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Prediabetes and PCOS

Prediabetes and PCOS: What you need to know and what you can do about it

Sometimes women with Prediabetes have other health problems too! The most common is PCOS. Learn all about Prediabetes and PCOS in today's blog post.

We'll talk about what you need to know about PCOS and what you can do about PCOS. There is lots you can do about this condition, so don't miss this blog post!

More...

We've got a lot of ground to cover today with Prediabetes and PCOS, so let's first make sure we all understand:

  • What PCOS is
  • Common PCOS symptoms
  • What might cause PCOS
  • How PCOS is diagnosed
  • If PCOS is linked to insulin resistance
  • What you can do to reverse your PCOS symptoms (or at least lessen them)
Women Reproductive Health

I'll also tell you the hormone disruptors women with PCOS need to avoid.

We'll talk about safe birth control too!

What is PCOS?

PCOS = polycystic ovary syndrome or polycystic ovarian syndrome.

  • PCOS is a group of symptoms that affects a woman's ovaries and ovulation
  • Women with PCOS make too many male hormones (androgens) and not enough female hormones
  • PCOS can cause infertility or problems with a woman's period
  • It is very common that women with PCOS also get cysts in the ovaries
  • 10% of all women 15 to 44 years old are thought to have PCOS

What Are PCOS Symptoms?

The most common symptom of PCOS is problems with menstruation.

With PCOS, you might have less periods than normal, more periods than normal, skip periods for months, or stop having periods all together.

It's also common to have very painful periods.

Period pain

About 70% of women with PCOS also get excess hair on the face, the chin or on other parts of the body that a woman would not normally have hair.

This excess hair is called hirsutism.

Women with PCOS might also experience:

  • Difficulty losing weight or weight gain (about 80% of women with PCOS are also overweight)
  • Acne and oily skin on the face, chest and back
  • Hair thinning (alopecia) or baldness
  • Dark, velvety skin patches (Acanthosis Nigricans)
  • Headaches (from the imbalance of hormones)
  • Heavy periods
  • Very painful periods
  • Metabolic syndrome (high blood sugar, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, obesity)
  • Sleep apnea (more common with PCOS)
  • Depression, anxiety, mood changes
  • Low sex drive
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Inflammation in various parts of the body
  • Insulin Resistance, Prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes
  • Endometrial cancer
Weight Gain

About 80% of women with PCOS are also overweight

What Causes PCOS?

Scientists don't know for sure why some women get PCOS, but the scientists have many clues.

Scientists know the driving factor of PCOS is excess male hormones in the woman's body...so scientists think PCOS is likely caused by things that cause male hormones to be high in women.

The main things that make male hormones high in women AND are also common with women who have PCOS are:

  • Insulin Resistance
  • Inflammation
  • Obesity

Women are also more likely to get PCOS if another close relative has it, so there may also be what's referred to as an epigenetic factor.

How Is PCOS Diagnosed?

A doctor will diagnose you with PCOS if you have at least 2 out of 3 of these symptoms:

  • Cysts in the ovaries (you would find this out with a pelvic exam or ultrasound)
  • High levels of male hormones (you would find this out from a blood test)
  • Irregular or skipped periods

It's normal for a woman's period to occur every 21 to 35 days

Are PCOS and Insulin Resistance related?

About 70% of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance.

Scientists don't know which happens first, the insulin resistance or the PCOS...or if both these conditions just happen to be present.

Insulin resistance does cause excess male hormone production, so it's possible that the insulin resistance causes the PCOS.

Insulin resistance is serious because Insulin resistance is the start of going down the path to Type 2 Diabetes. Having Type 2 Diabetes can increase your risk of having a heart attack, stroke and many other terrible complications.

What Is Insulin Resistance

Women with PCOS are at risk for pregnancy complications such as premature birth, miscarriage, high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.


Women with gestational diabetes are at a high risk for getting Type 2 Diabetes.

What Should Women with PCOS and Insulin Resistance Do?

The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to decide to make some lifestyle changes and work on getting healthy again!

Lifestyle changes can reverse or at least lessen most of the symptoms of PCOS, including making it easier to have a baby!

And since lifestyle changes work so well, most doctors will ask women to try lifestyle changes before medication.

Lifestyle changes that work to reverse or lessen PCOS symptoms are:

  • Losing weight (even 5 to 10% helps)
  • Being active every day (taking daily walks is a great way to be active)
  • Eating healthy whole foods and avoiding junk food, especially high calorie fatty foods
  • Avoiding dairy products and excess meat (both these foods are high in natural hormones from animals, which is bad when you have hormone problems)
  • Avoiding gluten
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Eating regular meals (skipping meals increases cortisol, which increases stress and inflammation; skipping meals also causes insulin levels to be unstable)
  • Avoiding hormone disruptors especially BPA (you can learn how here)

BPA (bisphenol A) - AVOID THIS!

BPA is in many plastics and is the 'plastic can coating' in most canned foods.

BPA is obesogenic (a fancy word for 'it makes you fat').

BPA disrupts your normal metabolic activity.

BPA concentrations are HIGHER in women with PCOS than in healthy women.

That means you need to avoid BPA!

Hormonal Birth Control (synthetic hormones):

If you don't make lifestyle changes and your periods are very painful or your menstrual bleeding is heavy, your doctor may suggest you take hormonal birth control to help with your symptoms.

It's important that you know the limitations of this strategy.

First of all, if you're trying to get pregnant, using ANY form of birth control is not a good idea.

Yes, hormonal birth control may relieve PCOS symptoms, but only as long as the birth control is taken.

Hormonal birth control does NOT deal with the root cause of PCOS or reverse it.

Secondly, whether or not you're trying to get pregnant, using any kind of hormonal birth control also comes with risks like:

  • High blood sugar
  • High cholesterol and blood lipid problems
  • Weight gain
  • Stroke
  • Liver tumors
  • Increased risk of breast and cervical cancers

A safe method of birth control that does NOT involve hormones is a COPPER IUD (do NOT get a hormonal IUD)

Copper IUD

Is It Really Possible To Make Lifestyle Changes?

Yes!

Women in our Healthy U Group Diabetes Prevention Program are making lifestyle changes like these everyday!

Every Monday we all get the same very small, very easy mini-assignments that only last one week...that way it's never overwhelming AND we're all in it together and supporting each other.

To learn about becoming a HUG Sister in our Healthy U Groupclick here.

HUG features and benefits

Or to see what kind of healthy and delicious foods the women in our Healthy U Group are eating, click here.

About the Author Joan Pasay

As a Nutrition & Lifestyle Therapist I felt compelled to start Power In The Group. Why? To guide and support women like you with Prediabetes or Insulin Resistance so you can regain and nourish your health...without all the confusion. Together we can enjoy the richest quality of life for ourselves, with our families, and within our society...wanna come along?

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