Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the leading lifestyle diseases in women today. It is often diagnosed during a girl’s teenage years, and is often on of the primary cause of infertility among women. What’s more, doctors at Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad warn that PCOS is one of the leading causes of diabetes during pregnancy, also known as gestational diabetes. It can affect the health of both mother and the child, and make the mother highly susceptible to Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Primary Causes Of Gestational Diabetes
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy
- Lifestyle factors, including poor dietary habits and weight gain
- Insulin Resistance
All four causes of gestational diabetes are also the underlying causes for PCOS, and the two are closely linked.
“Women who have PCOS were either overweight or obese by the time they reached their puberty. This makes them substantially insulin-resistant; their bodies can make insulin but can’t use it effectively, increasing their risk for type 2 diabetes. More than half of women with PCOS develop type 2 diabetes by age 40. They are more likely to develop gestational diabetes which puts the pregnancy and baby at risk and can lead to type 2 diabetes later in life, for both mother and child. Since the number of PCOS cases in teenage has increased over the past 10 years, there is an increase in pregnancies where the mother is diabetic–out of the pregnancies we deliver here, about 15 per cent are diabetic and have a history of PCOS in their teens,” says Dr Ranjana Becon, Consultant Gynecologist and Obstetrics, Columbia Asia Hospital, Ghaziabad.
Early Signs & Symptoms Of PCOS
Polycystic ovarian syndrome begins soon after the first menstrual period, as young as age 11 or 12 but can also develop in the 20s or 30s. The major symptoms include:
- Irregular or missed periods caused from lack of ovulation
- Higher than normal levels of male hormones that may result in excess hair on the face and body
- Painful acne
- Thinning scalp hair
- Multiple small cysts on the ovaries, detected by and ultrasound exam
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus & PCOS
“Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is the most commonly described pregnancy complication in women with PCOS. It can also cause other serious health problems in women such as high blood pressure, heart disease, increase in bad (LDL) cholesterol, and sleep apnea, among other things. Lifestyle has been identified as the single-most effective causing factor for PCOS in women across ages, but teenagers today are more vulnerable as they lead a life almost without any activity and eat a lot of refined fat and carbohydrates. As a result, they gain weight quickly and substantially, which further affects their health. Women whose mother or sister have PCOS or type 2 diabetes are more likely to develop PCOS. Insulin resistance also runs in families and losing weight will help no matter the reason behind the insulin resistance,” says Dr Becon.
Detecting Gestational Diabetes
Harmful for the baby and the mother, it is important to get tested for gestational diabetes. A diabetic pregnancy can usually be detected between the 24th and 48th week of pregnancy. The tests are fairly straight-forward and non-invasive:
- Blood test
- Random blood sugar test
- Fasting Blood sugar test