Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is caused by a hormonal imbalance. PCOS affects 1 out of every 10 women of childbearing age and can lead to associated health problems like diabetes and infertility. Although the paucity of cause is relatively unknown, there is no cure for PCOS. However, there are natural ways to alleviate symptoms. Inositol referred to as Vitamin B8 is one of the ways to help alleviate PCOS and the research has shown promising results.
What Is PCOS
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance disorder. Women with PCOS may have irregular menstrual cycles and elevated levels of the male hormone androgen. Although the exact cause is unknown, you can manage PCOS to alleviate symptoms and mitigate the risk of diabetes with specific supplements for PCOS.
Researchers purport that excess insulin may be a potential cause of PCOS. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows your body to regulate and use sugar for energy. If you become resistant to insulin then your blood sugar levels rise and your body will produce more insulin in response. Excess insulin might increase androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation. Evidence also shows that PCOS could be hereditary.
What Is Inositol
Inositol also known as Vitamin B8 is a naturally occurring sugar and is also found in a variety of foods such as fruits, grains, beans, and organ meats. Inositol is a type of sugar alcohol and considered a pseudovitamin because it is a nonessential nutrient.
Vitamins are considered essential nutrients because the body cannot synthesize enough of them to meet bodily requirements and therefore must be obtained through food or supplements.
Benefits Of Inositol For PCOS
Inositol May Improve Insulin Resistance
The ovary is very sensitive to the effects of insulin and is immune to insulin resistance. Too much insulin can alter the luteinizing hormone increasing ovarian androgen production.
Inositol more commonly referred to as Vitamin B8, is a pseudo vitamin and a kind of sugar made by the body. Present also in foods such as fruits and beans Inositol helps balance hormones and is a secondary messenger for insulin. Defects in this pathway can lead to impaired insulin signaling and cause insulin resistance. This is the main rationale suggesting the use of inositol in the management of insulin resistance syndromes, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) [R].
There are nine forms of inositol, but research suggests that the two that have the biggest impact on PCOS are myo-inositol (MI) and D-chiro-inositol (DCI).
Inositol May Balance Testosterone Levels
It is suggested that the inositol MI and DCI reduce insulin resistance, improve ovarian function, and reduce androgen levels in women with PCOS [R].
In the ovary, MI and DCI have specific duties to perform. MI supports FSH signaling, whereas DCI is responsible for insulin-mediated testosterone synthesis. In the normal ovary, these activities proceed in balance, allowing the maintenance of normal hormonal levels and facilitating ovarian function. In the polycystic ovary, systemic insulin resistance (hyperinsulinemia) accentuates epimerase activity, thus creating a higher DCI-to-MI ratio. This promotes hyperandrogenism and reduces the efficiency of MI-mediated FSH signaling.
Research has shown that inositol may reduce testosterone levels and aid in reducing androgen levels. Treatment duration however is critical to help alleviate symptoms requiring a minimum of 6 months to see an overall reduction [R].
Inositol May Restore Ovulation
Myo-Inositol has been shown to help restore ovulation in women with PCOS. MI is a second messenger of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and DCI is an aromatase inhibitor. With the combined administration of both myo-inositol and DCI in a 40:1 ratio, could enhance fertility for women with PCOS seeking pregnancy [R].
A meta-analysis published in the journal Molecules identified 35 randomized controlled trials investigating inositol on PCOS. A majority of the studies showed that MI treatment improved ovarian function and fertility, decreased the severity of hyperandrogenism including acne and hirsutism, positively affected metabolic aspects, and modulated various hormonal parameters deeply involved in the reproductive axis function and ovulation. Thus, treating with MI has become a novel method to ameliorate PCOS symptoms, improve spontaneous ovulation, or induce ovulation [R].
Inositol For PCOS: Takeaway
Research shows that a combination of myo-inositol and D-Chiro-inositol, may help alleviate symptoms of PCOS and help improve menstrual cycles, ovulation, balance hormones, regulate insulin, and improve metabolic changes. Inositol treatment for PCOS is also very inexpensive compared to other fertility treatments. Before using inositol or combination therapy consult your healthcare provider to learn more about if inositol or combination therapy is the right protocol for you.
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Unfer, Vittorio et al. “Myo-inositol effects in women with PCOS: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Endocrine connections vol. 6,8 (2017): 647-658. doi:10.1530/EC-17-0243
Zacchè MM, Caputo L, Filippis S, Zacchè G, Dindelli M, Ferrari A. Efficacy of myo-inositol in the treatment of cutaneous disorders in young women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Gynecological Endocrinology 2009. 25 508–513. ( 10.1080/09513590903015544)
Facchinetti F, Unfer V, Dewailly D, Kamenov ZA, Diamanti-Kandarakis E, Laganà AS, Nestler JE, Soulage CO; Group of 'Inositol in PCOS and Reproduction'. Inositols in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: An Overview on the Advances. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2020 Jun;31(6):435-447. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2020.02.002. Epub 2020 Mar 9. PMID: 32396844.
Kamenov Z, Gateva A. Inositols in PCOS. Molecules. 2020 Nov 27;25(23):5566. doi: 10.3390/molecules25235566. PMID: 33260918; PMCID: PMC7729761.