PCOS: Insulin Resistance Of The Ovaries
ByKatarina Meister, ND •July 1, 2022
PCOS has a unique footprint for each individual that suffers from this hormone imbalance.
Symptoms can range from impaired fertility, lack of menstruation, irregular menstruation,
masculine pattern hair growth or loss, anger/irritation/mood swings, and cystic acne.
Additionally, women can struggle with obesity, weight loss resistance, and type II diabetes. The
cause of PCOS is not completely clear; however, insulin resistance may be the trigger.
Insulin is one of your metabolic hormones secreted by your pancreas after eating. Insulin helps
to move glucose into the cell and decrease your blood sugar. The typical standard American
diet rich in refined carbohydrates increases the risk of insulin spikes and thus PCOS. These
spikes cause your blood sugar to be more like a roller-coaster vs a steady ride. Eventually, your
cells become resistance to insulin, causing insulin resistance.
High insulin levels suppress Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) and increases testosterone
production in the ovaries. High levels of testosterone can then lead to high estrogen levels due
to peripheral tissues converting testosterone into estrogen via aromatase. This triad (high
insulin, high testosterone, and high estrogen) is what characterizes PCOS. These hormone
imbalances contribute to the symptoms of weight loss resistance, acne, irregular periods, and
male pattern hair growth/loss.
High estrogen levels impair ovulation and maturation of follicles, which eventually leads to a
low progesterone level. In PCOS there is less progesterone produced overall since there is no
ovulation and a corpus luteum is not created. This is where you might see absent menstrual cycles,
irregular menstrual cycles, and/or fertility issues.
As you have seen so far, so many of your hormones can affect one another. That is why getting
an individualized assessment on your hormones for PCOS can help get to the root cause of your
symptoms. Spironolactone, a prescription medication commonly prescribed in cases of PCOS,
certainly can help to manage PCOS symptoms of high testosterone, but is not an ideal long-
term solution, nor is it addressing why testosterone is high in the first place. There are plenty of
effective natural solutions to decrease testosterone that don’t require a prescription, such as
saw palmetto, peony, licorice, and green tea extract.
To adequately address PCOS, we must address not only the underlying hormonal issues but also
the underlying metabolic dysfunction. Remember, PCOS is insulin resistance of the ovaries. This
is where optimizing diet and lifestyle is essential.
A lower-carb diet is a must for getting your hormones back into balance in cases of PCOS. We
often recommend avoiding the following to achieve blood sugar balance:
- White potatoes
Rather than just focusing on what you can’t have, we recommend focusing on all the foods you can have:
- Free-range, grass-fed organic meat, fish, poultry
- Organic Eggs
- Nuts and seeds
- Plenty of good fats- avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, olive oil
- Dairy if tolerated
Food as Medicine is our passion here at Lakeside, and we try to get patients excited about this
healthy diet that can truly be life-changing. Pregnancy, regularity of periods, radiant skin, and a
healthy weight are all benefits that are realistic when you commit to diet and lifestyle
Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health practitioners with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.