Gynaecology Consultant Polycystic Ovarian

tel: 01483 456836
email: secretary@sijwpractice.co.uk

POLYCYSTIC OVARIES AND INSULIN RESISTANCE

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

It is a collection of symptoms including the formation of small cysts within the ovary. In a normal ovary a batch of follicles begins to develop each month, one or two of which matures, and releases one or two eggs, whilst the remaining follicles die off. Abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood stream (the hormone responsible for keeping blood sugar levels steady) stops these follicles from dying off.

What are the symptoms?

These vary greatly in type and severity and not all symptoms occur in all women.

Classic symptoms

  • Irregular or absent periods (30% to 50% of women)
  • Problems in getting pregnant (20% to 30%)
  • Weight gain (especially around the abdomen / above waist)
  • Loss of scalp hair
  • Excessive hair growth on face or body
  • Acne

INSULIN RESISTANCE

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. In some circumstances too much insulin is produced due to a defect in the body's regulatory mechanism, and the body's tissues such as muscle and fat become increasingly resistant to the action of the body's insulin; this is known as Insulin Resistance. In order to overcome the poorer response of the tissues to actions such as sugar control, the pancreas has to produce extra insulin to get the desired effect. Insulin Resistance is sometimes referred to as Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X.

What causes Insulin Resistance?

Insulin Resistance is more common in people with a strong family history, including diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, polycystic ovaries, and is worsened by a high carbohydrate snacking type diet. Other factors which worsen it include some medications, stress, pregnancy and advancing age! Insulin levels tend to rise first at puberty which is when hormonal symptoms secondary to this reveal themselves most commonly. The increase in high carbohydrate and snacking-type diet over the last three decades has resulted in an explosion in Insulin Resistance in our population and all the associated problems.