How Myo-Inositol can Affect your PCOS Symptoms
PCOS is one of the most common metabolic and hormonal disorders in Canada, affecting at least one in ten women of reproductive age.
If you suffer from PCOS, you may be contending with a wide range of distressing symptoms including irregular cycles, acne, weight gain and insulin resistance. Experts believe that the underlying cause of these symptoms is menstrual dysfunction and androgen excess - but one thing there is no doubt about is that these conditions take an enormous toll on a woman’s physical and emotional health.
Perhaps the most stressful symptom of them all is infertility due to lack of ovulation.
Thankfully, with so many thousands women suffering from this disorder, a large number of groundbreaking studies have been conducted that support the use of a naturally occurring substance called Myo-inositol. It works in a number of ways to help women alleviate or improve their symptoms and increase their chances of a successful pregnancy.
What is Myo-inositol?
Myo-inositol is a carbocyclic sugar that is naturally abundant in the brain and other tissues of healthy people. It has a number of important functions, including mediating cell signal transduction in response to hormones, neurotransmitters, and growth factors, which means that it can affect both the body's insulin response and hormone levels associated with mood and cognition. It also assists with osmoregulation (maintaining proper concentrations of water and salt in the body).
Inositol has additional antioxidant properties that can help fight off free radicals. It can be found in foods like cantaloupe and citrus fruit, as well as beans, brown rice, and sesame seeds.
Myo-inositol and Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance affects a high percentage of women with PCOS and is believed to play a key role in abnormal ovarian function.
Multiple clinical trials support supplementation with myo-inositol to help with the hormonal and metabolic symptoms of PCOS by promoting healthy glucose metabolism and reducing insulin resistance.In a placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial, women with PCOS who supplemented with myo-inositol plus 400 mcg of folic acid daily experienced an 84% increase in whole-body insulin sensitivity after 16 weeks, compared to no change in the placebo group. The results also showed an improved glucose tolerance. Their serum total testosterone and serum-free testosterone concentrations were reduced by 66% and 73%, respectively. Additionally, more than 69.5% of these women ovulated, compared to 21% who were taking the placebo.
Myo-inositol’s Effect on Ovulation and Fertility
When paired with D-chiro-inositol, myo-inositol has been clinically shown to support a normal menstrual cycle and ovulation in women with PCOS.
A recent meta-analysis of 935 infertile women who received myo-inositol while undergoing ovarian induction prior to ICSI or IVF reported extremely good results: it found a significant improvement in clinical pregnancy rate along with improvements in embryo quality.
Finding the Right Ratio of Inositol
Myo-inositol occurs naturally in the body and is converted to D-chiro-inositol. However, in women with PCOS, researchers have discovered that this conversion occurs too quickly, which leads to an imbalance. When a woman does not have enough myo-inositol and has excessive D-chiro-inositol (600 mg or higher per day) this impairs her egg quality and intensifies the struggle with infertility.
The ideal physiological ratio of myo-inositol to D-chiro-inositol is 40:1, making this the optimal ratio for supplementation to improve egg and embryo quality, as well as pregnancy rates in women with PCOS undergoing IVF.
In a six-month, randomized, placebo-controlled trial with 46 women with PCOS, the participants were assigned to either the treatment group with 40:1 ratio supplement or to a placebo. Compared to the placebo group, the women in the treatment group experienced significant improvements in both endocrine and metabolic parameters, including decreased levels of free testosterone, LH, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and HOMA index. The treatment group also experienced a significant increase in 17-beta-estradiol levels. No statistically significant improvements were seen in the placebo group.
An Alternative to Avoid the Side Effects of Metformin:
Metformin, (a diabetes medication that is also a commonly prescribed treatment for PCOS) is generally not well tolerated by PCOS sufferers in the long term. It can cause a number of significant side effects including nausea, abdominal distress and diarrhea.
In contrast, myo-inositol has been clinically proven to be very agreeable, with excellent outcomes and minimal side effects across the range of therapeutic dosages.
Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed with PCOS, are looking alternatives to metformin or are currently undergoing IVF treatments, you may want to discuss this supplement option with your health care provider to see if it’s appropriate for you.
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