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PCOS and Adrenal Health

In PCOS, the body’s hormonal balance can be disrupted, leading to various symptoms like acne, excessive hair growth, and menstrual irregularities. One of the hormones involved in this condition is DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate), which is produced by the adrenal glands located above the kidneys. DHEA-S is a precursor to testosterone and estrogen, and its levels are often measured in diagnosing PCOS.

Approximately 20-30% of women with PCOS have elevated levels of DHEA-S. While most excess androgens in PCOS come from the ovaries in response to high insulin levels, the adrenal glands can also contribute by producing excessive DHEA-S. Interestingly, elevated DHEA-S levels may also be associated with insulin resistance, further linking it to the development of PCOS.

Understanding the role of DHEA-S and its connection to insulin resistance provides valuable insights into the mechanisms behind PCOS. By addressing insulin levels and adopting a low insulin lifestyle, individuals with PCOS can work towards restoring hormonal balance and managing their symptoms effectively. It’s empowering to know that lifestyle changes can play a significant role in improving the overall well-being of those with PCOS.


Stress and anxiety have significant impacts on our hormonal balance and overall well-being. When it comes to stress, the interplay between insulin resistance and cortisol is crucial to understand. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress, and chronically high cortisol levels can lead to insulin resistance. Furthermore, high cortisol levels can contribute to overeating and weight gain, further worsening insulin resistance.

The increased insulin resistance not only contributes to rising insulin levels but also triggers the adrenal glands to produce excess androgens, such as testosterone. These androgens contribute to the signs and symptoms of PCOS, including acne, excessive hair growth, and menstrual irregularities. Therefore, managing stress is also an important component of a low insulin lifestyle.


In addition to the impact on insulin resistance, research has shown a potential association between insulin resistance and altered dopamine signaling in the brain, particularly in relation to mood disorders like anxiety. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and motivation, may be affected by insulin resistance. Specifically, insulin resistance has been linked to decreased dopamine turnover, which refers to the rate at which dopamine is synthesized and metabolized in the brain. This decreased turnover may lead to decreased dopamine availability, which has been linked to depressive and anxiety symptoms.

Overall, chronic stress and anxiety can lead to overactivity of the adrenal glands, resulting in chronically elevated cortisol levels. This can contribute to a variety of health problems, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and weight gain.

The good news is that through lifestyle changes and targeted interventions, we can tackle insulin resistance and its impact on adrenal androgen production. By adopting a low insulin lifestyle, including managing our stress, we can work towards improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the production of androgens from the adrenal glands. This comprehensive approach can help alleviate the symptoms of PCOS and promote better hormonal balance.


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