Diabetes: High risk of developing the disease in women with PCOS
Around 15 percent of women of childbearing age in Germany suffer from a polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). According to experts, the most common hormonal disorder in women increases the risk of developing diabetes. The risk of developing fatty liver is also significantly higher for those affected.
Stubborn obesity, increased body hair, thinning scalp hair, unfulfilled desire to have children and acne – behind this can be a polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), explains the German Diabetes Society (DDG) in a current press release. What many affected women are not aware of: The complex disruption of the hormonal control loop also increases their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by two to nine times. In addition, patients with PCOS are four times more likely to develop fatty liver.
About 15 percent of women are affected
As explained on Austria’s public health portal “Gesundheit.gv.at”, PCO syndrome (polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder in women.
In Germany, around 15 percent of women of childbearing age suffer from PCOS. According to the DDG, among other things, the balance of sex hormones is disturbed. An excess of male hormones can lead to a masculinization of the female silhouette. In addition, according to the male distribution pattern, scalp hair falls out and grows in other places.
Too much testosterone also interferes with the development of the follicles. This manifests itself as a menstrual cycle disorder and infertility. In the ultrasound examination of the ovaries, in more than 70 percent of the cases a typical string of pearls is visible in the follicles.
“These many small cysts gave the disease its name,” explains private lecturer Dr. med. Susanne Reger-Tan, Head of the Diabetes Center Diabetologikum DDG at the Clinic for Endocrinology, Diabetology and Metabolism at the University Clinic Essen.
Hard to break vicious circle
However, the term “PCOS” does not reveal the close connection with type 2 diabetes at first glance. Because the metabolism is also affected: many patients are very overweight, which, despite all the efforts, simply does not want to give way. This is due to an also occurring insulin resistance.
“The reduced sensitivity of the body’s cells to react to insulin leads to an excess of insulin in the blood,” says Reger-Tan. This in turn stimulates further weight gain and increases the excess of male hormones.
This begins a vicious circle that is difficult to break of insulin resistance, weight gain, even more male hormones and further dulling of the body’s cells against insulin.
As a result, there is a risk of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes at a young age.
Individual approach regarding the choice of therapy
As the DDG writes, the variety of symptoms in PCOS, which can also be present in different forms – requires an individual approach with regard to the choice of therapy:
“The optimal treatment strategy is based on the symptoms and the individual suffering of the woman concerned. In any case, it should also include concepts for avoiding long-term complications such as diabetes, ”explains Reger-Tan.
This includes the consistent clarification, monitoring and, if necessary, therapy of possible metabolic diseases, says the endocrinologist, diabetologist and nutritionist. Reger-Tan regrets that there is still no approved pharmacotherapy for the treatment of PCOS.
“Every practitioner and patient should know about the high risk of diabetes – this is the only way we can control the possible consequences of PCOS,” says Professor Dr. med. Matthias M. Weber, media spokesman for the German Society for Endocrinology (DGE). (ad)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
- German Diabetes Society: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is often associated with type 2 diabetes, (accessed: June 8, 2021), German Diabetes Society
- Public health portal in Austria: www.gesundheit.gv.at: Polycystic Ovar Syndrome (PCOS), (accessed: June 8, 2021), Gesundheit.gv.at
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.