What Is The Connection Between Insulin Resistance And PCOS?

What Is The Connection Between Insulin Resistance And PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal disorder affecting millions of women worldwide. Among its myriad challenges, insulin resistance stands out as a critical and often under-discussed aspect. This connection not only deepens our understanding of PCOS but also opens new avenues for management and treatment. In this blog, we delve into the intricate relationship between insulin resistance and PCOS, exploring how they interact, the impact on women’s health, and the promising strategies for managing these conditions together.

What Is Insulin Resistance?

What Is Insulin Resistance?Insulin resistance is a physiological condition where the body’s cells become less responsive to the hormone insulin, a key regulator of blood glucose levels. Insulin, produced by the pancreas, facilitates the entry of glucose into cells where it’s used for energy. In insulin resistance, this process becomes inefficient. The cells, especially in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue, do not respond effectively to insulin, leading to a reduced absorption of glucose. As a result, the body requires higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells.

Over time, insulin resistance can lead to an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream, a condition known as hyperglycemia, when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to overcome the resistance. Although initially there may be no symptoms, chronic insulin resistance can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and other metabolic disorders. Understanding and addressing insulin resistance is crucial for preventing its progression to more serious health conditions.

What Is The Connection Between Insulin Resistance And PCOS?

The connection between insulin resistance and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) involves several key aspects:

  • Hormonal Imbalances

PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalances, including elevated levels of androgens (male hormones). Insulin resistance can exacerbate these hormonal imbalances. High insulin levels can increase androgen production, worsening PCOS symptoms like irregular periods, acne, and hair growth.

  • Ovulatory Dysfunction

Insulin resistance can contribute to ovulatory problems in women with PCOS. High levels of insulin can interfere with the normal ovulation process, leading to irregular menstrual cycles or absence of menstruation (amenorrhea).

  • Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to their predisposition to insulin resistance. Persistent high levels of insulin and blood sugar can lead to the development of diabetes over time.

  • Impact on Fertility

Insulin resistance can affect fertility in women with PCOS by disrupting the hormonal balance necessary for ovulation. This can make conception more difficult and is often a major concern for women with PCOS wanting to become pregnant.

  • Metabolic Syndrome

PCOS and insulin resistance together increase the risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. This raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

  • Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Insulin resistance in PCOS is also associated with increased levels of inflammation and oxidative stress. It can contribute to the overall severity of PCOS symptoms and long-term health risks.

Understanding and managing insulin resistance is crucial in the treatment and management of PCOS, highlighting the importance of a holistic approach to care in affected individuals.

What Are The Symptoms Of Insulin Resistance PCOS?

What Are The Symptoms Of Insulin Resistance PCOS?The symptoms of insulin resistance in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can be varied and multifaceted. They often include a combination of signs related to both insulin resistance and PCOS:

  • Weight Gain or Difficulty Losing Weight: Insulin resistance often leads to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen. Women with PCOS may find it challenging to lose weight despite diet and exercise efforts.
  • Irregular Menstrual Cycles: Disruptions in normal ovulation due to hormonal imbalances can lead to irregular or missed periods, a common symptom in PCOS.
  • Excessive Hair Growth (Hirsutism): Increased levels of androgens can cause excessive hair growth on the face, chest, and back.
  • Acne or Oily Skin: Hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS and insulin resistance can lead to acne or unusually oily skin.
  • Scalp Hair Thinning: Insulin resistance and the resultant hormonal changes can cause thinning hair on the scalp, similar to male pattern baldness.
  • Darkening of Skin (Acanthosis Nigricans): Insulin resistance can lead to dark, velvety patches of skin, particularly in body creases like the neck, groin, and underarms.
  • Fatigue: High insulin levels and fluctuating blood sugar can lead to feelings of fatigue or lack of energy.
  • High Blood Sugar Levels: While not always symptomatic, insulin resistance can lead to elevated blood sugar levels.
  • Increased Hunger or Thirst: Changes in blood sugar levels can cause increased hunger or an unusual level of thirst.
  • Skin Tags: Small skin growths, often in areas where skin rubs against skin, can be more common in insulin resistance.
  • Infertility: Insulin resistance can affect ovulation and fertility, making it more challenging to conceive.

It’s important to note that not all women with PCOS and insulin resistance will experience all these symptoms, and the severity can vary greatly. Early diagnosis and management are crucial for improving health outcomes and managing the long-term risks associated with both PCOS and insulin resistance.

How Do You Fix Insulin Resistance PCOS?

How Do You Fix Insulin Resistance PCOS?Managing insulin resistance PCOS in women through natural means involves a multifaceted approach focusing on lifestyle changes and dietary adjustments. Here are some effective strategies:

Dietary Modifications

  • Low-Glycemic Diet: Choose foods that have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Foods like whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta), legumes, and most fruits and vegetables fall into this category. Avoid high-GI foods like white bread, pastries, and sugary snacks.
  • Balanced Meals: Each meal should include a good mix of macronutrients. Healthy fats (avocado, olive oil), lean proteins (chicken, fish, tofu), and high-fiber carbohydrates work together to slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes.
  • Reduce Sugar and Refined Carbs: Cutting back on sugary treats, sodas, and refined carbohydrates like white rice and pasta helps prevent rapid increases in blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • Increase Fiber Intake: Fiber slows carbohydrate digestion and sugar absorption. Incorporate more vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds into your diet.

Regular Physical Activity

  • Cardiovascular Exercises: Regular aerobic activities improve insulin sensitivity as muscles use more glucose for energy during and after exercise. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
  • Strength Training: Building muscle mass helps the body use insulin more efficiently. Engage in strength training exercises like weight lifting, resistance band workouts, or body-weight exercises (like squats and push-ups) at least two days a week.

Weight Management

  • Healthy Weight Loss: Implementing a balanced diet and regular exercise can lead to gradual, sustainable weight loss. This significantly impacts insulin sensitivity and PCOS symptoms.
  • Consistent Weight Management: Avoid extreme diets and focus on a consistent, balanced approach to eating and physical activity to maintain a healthy weight over the long term.

Stress Reduction

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Practices such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help manage stress, which is crucial as stress can exacerbate both insulin resistance and PCOS symptoms.
  • Adequate Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Poor sleep can affect hormones that regulate appetite, stress, and glucose metabolism, worsening insulin resistance.

Supplements and Natural Remedies

  • Inositol: This vitamin-like substance, particularly in the form of myo-inositol or D-chiro-inositol, can improve insulin sensitivity and ovulation in women with PCOS.
  • Cinnamon: Some research indicates that cinnamon might help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.
    Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These healthy fats, found in fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as well as in flaxseeds and walnuts, can reduce inflammation and improve insulin resistance.

Avoiding Endocrine Disruptors

  • Choose Natural Products: Select personal care and household products that are free from chemicals like BPA, phthalates, and parabens. This can interfere with hormone function.

Incorporating these strategies into daily life can help manage insulin resistance in PCOS. It’s important to remember that these are complementary approaches and should be part of a comprehensive plan, which may also include medical treatment as advised by a healthcare provider.


In conclusion, managing insulin resistance PCOS is a journey that involves a holistic approach. By making mindful choices in our diet, engaging in regular physical activity, focusing on maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, considering natural supplements, and avoiding harmful chemicals, we can significantly improve our health and well-being. These lifestyle changes not only help in managing insulin resistance and PCOS symptoms but also enhance overall quality of life.

Remember, every small step counts, and with persistence and the right guidance, achieving a healthier, more balanced life is possible. If you are facing PCOS-related issues, PCOS treatment at HerMantra can help. Book your free trial online pcos treatment session now.