Women who have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in their teens or 20s often have their care focused on symptoms they can easily see – irregular cycles, acne and weight gain.

As a women ages, and progress through her 40s, her needs and health related to her PCOS changes, but the care often gets less-focused on her hormonal condition over time.

Women with PCOS have a significant increase risk of future diabetes because of the relationship between PCOS and insulin resistance. In her 20s, 30s and even early 40s it’s not that big of a deal. Her risk is higher, but she’s not likely to experience any consequences of this increased risk. Risk of diabetes in a woman’s 30s is low anyways, so even having a “significantly increased risk” doesn’t make the risk that bad. It’s certainly not the centre stage compared to a woman’s front row hormonal issues, cycle irregularity and fertility challenges.

As women start to progress into their mid-life, their health needs change, because even though that increased risk isn’t important in a woman’s 30s, it really starts to matter when they are in their 50s.

Women with PCOS are 4 x more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in their lifetime compared to women without, and with diabetes being a significant overall health concern for women, a 4 x increased risk really matters1.

Here is how you can start to understand your own risk of future diabetes, and how you can

  • Did you get diagnosed with gestational diabetes, need Metformin to get pregnant or have some blood sugar challenges in pregnancy?
  • Have you struggled with weight gain (especially abdominally) or notice that you don’t feel well when you eat a high carbohydrate meal?
  • Have you been diagnosed with high cholesterol or high blood pressure but not yet diagnosed with high blood sugar?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it might indicate that you have insulin resistance, or are on a faster path towards diabetes because of PCOS. Here are some next steps you can take to help yourself get better informed of your diabetes risk.

  1. Ask your doctor or Naturopathic Doctor to tests your cholesterol, fasting insulin, glucose and take your blood pressure. These are important markers to see how your metabolism is being affected by your PCOS.
  2. Take stock of your past hormonal health history and cycle history. Even if you’ve never been diagnosed with PCOS, you might actually qualify for a “past diagnosis” of PCOS based on your cycle history. Your doctor or Naturopathic Doctor can review your health history to help you understand your hormones better.
  3. You may benefit from a tailored health plan to avoid future diabetes. The research on how to support women with PCOS in their 40s and 50s is very clear – we can make a difference! An individualized plan that supports your nutrition, nutrients and supplements to reduce your future diabetes risk.

Our goals for our women with PCOS is to develop a lifelong health plan that takes into account her current needs and symptoms such as acne, weight loss and cycle regularity, but also to reduce her future risk of health consequences from her PCOS such as diabetes.

1.         Goodman, N. F. et al. AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF CLINICAL ENDOCRINOLOGISTS, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF ENDOCRINOLOGY, AND ANDROGEN EXCESS AND PCOS SOCIETY DISEASE STATE CLINICAL REVIEW: GUIDE TO THE BEST PRACTICES IN THE EVALUATION AND TREATMENT OF POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME–PART 1. Endocr. Pract. Off. J. Am. Coll. Endocrinol. Am. Assoc. Clin. Endocrinol. 21, 1291–1300 (2015).