PCOS Insulin resistance

Insulin Resistance and PCOS: Your Complete Guide

Insulin resistance and PCOS often go hand in hand, causing a host of problems throughout your body. If you struggle to lose weight, take a nap after your meals, or are constantly hungry, you may have become insulin-resistant. But not to worry! With an early diagnosis and positive lifestyle changes, you can get your insulin levels in check.

What is insulin, and what does it do?

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps us balance blood sugar. It allows our cells to absorb glucose to be used for energy. When we eat, our blood sugar rises, signalling our bodies to release insulin. When everything is working as it should, blood sugar molecules move into the cells, and levels in the bloodstream decrease, which signals insulin to drop as well.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance happens when our cells stop responding well to insulin and need MORE than before to absorb the blood sugar molecules. Your pancreas continues to make more and more insulin to help glucose enter your cells, and your body switches to fat-storing mode. Any extra calories become fat cells, which are stored in your body. Left untreated, insulin resistance can evolve into Type 2 Diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

While there is no one test to measure insulin resistance, there are many markers and blood tests your naturopathic doctor can test for. Signs of insulin resistance include:

  • A high waistline measurement
  • Skin tags or patches of dark skin
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue and low energy levels
  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • High fasting glucose levels
  • Weak immune system with frequent sickness
  • High cholesterol levels
  • A feeling of constant hunger
  • Feeling tired after eating
  • Stubborn weight gain & trouble losing the extra pounds

Insulin Resistance and PCOS

Women with PCOS are often insulin resistant, and the more resistant they become, the worse PCOS symptoms get. Insulin resistance is both a symptom of PCOS and an underlying driver. Chronically high insulin impairs ovulation and signals the ovaries to produce more testosterone. This hormone imbalance leads to irregular periods, acne, unwanted facial hair, and stubborn weight gain. PCOS and insulin resistance often go hand in hand, leading to a continuous cycle of unwanted symptoms.

Insulin Resistance if Left Untreated

If unmanaged, insulin resistance can worsen your PCOS symptoms. It can also lead to full-blown type 2 diabetes, which carries a higher risk of stroke, heart disease, nerve damage, kidney problems, and a host of other issues. Being proactive and controlling your blood sugar levels are the best ways to lower your chance of complications.  Furthermore, another big consequence of insulin resistance is having fertility issues.

What’s the Fix?

The first step is to get a proper diagnosis. Speak with your healthcare professional if you suspect you have become insulin-resistant. Addressing the issue early is the best way to avoid further health complications. As a result, your doctor can then give you recommendations that are specific to you. The first line of defence is generally to eat whole foods, consume less sugar and increase your exercise levels. Your doctor may also recommend glucose-lowering medication along with these lifestyle changes.

If you feel you might be insulin resistant, reach out to me here to book an appointment.

Period cramps common sign of hormonal imbalance

Twelve Common Signs of Hormonal Imbalance in Women

Hormones play an essential role within our bodies – subsequently, a slight hormonal imbalance can throw off your system, leading to unwanted symptoms and side effects. 

Produced by the glands in our endocrine system, hormones act like little messengers. They relay instructions that tell your body what to do and when to do it. You don’t want them playing a game of broken telephone! 

Hormones and The Role They Play in Our Bodies 

You may be familiar with estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, but our bodies have over 50 different hormones. 

They are essential communicators for reproduction, metabolism, growth, mood regulation, our sleep-wake cycle, and more. Often, these processes need a chain reaction of many hormones working together. If one is lacking, it can throw off the whole process. 

Look at your hormones as part of a recipe – too little or too much of one ingredient will mess with the results! 

12 Common Signs of Hormone Imbalance in Women 


Thought you left acne in your teenage years? If it’s making an unwanted comeback, you might blame excess androgens. Adult acne related to hormonal shifts is often centred on your lower face, around your jawline and cheeks.


Migraines are intense headaches, often on one side of your head, that can also include sensitivity to light, nausea, fatigue, or dizziness. Strong fluctuations of estrogen usually cause hormone-related migraines.  

Excessive growth or hair loss. 

Thinning hair and excessive facial hair growth are both signs of a hormonal imbalance. It is often the result of high androgen levels (male hormones). 

Low sex drive. 

While dips in libido are natural, a continual lack of interest in sex can signify a hormonal imbalance, often related to low estrogen levels. 

Unexplained weight changes.

Sudden weight gain or loss not associated with any lifestyle or health issues can be related to imbalanced hormone levels due to thyroid issues. 

Night sweats.

Waking up in the middle of the night needing to change your clothes is no fun! Low or fluctuating estrogen levels may be to blame if you have frequent night sweats. 


It’s normal to feel tired now and then when life is busy! But overwhelming fatigue that consistently disrupts your everyday life could signify excess progesterone or thyroid issues. 


On the flip side, if you toss and turn and can’t seem to fall asleep at night or fall asleep but wake up often, it could signal low progesterone. 

Vaginal dryness.

Vaginal dryness tends to happen when entering menopause. But if you are younger and suffering from this symptom, it could mean your estrogen levels are too low. 

Memory issues. 

If you once had an excellent memory but now struggle to find your keys, your memory issues might be attributed to low estrogen levels. 

Irregular Periods. 

 If you are skipping periods, have an irregular cycle, or have excruciating cramping, that’s a sign that something is amiss! The ideal period shouldn’t disrupt your life – either low progesterone or imbalanced estrogen may be to blame. 


Infertility is a heart-breaking issue that can signal a hormone imbalance. Fortunately, if the problem stems from hormones, there are treatments available that can help you conceive and carry a healthy baby. 

Hormones are small but mighty! They play essential roles within our bodies. Evidently, if you suffer from one of these common signs of hormone imbalance, see your naturopathic doctor for testing. It won’t just go away on its own – you need to find and treat the root cause to feel your absolute best! If you have questions about your hormones, please reach out – I’d love to chat!