PCOS and Type 2 Diabetes

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common gynecologic and endocrine condition. Unlike other diseases that are easier to define, PCOS describes a constellation of symptoms that often include irregular periods and acne or excessive hair growth (or both). These symptoms are caused in part by hormonal imbalances and higher than normal levels of the hormone testosterone.


Women with PCOS who don’t ovulate regularly have an increased incidence of infertility since an egg must get released in order to be fertilized. PCOS also increases a woman’s risk of developing ‘metabolic syndrome,’ which includes high blood pressure, high cholesterol and prediabetes or diabetes. Women with PCOS have a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes, which can become a lifelong condition.


Thankfully, women with PCOS and evidence of impaired glucose tolerance (prediabetes) can reduce their risk of developing full-blown diabetes through diet and exercise. Although medications are available if necessary, weight loss through lifestyle modification is the most effective way to avoid progression to type 2 diabetes.


For women with PCOS who don’t ovulate, medications such as Clomid or Letrozole can be used to induce ovulation and hopefully assist conception. However, it is important to maximize your health prior to conceiving since that will give you the best chance of having a healthy and successful pregnancy.

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