Polycystic ovarian syndrome, commonly known as PCOS is an endocrinal disorder caused due to hormonal imbalance in the body. 8 in 10 women suffer from the condition but most of the time women are left undiagnosed. Women with PCOS have no periods or have very irregular periods, which ties back to the fact that PCOS is a major cause of infertility. PCOS is not curable but early diagnosis and treatment can help control symptoms and prevent long-term consequences.
Symptoms of PCOS tend to develop gradually although it may become rather an evident post weight gain. Other symptoms of the condition include very few or no menstruation with irregular bleeding, male pattern of balding, acne or oily skin, excessive hair growth etc. PCOS, if left undiagnosed and untreated may lead to serious consequences like infertility and Type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is also a major cause of PCOS.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body cells fail to respond to insulin and the cells are unable to effectively utilize the insulin. When the body becomes insulin resistant the muscles, fat and liver cells do not respond to insulin the way they should and become unable to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. The sugar is then retained in the blood, hence leading to excess blood sugar. For a brief period of time, the pancreas produces more insulin to keep up with the increased need. Over time the pancreas fails to keep up with the increased need for insulin, leading to Type 2 diabetes. Excess buildup of blood glucose leads to pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and various other health complications. As stated by research, understanding the link between insulin resistance and PCOS is rather crucial in the UAE because 1 in 5 women here suffer from type 2 diabetes.
In other cases, women with PCOS are also at the risk of gestational diabetes, a condition when pregnant women who have never had diabetes, have high sugar levels during pregnancy. If diagnosed with PCOS, complications of developing Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes increases drastically.
Another factor linked to both PCOS and diabetes is obesity. Half of the population of women in the UAE is clinically obese. According to the 2015 World Health Statistics report, UAE’s female residents are overweight as compared to men. This data is clearly worrying because of the health complications obese women face, the most common ones being heart diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Experts suggest that PCOS may be linked to hereditary factors but the definitive cause is still unknown. Changing lifestyle habits, early diagnosis to control symptoms and prevent complications, maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, having a balanced diet etc. will help in controlling symptoms. PCOS and diabetes have a well-established link and creating awareness about the same are extremely necessary.
Dr. Jayacy C Jayankar
Specialist Obstetrician & Gynaecologist
Aster Hospital Mankhol