Is Ozempic A Promising Treatment for Insulin Resistance and PCOS?
June 26. 2023
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine condition that affects 1 out of 10 women during their reproductive years. PCOS causes high androgen levels, resulting in symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycle or no period at all, subfertility, and insulin resistance. This condition is linked to obesity – around 40% of women with PCOS are obese or overweight. In the last few years, experts started to discuss Ozempic becoming a possible treatment for insulin resistance PCOS management.
This medication is highly successful for weight management and type 2 diabetes. Can Ozempic weight loss help you treat PCOS and reverse insulin resistance?
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disbalance condition that affects women during their childbearing years. It occurs when the body creates a hormone called androgen in excess levels. Androgen is an essential hormone in females and males; for women, it helps them with their reproductive development and sexual libido. But excessive levels of this hormone are not good for your health. This hormone disbalance causes adverse side effects in the ovaries. Ovaries are the organs in charge of developing and releasing the egg each month. When this condition affects your ovaries, they may stop developing the eggs or not release them during ovulation like they normally would.
This condition often starts at puberty, when a woman has her first period. Although, it can be developed after puberty too. Most women are diagnosed with PCOS in their 20s or 30s when trying to get pregnant. Subferitlity is one of PCOS’s most common side effects.
What causes this condition?
At this time, the exact causes of polycystic ovary syndrome are still unknown. This condition is mainly linked to hormonal disbalance. Your hormone levels before birth or the environment and lifestyle factors can contribute to developing PCOS.
Evidence shows that genetics can play a crucial role in this condition’s development. Suppose someone in your familiar had it, like your mother or aunt, the risk of developing PCOS increases. About a third of the women with PCOS have a family history of this condition.
Hormones are chemicals your body creates to carry messages through the bloodstream. Different hormones help control different body functions such as muscle growth, sexual function, reproduction, obtaining energy, digestion, and more. PCOS is characterized by your body producing high levels of two hormones – androgen and insulin. In excess, these hormones cause your ovaries to malfunction, among other side effects.
Polycystic ovary syndrome can affect women with all weight ranges. However, obesity or overweight can increase the production of hormones that cause PCOS. Weight loss can decrease those hormone secretions and make improvements in PCOS. That is why many women work with a weight loss clinic in Chicago along with their PCOS primary doctor to battle weight gain and manage this condition.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
There is no specific test to diagnose PCOS, but your healthcare provider can run other tests to tell if you have this condition. After discussing your symptoms, your doctor will likely order blood tests and an ultrasound. They will ask you the following questions and run these tests:
- You’ll discuss your symptoms and medical history
- The doctor will check your family’s medical history
- They’ll take your weight
- Blood pressure test
- Blood sugar levels test
- Physical exam
- Pelvic exam and ultrasound
PCOS’ most common symptoms
Women with PCOS experience different symptoms that range from mild to severe. At different stages of your life, symptoms can change – disappear or increase or develop new ones. If you have a few of the most common PCOS symptoms, your healthcare provider will probably diagnose the condition and order the mentioned tests. Typical symptoms include:
- Irregular or no periods: high levels of insulin and androgen can disrupt your menstrual cycle, leading to sporadic periods or no periods at all. Some women may never have their first period due to PCOS. That is the number one indicator that you could have PCOS. Nevertheless, some women with this condition have regular menstrual cycles.
- Excess hair: PCOS can cause excessive hair growth (hirsutism) due to the high levels of androgen hormone. This hair tends to be darker and thicker than usual, and it grows in areas where men typically grow hair (chin, upper lip, chest, and lower abdomen).
- Skin conditions: another clear sign of high androgen levels are skin conditions such as acne.
- Mental health conditions: while more research is needed on this topic, stress, anxiety, and depression are also symptoms of PCOS. That could be due to the increase in hormone levels that affect women’s emotional well-being.
How Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can affect your health
PCOS is a risk factor that can lead to other health conditions. Besides the symptoms we exposed above, these are other health problems or conditions that women with PCOS can develop:
Trouble getting pregnant
PCOS is one of the most common causes of subfertility or infertility. The hormonal imbalance interferes with the normal production and release of eggs from the ovaries. That process is known as ovulation; without ovulation, you can’t get pregnant. Thankfully, this condition can be treated, and women with PCOS can still get pregnant naturally.
Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is a serious condition in which the body’s cells don’t respond to insulin as they should. Insulin works as a key that opens the doors of our cells for glucose (energy) to come inside. After we eat, the pancreas releases insulin so our body can take up the glucose it needs to function correctly. When cells stop responding to insulin (they become insulin resistant), glucose can’t get in, and that often results in the body not absorbing nutrients. Blood sugar levels keep rising, which is dangerous for the overall health. And the pancreas keeps secreting more and more insulin hormones to get glucose into the cells. This condition often is a precursor of pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance and PCOS are deeply intertwined. Insulin sensitivity is not only a symptom of PCOS; it is one of the primary drivers of the condition. Excessive insulin levels can compromise ovulation and cause ovaries to produce more testosterone (the most common type of androgen).
