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  1. Home /
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  3. PCOS and Fatty Liver: Unveiling the Crucial Link

PCOS and Fatty Liver: Unveiling the Crucial Link

Unlock the connection between PCOS and fatty liver. Discover insights into managing these conditions for a healthier, balanced life. Dive in now!

  • Gynecologyy
By Shweta Kulshreshtha 14th Dec '23 20th Dec '23
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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, is a significant health issue. It affects around 116 million women worldwide, about 3.4% of all women. Among them, about 1.55 million are in the reproductive group. PCOS can raise the chances of getting a fatty liver. Research shows that fatty liver problems are more common in people with PCOS compared to those without it. It's found in 36% of cases and can go up to 70% in women with PCOS who also have liver issues.
 

Have you ever wondered how PCOS, a hormonal disorder, and fatty liver disease might be interconnected? Let's explore the fascinating link between these two common conditions affecting women.

How Often is Fatty Liver Disease Observed in Individuals with PCOS?

Free vector hand drawn flat design fatty liver illustration

Take charge of your well-being: Act now and schedule a check-up to monitor the potential link between PCOS and Fatty Liver Disease.

PCOS and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are both common conditions. They mainly affect women.
PCOS is a hormonal disorder. It can lead to irregular menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts, and metabolic disturbances. Several studies suggest a link between PCOS and an increased risk of NAFLD. 
This association might be related to insulin resistance, obesity, and hormonal imbalances. These are the typical characteristics of PCOS.
The prevalence of fatty liver diseases in individuals with PCOS varies across studies. Research indicates a higher prevalence of NAFLD in women with PCOS compared to those without it.
 

What are the Main Factors Relating PCOS to Fatty Liver Disease?

Menopause concept illustration

Let's look at some of the main factors which link PCOS to fatty liver disease:
 

  • Insulin Resistance: Insulin resistance is a key factor in PCOS and fatty liver diseases. Women with PCOS often have insulin resistance. This means their cells don't respond effectively to insulin. Thereby, it leads to increased insulin levels in the blood. Insulin resistance can contribute to the accumulation of fat in the liver. It is a hallmark of fatty liver diseases. 
  • Hyperinsulinemia: Elevated insulin levels, known as hyperinsulinemia, are common in PCOS. Insulin promotes the synthesis of fatty acids in the liver. It further inhibits their breakdown. This can lead to increased fat accumulation in the liver. Thus contributing to the development of fatty liver diseases.
  • Obesity: There is a higher prevalence of obesity in women with PCOS compared to those without it. Obesity is a major risk factor for both PCOS and fatty liver disease. It further worsens your insulin resistance and causes fat accumulation in the liver.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: PCOS is characterised by hormonal imbalances. These include elevated androgens (male hormones) and irregularities in menstrual cycles. These hormonal disturbances contribute to metabolic dysfunction and liver fat accumulation. Studies have shown that women with PCOS have an increased rate of NAFLD. 
  • Inflammation: Chronic low-grade inflammation is common in PCOS and fatty liver disease. Inflammation can contribute to insulin resistance and liver damage. Adipose tissue inflammation, seen in obesity, worsens fatty liver disease in individuals with PCOS.
  • Genetic Factors: Evidence suggests a genetic predisposition to both PCOS and fatty liver disease. Shared genetic factors may contribute to the co-occurrence of these conditions. Studies show that genetically predicted NAFLD increased the risk of PCOS by 10%.

Please note that not all individuals with PCOS will develop NAFLD, and the severity of liver involvement can vary. Lifestyle modifications, including diet, exercise, and weight management, are often recommended for PCOS. It will address insulin resistance and reduce the risk of associated metabolic conditions like fatty liver disease. Regular monitoring and consultation with doctors are crucial for early detection and management.
 

Don’t ignore your PCOS symptoms - Seek a consultation now 

 

But here's the real question. Should you go for regular screening for fatty liver disease if you have PCOS?


 

test for MAFLD in individuals with PCOS
Is it important to test for MAFLD in individuals with PCOS?
 

It depends on various factors, including the individual's health history, risk factors, and symptoms. PCOS itself is linked to metabolic issues, and there may be an increased risk of conditions like MAFLD.
Doctors may consider screening for MAFLD in PCOS patients, especially if there are additional risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, or abnormal liver function tests. Early detection can be important for managing and addressing potential liver-related complications.
 

Take charge of your health - Consult with us now 
 

Curious about the lasting effects on your liver, metabolism, and overall well-being? Join us to find out more.

What are the Long-Term Implications of Coexisting PCOS and Fatty Liver Disease?

The coexistence of PCOS and fatty liver disease can have several long-term implications. It's important to note that the severity and outcomes can vary among individuals. Not everyone with PCOS and fatty liver disease will experience the same consequences. But some potential long-term implications that you may see are:

  • Liver Damage Progression: Fatty liver disease can start with a simple fat accumulation in the liver. It may then progress to more severe conditions. These include non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis, cirrhosis, and even liver failure. Risk factors for progression are obesity, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
  • Cardiometabolic Risks: Both PCOS and fatty liver disease have an increased risk of cardiometabolic complications. These include cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, dyslipidemia (abnormal lipid levels), and type 2 diabetes. The combination of PCOS and fatty liver disease may further elevate these risks.
  • Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Insulin resistance is a common feature of PCOS and fatty liver disease. Over time, persistent insulin resistance may cause type 2 diabetes. If you have PCOS and fatty liver, you have a higher risk of diabetes.
  • Reproductive Health Complications: PCOS is already impacting your reproductive health. It does so by causing irregular menstrual cycles, anovulation, and fertility issues. The presence of fatty liver disease may add another layer of complexity. This worsens hormonal imbalances and affects reproductive outcomes.
  • Risk of Liver-related Complications: Studies show the increased prevalence of NAFLD in women with PCOS, with an estimated range between 25.4% and 68.8%. Advanced stages of fatty liver disease, like cirrhosis, increase the risk of liver-related complications. These include hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). Regular monitoring and appropriate interventions are essential to manage and mitigate these risks.
  • Quality of Life: The combination of PCOS and fatty liver disease can impact your quality of life. Fatigue, discomfort, and the need for ongoing medical management can affect daily activities and well-being.

References:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-86697-y

https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/pcos-fatty-liver

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6734597/

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/polycystic-ovary-syndrome


 

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