Polycystic ovary syndrome is the leading cause of female infertility1
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a genetic, hormone, metabolic and reproductive disorder1 that affects women of reproductive age2. It is the leading cause of female infertility and a known precursor for other serious conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endometrial cancer1. September is PCOS Awareness Month, an ideal opportunity to increase awareness about PCOS1, which affects as many as 10% of the female population3.
A study showed that up to 82% of women diagnosed with PCOS are unaware of their condition4. If left untreated, PCOS may increase the risk of serious long-term complications and possible disease2.
While symptoms of PCOS can vary, a diagnosis of PCOS is made when a woman experiences at least two of the following signs: irregular periods, excessive androgen (elevated levels of male hormones) and polycystic ovaries2, which is when ovaries may be enlarged and contain fluid-filled sacks, which may result in the ovaries not functioning correctly2.
Alarmingly, statistics indicate that 60-80% of women with PCOS suffer from insulin resistance6, a possible precursor to diabetes7
“I would describe the relationship between insulin resistance and PCOS as mutually destructive in that PCOS worsens insulin resistance and vice versa,” says Dr. Carmen James, an integrative medical doctor and holistic health and wellness coach from Durban8.
Dr. James explains that while high insulin levels are a feature of PCOS, they also fuel the disease. “The reason for this is because insulin accumulation reduces ovulation and promotes the production of androgens or male hormones. This results in symptoms such as a male pattern of hair growth, acne and in some cases is associated with difficulties with fertility,” she says8.
In fact, more than 50 percent of women with PCOS will develop diabetes or pre-diabetes before the age of 405. PCOS signs and symptoms are also typically more severe if a woman is obese2.
Up to 95% of women with PCOS have irregular periods and may not ovulate, approximately 60% suffer from hair loss, acne and unwanted hair growth and up to 20% have fertility problems6. PCOS is the most common cause of irregular menstruation that leads to infertility6.
While PCOS was initially considered an infertility disorder or a cosmetic annoyance, it is now recognised as being a serious long-term health concern9.
A study published in the March 2015 issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that women diagnosed with PCOS are twice as likely to be hospitalized for heart disease, diabetes, mental-health conditions, reproductive disorders, and cancer of the uterine lining9.
While there is no cure for PCOS6, medical treatments are available which may address individual symptoms of the condition3. Weight loss in obese patients with PCOS also has a myriad of benefits3.
In younger women who do not want to fall pregnant, the use of oral contraceptives can regulate the menstrual cycle, as well as decrease the production of adrenal androgens, or male hormones6. For a woman showing signs of insulin resistance, diabetes medications might be prescribed3. For women with fertility issues, doctors may prescribe medications to promote ovulation3.
Positive news for the many women suffering from this condition is that clinical studies have shown that a unique combination of ingredients, now available in supplement form, can help correct endocrine and metabolic imbalances linked to insulin resistance and associated reproductive health issues in women with PCOS10,11,12,13.
In fact, in various studies on certain patient profiles, this combination of Alpha Lipoic Acid, Myo-Inositol and Folic Acid have been proven to reduce insulin resistance by 45.5%11, reduce obesity by 8.4%13 and increase successful pregnancies by 44%10 in patients undergoing IVF.
Now available locally in the vitamin aisle at leading pharmacies without a prescription, one sachet of Sinopol® contains 400mg Alpha Lipoic Acid, 1000mg Myo-Inositol and 200µg Folic Acid 14.
If you have concerns about your menstrual periods, if you are experiencing reproductive health issues or if you have signs of excess unwanted hair, acne and male-pattern baldness, you need to go and see your doctor2. For more information about supplementation or any other questions, speak to your doctor or pharmacist or go to www.sinopol.co.za for more information.
DISCLAIMER: This editorial has been commissioned and brought to you by iNova Pharmaceuticals.
Content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.
Further information is available on request from iNova Pharmaceuticals. Name and business address: iNova Pharmaceuticals (Pty) Ltd. Co. Reg. No. 1952/001640/07. 15E Riley Road, Bedfordview. Tel. No. 011 087 0000. www.inovapharma.co.za. IN3956/20
- PCOS Awareness Month 2020. National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association(2020) at https://pcoschallenge.org/pcos-awareness-month (website accessed on 18 August 2020)
- Mayo Clinic. Polycystic ovary syndrome (2017) at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353443 (Website accessed on3 July 2019)
- Ndefo, UA. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. P&T June 2013 38 No. 6
- Sharif, E. et al. The frequency of polycystic ovary syndrome in young reproductive females in Qatar. International Journal of Women’s Health 2017:9 1–10
- Anovulatory Cycle: When You Don’t Release an Oocyte (2018) at https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/anovulatory-cycle (Website accessed on3 July 2019)
- Barthelmess EK, Naz RK. Polycystic ovary syndrome: current status and future perspective. Front Biosci (Elite Ed). 2014 Jan 1;6:104-19
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes (2018) at https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance(website accessed on 16 October 2019)
- Q&A with Dr Carmen James. 10 October 2019 (unpaid)
- The Atlantic. When Missed Periods are a Metabolic Problem (2015) at https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/396116/ (website accessed on 20 August 2020)
- Rago R, Marcucci I, Leto G, et al. Effect of myo-inositol and alpha-lipoic acid on oocyte quality in polycystic ovary syndrome non-obese women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a pilot study. J Biol Regulators Homeostatic Agents 2015;29(4):1-11.
- Genazzani AD, Shefer K, Della Casa D, et al. Modulatory effects of alpha‑lipoic acid (ALA) administration on insulin sensitivity in obese PCOS patients. J Endocrinol Invest 2018;41:583–590.
- Carbonelli MG, Di Renzo L, Bigioni M, et al. α-Lipoic Acid Supplementation: A Tool for Obesity Therapy? Curr Pharmaceut Design 2010;16:840-846.
- De Cicco S, Immediata V, Romualdi D, et al. Myoinositol combined with alpha-lipoic acid may improve the clinical and endocrine features of polycystic ovary syndrome through an insulin-independent action. Gynecol Endocrinol 2017;33(9):698–701.
- Sinopol® approved package insert, February 2019.