What is PCOS?
‘Women with PCOS have excess androgen (male hormone) levels and many small follicles (cysts) within the ovaries that do not mature enough to promote monthly ovulation,’ says Diabetic Living endocrinologist Dr Sultan Linjawi. ‘This leads to irregular or absent periods. Other symptoms of PCOS can include acne, excess body hair and even male-pattern hair loss. Excess androgen also promotes weight gain, particularly around the mid-section.’
Why is weight such a problem?
‘This central distribution of weight is associated with insulin resistance, which is a precursor of type 2 diabetes,’ explains Dr Linjawi. ‘As we become more insulin resistant, our bodies produce more insulin, which leads to more weight gain, which leads to more insulin resistance. Talk about a vicious circle!’
How can I reduce my type 2 risk?
Some women benefit from a combined oral contraceptive pill and anti-androgen medication to interrupt the cycle of excess male hormones, weight gain and insulin resistance. Although these meds can help reduce your type 2 risk, you also need to follow a healthy lifestyle, says Dr Linjawi. ‘Eat moderately, exercise and maintain a healthy weight,’ he advises. ‘If weight loss is needed, a reduction of only five to 10 per cent of your total body weight can improve insulin sensitivity. That means losing just 4kg could be all it takes for an 80kg woman to reduce her risk of type 2.’
For more health information and advice, pick up the current issue of Diabetic Living from newsagents, supermarkets and online through Google Play and the App Store!