Overweight and obesity
Not every woman with PCOS will have obesity; however, weight gain and obesity are typical symptoms of this condition. The link between excess weight and PCOS is complex. Obesity can play a role in the development of PCOS, and this condition can also lead to further weight gain.
Insulin resistance is one of the primary contributors to weight gain in women with PCOS. When too much insulin hormone is in the bloodstream, the body starts producing more androgen. These hormones produce weight gain in women, especially around the abdomen (belly). That is known as visceral or belly fat. Belly fat can harm our health; it causes fatty liver and increases the risk of strokes and heart disease. Trying to get rid of this stubborn fat can be challenging. Exercise and diet are needed; some people enhance their weight loss journey with supplements, such as Phentermine for weight loss. Visceral fat is also an indicator of metabolic syndrome – another condition linked to insulin resistance and overweight.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a diabetes medication that, in the past years, became one of the most successful weight loss drugs. While still not approved by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for weight management, Novo Nordisk (Ozempic’s manufacturer) launched the same drug under the brand Wegovy. This drug is approved for obesity and weight loss management. Ozempic and Wegovy are essentially the same active ingredient: semaglutide. Clinical trials showed that semaglutide is highly efficient in treating type 2 diabetes and obesity. There are other brands on the market that are equally efficient, such as Mounjaro. While all the brands have high levels of success, some patients get better results with one or the other; for example, by switching from Ozempic to Mounjaro.
Semaglutide (Ozempic or tirzepatide (Mounjaro) receptor agonists mimic a naturally occurring hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). This hormone assists in balancing insulin and glucose production to control blood sugar levels. But one of the side effects of this is appetite suppression. When taking Ozempic, you will feel full after a light meal, which will allow you to stick to a diet and lose weight quickly. Appetite reduction doesn’t provoke weight loss on its own. This type 2 diabetes drug must be paired with healthy habits; for example, there are Ozempic foods to avoid to achieve body fat loss.
Is Ozempic good for insulin resistance PCOS?
PCOS’s treatments always involve lifestyle changes; eating healthier and exercising regularly can reduce the symptoms. When medication is necessary, most doctors prescribe metformin. Metformin is also a type 2 medication that can help lower insulin levels and other PCOS side effects. This medicine comes in liquid form or tablets, and you take it orally.
Metformin is not well-tolerated by every woman, and that is when Ozempic comes into the picture as an ideal alternative. Why ideal? Because besides helping with blood sugar and insulin resistance control – two symptoms and sources of PCOS – Ozempic also promotes weight loss. As we discussed, obesity and overweight are deeply connected to PCOS. With this type 2 diabetes drug, patients can achieve a healthy weight and control PCOS symptoms.
Another advantage is that Ozempic is a weekly injectable medication. You take it only once a week, always on the same day. When using metformin, you have to take the drug from one to three times a day, depending on your dosage. Ozempic is way more convenient, especially if you have a busy schedule or travel often.
Semaglutide (Ozempic) doesn’t interact with foods or other medications, except other blood sugar control drugs. When taking metformin for PCOS, doctors advise you to avoid caffeine. On the other hand, Ozempic and coffee combination is not an issue; this is good news for those who love and need their morning cup of coffee. Moreover, the combination can potentially enhance your weight loss efforts.
Treating PCOS with Ozempic
When taking Ozempic or Mounjaro for weight loss, you must start the treatment with the lowest possible dosage. If your healthcare provider recommends Ozempic for PCOS and insulin resistance, they will likely recommend the same. Your doctor will start increasing the dose about a month into the program. Some patients ask us: why am I not losing weight on Ozempic during the first weeks? That’s because this adaptation period gives your body time to get used to the medication. As soon as you take a higher dosage, you will start seeing more significant weight loss.
As mentioned, weight gain and PCOS go hand in hand. The more weight you gain, the more symptoms you risk developing. Ozempic and Mounjaro help you curb your appetite and reduce unhealthy food cravings. By losing weight, your PCOS symptoms will lessen, and you can manage insulin resistance. How long does Ozempic take to work? It depends on each patient. However, these drugs are known for working fast; most individuals see results after eight weeks.
Losing excess weight and treating PCOS with Ozempic will also increase pregnancy rates. Nevertheless, Ozempic and Mounjaro are still not tested in pregnant women; you’ll probably have to quit the medication a few months before trying to conceive.
If metformin is not adequate for you, your doctor can prescribe Ozempic for insulin resistance and PCOS. The most significant advantage of this drug is that it will treat PCOS and help you with weight loss management. When you start losing the excess weight produced by this condition, you regain control of your health. Reducing blood sugar levels and saying goodbye to abdominal fat will improve PCOS symptoms, leading to a healthier life. Do you want to know more about how Ozempic can help with PCOS and insulin resistance? Schedule a call with our team today to learn more.
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