With so much information available on the internet, as well as new research being published every day, it may feel like you’ve been lost in an echo chamber when it comes to the best methods for managing symptoms of PCOS.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is one of the most common causes of female infertility and can affect up to 12% of those of childbearing age. Unfortunately there is no set cure for PCOS, and finding a solution to manage symptoms of varying severity can feel discouraging. In this blog post, we’re going to break down inositol, which is a supplement that is increasing in popularity when it comes to managing PCOS, and whether it might be beneficial for you.
If you do want to learn more about PCOS and how women with PCOS are impacted, read our previous blog.
What is Inositol?
You may have heard of inositol being referred to as vitamin B8, but it is not a vitamin at all! Inositol is a type of sugar with a structure that is similar to glucose. Inositol is naturally found in the body and plays an important role in cell signaling and is one of the components of our body’s cells’ membranes. It also plays a role in the action of insulin, as well as that of serotonin and dopamine, which are important chemical messengers in the brain.
When discussing inositol supplements, we’re usually talking about it in its form that is called myo-inositol, or MI. In nature, inositols are present in citrus fruits and high-fibre foods like beans, brown rice and corn. However, the average diet only receives about 1g of inositol. This is why it is often supplemented for those diagnosed with various conditions, from panic disorders to metabolic disorders such as PCOS and type II diabetes. When inositol supplements are prescribed for PCOS, the typical dosage ranges from 200-4000mg. It is important to note, though, that there is no RDA (recommended daily allowance) for inositol and there is no standardized dosing schedule or amount, so it may vary from person to person and within different conditions and severity of symptoms.
How can inositol impact PCOS symptoms?
To understand how inositol can assist PCOS management, we need to understand how PCOS affects the body. In many cases of PCOS, insulin resistance and hyperglycemia are present, and these cause the main problem sources of PCOS: the inhibition of the production of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, which then leads to an increase of androgens in the blood. This means that managing the insulin resistance often paired with PCOS is key to managing symptoms. Inositol is recognized as a natural insulin sensitizer, and its impact on reversing insulin resistance, as well as on other aspects of PCOS including fertility, is being heavily investigated – with promising results!
Inositol - the pros and cons
If you struggle with managing PCOS symptoms, especially if your goal is improved fertility, it might seem like inositol might be a saving grace! However, it is important to look at the benefits of the supplement against any potential drawbacks to see if it’s right for you. Here is a table detailing the pros and cons of inositol supplements for those with PCOS:
It’s important to remember that not all studies are perfect, and while there have been promising results it is important to talk to your healthcare practitioner if you are thinking of starting any new supplements. If this is something you’d like to explore further, first steps would be understanding if you do have insulin resistance and could benefit from supplementation of inositol.
How to do this?
Book in with our nurse practitioner for a Women’s Health Consultation and she will assess you and determine if inositol is the best fit for you. Remember that although inositol can support insulin resistance, making dietary and lifestyle changes can also be beneficial. This is why at Nourishing Balance we have a team to support you. Book in with Maiya or Lina if you are looking to manage your hormones and PCOS.