If you’re a woman with irregular periods, can the length of time between your menstrual cycles indicate deeper problems with your metabolic health?
It appears the answer is yes, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and your cycles are very long or absent.
A new US study has found that in women with PCOS, a history of very long or absent menstrual cycles correlates with a greater incidence of chronically high insulin and blood sugar abnormalities, regardless of the woman’s body mass index.
The researchers conclude the findings may help refine treatment and improve screening for insulin resistance and blood sugar abnormalities in PCOS.
This new study confirms previous research that also found that in women with PCOS, a long length of time between a woman’s cycles – especially if it is longer than three months – is a significant and simple clinical sign that insulin resistance is present. (Insulin resistance is a risk factor of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. )
In addition, the Nurses Health Study, which followed more than 75,000 women, also reported in 2020 that a history of irregular or long menstrual cycles over a woman’s lifespan was a significant risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, even without the PCOS diagnosis.
The good news is that you can take action and prevent or reverse your high insulin levels and possibly even your PCOS symptoms.
A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis found that low-carb diets improved reproductive health and fertility among women with menstrual irregularities.
So, if you have irregular periods, what is a scientifically proven way to reduce your risks of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes? Any healthy weight loss will likely start you on the right path. However, evidence suggests that trying a low-carb diet may be the best approach of all.
If you want to know more about PCOS, insulin resistance, or reversing type 2 diabetes, check out our popular guides.