Taking the Pill Can Reduce the Risk of Diabetes in Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome affects one in ten women of childbearing age. The affected women have an increased risk of developing type II diabetes. Fortunatly taking the pill can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by 25% according to a new study.



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Polycystic ovarian syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects only women of childbearing age, from adolescence to menopause. It is the leading cause of infertility in women. It is a hormonal disorder. In those affected, an excess of testosterone is produced, which causes the following symptoms:

  • Irregular or no menstruation, due to very little or no ovulation
  • Hair growth on the face, chest, back, and  buttocks
  • Acne and/or oily skin
  • Hair loss
  • Excess weight

NB: The name polycystic ovarian syndrome is misleading! It is not cysts on the ovaries, but the undeveloped follicles, initially mistaken for cysts that are the cause of the condition. This disease is also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome, ovarian dystrophy, or polycystic ovarian disease.

Read Also: Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) and Gonadotropins Potential Treatments to Restore Fertility in Perimenopausal Women

Symptoms vary greatly from one woman to another; the disease is more or less disabling, depending on the patient. In addition, excess weight predisposes to insulin resistance: PCOS is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Although there is no cure for PCOS, a new study published in October 2021 in the journal Diabetes Care suggests that taking an oral contraceptive in women with PCOS reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The pill to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes

A retrospective study was conducted in the United Kingdom. It included 64,051 women with PCOS and 123,545 women without PCOS (control group). At the first phase of the study, the authors analyzed the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Women with PCOS were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as women without PCOS. Also, women with PCOS and hyperlipidemia were even more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

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In a second phase, the authors wanted to study the effect of using an oral contraceptive in a group of 4,814 women with PCOS. It was found that taking an oral contraceptive reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 25%.

The circumstances under which PCOS is discovered are very often reproductive difficulties. If PCOS is the sole cause of the couple’s infertility, ovulation induction is suggested. This involves initially taking a drug, clomiphene citrate. Injectable gonadotropins can be used as a second-line treatment. Multiple pregnancies are common as a result of the treatment and the parents should be aware of this.

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Another technique is to drill small holes in the surface layer of the ovaries to restore normal ovulation and thus natural pregnancy. This technique is called “drilling” of the ovaries. In this case, the risk of multiple pregnancies is no greater than in a “natural” pregnancy. Finally, as a last resort, IVF can be proposed.

In the situation when pregnancy is still sought, it is impossible to prescribe the pill to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, the pill could be suggested in the future.


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Combined Oral Contraceptives, and the Risk of Dysglycemia: A Population-Based Cohort Study With a Nested Pharmacoepidemiological Case-Control Study

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