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Insulin Resistance in PCOS: Signs, Symptoms & What it is?

Insulin resistance in PCOS is very common among women facing the condition. Read more to know everything about insulin resistance in PCOS.

5 min read
Insulin Resistance in PCOS: Signs, Symptoms  & What it is?

Well, irregular menstrual cycles are not the only thing women with PCOS have to deal with. PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a medical condition that affects the formation of hormones and insulin production in the body.

PCOS not only affects the ovulation process and ovaries, but it also disturbs the metabolic and endocrine system, which controls the hormones in the body. It can hamper the production of hormones like progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and androgen.

Further, PCOS causes insulin resistance. Insulin resistance in PCOS can affect the patient adversely. In this condition, the body becomes resistant to the insulin produced in the body, as a result of which the pancreas has to produce an excess amount of insulin for the same function.

What is Insulin Resistance in PCOS?

The body produces a hormone called insulin to digest the sugar in the body, convert it into glucose, and help it reach the blood cells in the form of energy. When the cells in the body do not use insulin to convert the glucose into energy, that is called insulin resistance. In such a scenario, the sugar levels spike up. To make up for it, the pancreas produces more insulin.

When insulin resistance starts developing in the body due to PCOS; more amount of insulin is required to digest the same amount of sugar. The body cells lose their efficiency to utilize the insulin properly.

Major Cause of Insulin Resistance

The real cause behind how insulin resistance occurs in PCOS is still under research. However, it has been found that insulin resistance developed due to PCOS is the key cause behind raised insulin in the body.

Increased insulin may further push the ovaries to produce more androgen hormones, which may result in symptoms like abdominal fat, mood swings, inflammation and facial hair.

Furthermore, with polycystic ovary syndrome insulin resistance, the ability of the cells to use insulin reduces, leading to high sugar content in the blood and type two diabetes.

Signs  of  Insulin  Resistance  PCOS

The  signs  of  insulin  resistance  among  65  to  70  per  cent of  women  suffering  from  PCOS  are  evident  in  the  form  of  heavy  bleeding,  painful  menstruation  and  infertility.  The  high  levels  of  insulin  worsen  these  symptoms  due  to  an  increase  in  the  production  of  testosterone.  Some  more  insulin  resistance  PCOS  symptoms  include  increased  facial  hair  growth  and  weight  gain  in  the  waist  areas.  Dark  skin  patches  around  the  waist,  neck,  armpits  and  groin  region  are  common  symptoms  of  PCOS.  

Apart  from  this,  other  signs  of  insulin  resistance  PCOS,  i.e.  high  insulin  levels,  lead  to  chronic  conditions  such  as  diabetes,  hypertension,  obesity  and  heart  conditions.  Also,  the  condition  may  lead  to  more  cravings  for  carbs  and  sweets.  

PCOS  Insulin  Resistance  Symptoms

Insulin  resistance symptoms  vary  from  woman  to  woman.  These  symptoms  are  seldom  observed  in  minor  proportions.  Some  of  these  symptoms  include  -  

  • Craving  for  carbs,  sweet  and  salty  foods.
  • Fatigue
  • Skin  darkening  near  the  groin,  hind  side  of  neck  and  armpit  areas.
  • Frequent  urge  for  urination.
  • Increased  hunger  and  thirst.
  • Tingling  sensation  in  hands  and  feet.  

Consult  your  doctor  for  further  procedures  when  you  observe  the  PCOS  insulin  resistance  symptoms.  

PCOS  Insulin  Resistance  Diet

In  order  to  design  a  diet  for  PCOS insulin  resistance  diet,  it  becomes  important  to  understand  the  underlying  root  cause  of  the  condition.  The  diet  for  every  person  varies  based  on  their  lifestyle.  That  is  why  having  a  good  amount  of  knowledge  regarding  the  various  nutrients  we  intake  is  essential.  

