Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome(PCOS),a condition which affects women of child-bearing age, occurs when the the ovaries manufacture too much testosterone, the so-called male hormone, rendering them unable to produce eggs. PCOS symptoms include acne, obesity and growth of facial hair, though scientists have said women without these symptoms still can have the condition. Irregular periods also are a PCOS trait, though women's health experts caution that not every woman with an irregular period has PCOS. Researchers are now claiming that this gynaecological disorder in women is linked to one of the most rapidly growing illnesses in the world - diabetes.
Dr. Geoffrey Redmond, an endocrinologist specializing in women's health and founder of the Hormone Center in New York City, said that those with PCOS could have a subtle insulin resistance and that healthcare professionals need to recognize anybody who has clear-cut signs and screen them for diabetes. Although PCOS typically is perceived as a gynecological disorder -- because it impairs fertility and can cause irregular periods or no periods at all -- a growing body of evidence suggests PCOS is more of a disorder of the endocrine system with gynecological consequences.
The disorder also appears to be genetic, particularly among women with family histories of diabetes. However, PCOS is not curable and can only be managed with oral contraceptives or other hormone-based medications. Estimates from Northwestern University in Evanston, indicates PCOS patients face a risk of diabetes seven times higher than women who do not have the condition.
Researchers are comparing Metformin - an anti-diabetic drug receiving attention among those studying PCOS - with Clomid, an ovulation inducer that does not treat endocrine disorders, a combination of Metformin and Clomid, or a placebo. The results will be not be available for several months. Dr. Ann Brown, an endocrinologist and director of the Academic Program in Women's Health at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., concluded that PCOS is a difficult condition to study as there is a wide spectrum of conditions that look like PCOS but is not. For instance, research has shown that 40 per cent of obese women with PCOS have impaired glucose tolerance. But, this does not mean that all obese women with PCOS are diabetic. Thin women with PCOS are just as likely to develop diabetes because of their bodies' inability to process hormones properly, which can lead to insulin resistance.