged 45 and older
  • Diagnosed with prediabetes (HGB AIC 5.7% to 6.4%)
  • BMI over normal range 
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • History of high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • History of gestational diabetes (diabetes when you were pregnant)

To put this in perspective it is important to recognize:

  • 1 out of 3 adults have prediabetes
  • 1 in 3 adults have diabetes
  • 9 out of 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it
  • Half of the people with diabetes don’t know they have it
  • If prediabetes is left untreated, diabetes will develop within 5 years
  • 5 to10 percent of women in childbearing years have PCOS
  • Up to 30 percent of women have symptoms of PCOS