Knowing  about  heart-healthy  fats,  proteins,  and  the  right  quantity  and  quality  of  carbohydrates  is  crucial  to  determine  a  diet  for  patients  with  PCOS  insulin  resistance.  Pairing  these  three  nutrients  in  the  correct  proportion  is  the  key  to  a  perfect  diet.  Some  key  points  to  remember  when  designing  a  diet  for  women  suffering  from  signs  of  PCOS  insulin  resistance  are  listed  below.  

  • Choose  quality  carbs  such  as  whole  grains,  which  help  boost  the  dietary  fibre  amounts,  thereby  helping  in  glucose  regulation.
  • Consume  lower  amounts  of  carbohydrates  to  deal  with  the  condition  of  insulin  resistance.  

Include  the  following  items  in  your  meal  to  reduce  the  glucose  load  on  your  body  against  the  condition  of  PCOS  insulin  resistance.  

  • ¼  proportion  with  whole  grains  such  as  whole  grain  pasta,  quinoa,  brown  rice,  or  multigrain  bread.
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Bit  of  heart-healthy  fats  such  as  Nut  or  Olive  oils
  • Lean  proteins  

Following  this  diet  can  help  women  suffering  from  the  condition  of  PCOS  insulin  resistance  by  managing  the  symptoms.

Does Everyone with PCOS Have Insulin Resistance?

Every patient suffering from PCOS may not have an insulin resistance problem. If you observe a few symptoms of insulin resistance PCOS together with bad cramps, you should visit a gynecologist.

Blood Test for PCOS Insulin Resistance

A few tests can help determine if a PCOS patient has insulin resistance. The following tests can be useful in diagnosing insulin resistance PCOS symptoms.

  • Fasting plasma glucose test
  • Oral glucose tolerance test
  • Hemoglobin A1c test
  • 2-hour insulin glucose test
  • HOMA-IR index

How Can You Reduce Insulin Resistance in PCOS?

There are mainly two treatments available for insulin resistance PCOS treatment;

  • Lifestyle change- It includes adopting an active lifestyle, cutting down on junk food, trans-fat products and sugar, and incorporating high fibre and protein diet.
  • Oral Contraceptives- There is no specific medicine for PCOS and insulin resistance. Many patients take the course of these hormonal tablets to take care of the symptoms.

However, you must consult your doctor before taking any medication.

Best Medication for Insulin Resistance in PCOS

Diabetic Medicine- Doctors may also recommend type 2 diabetes medicine, like Metformin, to treat high insulin and PCOS, as it enables the cells to use insulin in a better way.


Insulin resistance in PCOS is a common issue, which can affect the patients both physically and emotionally. An insulin test for PCOS is the best way to diagnose it.

Many women suffer from this problem, but the majority of them ignore the symptoms till they are severe.

You may be suffering from insulin resistance and polycystic ovary syndrome and you may not even know it. Early detection and taking proper PCOS and insulin resistance treatment can help you recover from this condition at the earliest.


Can Fasting Reverse Insulin Resistance?

Fasting helps in the diabetes reversal process. It helps in the reduction of the blood sugar level and promotes weight loss. However, fasting alone cannot prevent raised insulin from PCOS.

Is Keto Good for Insulin Resistance?

Keto diet may improve insulin sensitivity in people suffering from PCOS and insulin resistance. It reduces the calorie intake and blood sugar of the patients. Keto is regarded as the best diet for PCOS insulin resistance. However, there is no proof that this diet is sustainable.

Can I Eat Oatmeal if I Have Insulin Resistance?

Oatmeal has a large number of health benefits. It is a highly rated food that forms a part of PCOS insulin resistance diet. The high fibre content and low in calories promotes weight loss and reduces sugar level in blood.

Are Eggs Good for Insulin Resistance?

Eggs have a low amount of carbohydrates and are high in protein. It is a good diet for women suffering from high insulin and PCOS. However, eggs have a higher amount of cholesterol. So, it’s better to consult your physician before consuming it.


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