There is an unmistakable link between PCOS and insulin. The hormonal changes that occur with this syndrome aren’t just an imbalance of the reproductive hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. Insulin, the body’s tool for dealing with sugar, is also affected.
Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells in the pancreas in response to levels of glucose in the blood. When there is glucose that is not being used, insulin stimulates the storage of glucose in the liver and muscle cells as glycogen, a more complex carbohydrate molecule. Once the maximum amount of glycogen has been reached, insulin next converts excess glucose into fat. Excess fat, of course, leads to excess weight. This is part of the reason why being overweight and diabetes are linked.
Women with PCOS frequently become resistant to insulin. This occurs when the body has consistently high levels of sugar. The pancreas needs to secrete greater and greater amounts of insulin in order to keep blood sugar regulated. Eventually, the cells no longer respond to insulin and glucose begins to build up in the blood, leading to diabetes.