The Diabetes and PCOS Connection

diabetes and pcosThe Diabetes PCOS link is disturbing at best. But, what is PCOS and how does it lead to diabetes? What are the PCOS causes? What are the best books on PCOS? And, why can’t your doctor diagnose it? Let’s take a look at this relatively unknown, but powerful condition.

PCOS stands for PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome. To understand what PCOS is, we need to understand how the normal ovulation cycle works. During ovulation, follicles grow on the ovaries.

Eggs develop within the follicles, with one egg dropping into the fallopian tubes for fertilization (or not, whatever the case may be). The remaining follicles and eggs usually degenerate and the process repeats itself the next month.

Polycystic ovaries, on the other hand, are larger than normal and the follicles appear in bunches. Often these cysts do not cause any problems. However, PCOS occurs if these cysts begin to cause hormonal imbalances.


Doctors aren’t entirely clear on the PCOS causes. The best understanding is that one or several of the following may be the culprit:

  • Genetic Disposition
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Hyper Insulinism
  • Environmental Factors (exposure to chemicals and pollution)
  • Chronic Inflammation

Who gets PCOS

It is estimated that 4-10 percent of women have PCOS. This number however, may go as high as 30 percent. Why the high number? Well, the symptoms, as detailed below, are often confusing to doctors.

In other words, the condition is often not recognized as PCOS. Instead, individual symptoms are treated in isolation. Alternatively, the condition results in another disease, such as diabetes, and then that condition is treated.


diabetes and pcosThe PCOS symptoms are quiet varied, thus part of the problem in adequate diagnosis. Here are some of the most common symptoms (no particular order):

  • Ovarian Cysts
  • Acne
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Elevated Glucose
  • Excessive Hair (face and body)
  • Obesity
  • Inability to Lose Weight
  • Irregular or Non-Existent Menses
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Hormonal Imbalances

As you can see from the above PCOS symptoms, they are fairly generic, thus the problem with adequate diagnosis.

PCOS and Insulin or the Diabetes PCOS Link

Ten percent of PCOS sufferers have diabetes. However, 40 percent have insulin resistance issues, and this number may be as high as 80 percent. Again, the condition is little understood and diagnosed, so the numbers are a bit unclear.

Regardless, what is clear is that PCOS usually causes insulin resistance. Generically, you will recall that insulin resistance is when the cells have difficulty using insulin to process the blood sugar or glucose from the body into the energy they need to run properly.

To compensate for this difficulty, the beta cells in the pancreas start working overtime to produce more insulin to compensate for the resistance at the cellular level. The result is that the bets cells effectively “burn out” and this leads to diabetes. The body essentially cannot process the glucose properly.

There are a number of different causes of the insulin resistance, particularly if the woman is obese or overweight. However, the result is the same. The beta cells stop producing enough insulin.

Another PCOS diabetes link is that PCOs often causes obesity. Moreover, the condition makes it very difficult, if not impossible to effectively lose weight with PCOS. Obesity is another leading cause or at least major contributor to diabetes.


The treatment or cure for PCOS is often a combination of birth control pills and other medications. However, this treatment is often unsuccessful. Many sufferers swear by more natural methods. Laura Henning, a longtime PCOS sufferer, has detailed these Natural Cures and formulated an easy to follow resource worth checking out. This is one of the best books on PCOS describing natural remedies. FYI – It is an ebook, so you can download it immediately.

By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed April 2012.