Taking Inositol for PCOS: 10 Things You Need to Know 1

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, you know how difficult it can be to live with this hormonal disorder. 

One way to treat PCOS is by taking the supplement Inositol, a vitamin B-like supplement that regulates the body’s production of eggs and over time minimizes many of the symptoms of PCOS. 

Inositol is completely safe and is something that the body produces naturally and at higher levels when Inositol-high foods are consumed, but there are some things to keep in mind when you supplement your body with it. 

Before we dive in, it’s important to first identify why Inositol should be recommended as a PCOS treatment in the first place. 

Why take Inositol for PCOS

As mentioned before, Inositol is naturally occurring in the body, but in a body with PCOS, the cellular process to use and produce Inositol doesn’t function correctly. Therefore, the body is unable to use Inositol to regulate insulin and other hormonal processes. 

This disrupted cellular process is one of the main reasons why PCOS largely upsets a woman’s normal hormonal processes. By taking Inositol, the body can properly regulate the cellular process around hormone function to improve insulin sensitivity and free testosterone levels. 

Common Inositol is a mixture of nine vitamin-like substances, but the two main Inositol products used for PCOS supplementation are Myo-Inositol and D-chiro-Inositol. Most Inositol-for-PCOS supplements will have a mixture of these two compounds or one or the other. 

10 Things you need to know when taking Inositol for PCOS

While it can be kind of scary taking any kind of supplement to treat a hormonal disorder, know that Inositol is completely safe. 

Here are 10 things you need to know when you or a loved one is taking Inositol for PCOS.

1. Inositol can be modified to treat the varying PCOS symptoms

A body with PCOS might be affected in many different ways. For the most part, PCOS women produce more free testosterone, therefore encouraging higher levels of androgen production and altering normal productions of eggs. 

Inositol can treat these androgen levels, but how you use it will depend on your goal in regulating these androgen levels. 

Inositol can be used for fertility control, to manage the insulin levels in the body, to reduce weight, to manage excessive hair growth, for regulating hormones that might negatively affect someone’s mental properties, and for treating androgen-related acne. While Inositol can help each of these, the specific Inositol supplement, dosage, ratio, and frequency will depend on what you are looking to treat.

For example, D-chiro-Inositol, which is one of the common Inositol supplements, can be used for managing insulin resistance but it would not be effective for managing fertility. This is because D-chiro-Inositol targets the insulin-resistant properties of non-ovarian tissues and will not reduce infertility. Myo-Inositol, on the other hand, targets insulin-resistant properties of ovarian tissues directly.

If you’re unsure of what type of Inositol your body needs, be sure to talk with your doctor before purchasing or consuming any supplements. 

2. Inositol for fertility can be effective

Because the body’s hormonal system and egg production is off, chances of a woman with PCOS getting pregnant are drastically reduced. 

This does not necessarily mean that she is infertile, it just means that her body’s cellular processes are messing up the natural cyclical menstrual cycle and make it harder to get pregnant. 

For fertility reasons, Inositol can regulate this. Myo-Inositol can be taken on its own, in combination with D-chiro-Inositol, or D-chiro-Inositol can be taken on its own. 

Studies have also shown that Myo-Inositol is more effective for fertility than metformin. Do not take only D-chiro-Inositol for fertility as D-chiro-Inositol targets the insulin-sensitive properties of non-ovarian tissues and will not impact infertility compared to Myo-Inositol. 

3. 2000 mg twice daily of Myo-Inositol is most effective in treating infertile women with ovarian hyperstimulation

With the introduction of Myo-Inositol along with intrauterine insemination (IUI), pregnancy rates were increased by 50% after taking Myo-Inositol for three months

When taking 2000 mg of Myo-Inositol in conjunction with 200 μg of folic acid (twice daily for three months), in conjunction with ovulation induction (IVF or IUI), studies have found that egg quality is increased, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is decreased, and this winning combination has serious benefits for women who are trying to conceive. 

If you or someone you love is going through ovulation induction and is also experiencing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, make sure to talk to the doctor about the benefits of adding Myo-Inositol to treatment.

4. Inositol should be taking in combination with a PCOS-supported diet and lifestyle changes for weight loss

Weight gain is a commonly reported symptom of PCOS, again, largely because of the body’s inability to regulate the natural production of Inositol in the body which leads to insulin resistance. 

Taking Inositol solely for weight loss will work and it will regulate the body’s hormone production. Note that the amount of weight loss is relatively small (about two pounds over six months) if weight loss occurs at all

Instead, consider taking Inositol to regulate PCOS generally, and follow a PCOS-supported diet and lifestyle. 

5. Insulin resistance or general metabolic health can be improved with Inositol

Women who are overweight and have PCOS generally develop insulin resistance. However, those women who do not develop insulin resistance might still benefit from taking Inositol as it improves the general metabolic health of a PCOS body. 

Both Myo-Inositol and D-chiro-Inositol supplements have been shown to have a positive effect on both metabolic health and cardiovascular health. 

A systematic review of 21 studies found that Myo-Inositol had a significant impact on hormonal parameters in people with PCOS. It improved the glucose to insulin ratios and improved cholesterol levels. 

6. Inositol can help with hirsutism, but the effects are mild

Hirsutism, or excessive hair growth in unwanted areas of your body, can develop to a degree in women with PCOS. However, treating hirsutism with Inositol will come with only mild effects. 

In a six month study, researchers found that only one-third of women with a severe diagnosis of hirsutism managed to eliminate their hirsutism by taking myo-Inositol regularly and another portion of that study saw a reduced severity of the hirsutism. This was after taking 4000 mg of Myo-Inositol per day. 

So while Myo-Inositol is effective at regulating hormonal production, this supplement targets ovarian tissues, and won’t target non-ovarian tissues. 

7. Myo-Inositol can be effective at treating acne

Elevated levels of free testosterone may cause unwanted and excessive acne for some people. Myo-Inositol can be effective at treating this symptom but, of course, these benefits can be applied to all women with PCOS. 

Some studies suggest that Myo-Inositol cleared up acne after six months of taking the supplement, but these studies suggest that only half of the women in the trial ended up with cleared acne. 

What’s more effective is a PCOS-friendly diet in combination with Myo-Inositol. Switching to a PCOS-friendly diet, making positive lifestyle changes, and taking an Inositol supplement will provide the best results

8. Myo-Inositol can treat anxiety, depression, and other psychological disorders through supplementation alone and by reducing other PCOS symptoms

Many people who have PCOS experience anxiety and depression not only from the diagnosis alone but because of the symptoms that come along for the ride. 

If you or someone you live with experiences anxiety or depression because of PCOS symptoms, such as acne, weight gain, and infertility, regulating these symptoms with Myo-Inositol may restore mental stability and wellbeing. 

Some studies have shown that high doses of Inositol can reduce panic attacks in people who are susceptible to them, as well as reducing bulimia and binge-eating, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and improving depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (or PMDD). 

9. Don’t take Myo-Inositol supplements that contain folic acid

While folic acid is a supplement widely recommended by doctors to support red blood cell formation and the development of a fetus’ spine, brain, and spinal cord, some studies have shown that labelling, in particular with myo-Inositol supplements, have been inaccurate

Stick with a pure myo-Inositol supplement and additionally purchase a folic acid supplement. 

10. Be patient and speak with your doctor

After learning about all the different ways that Inositol might interact with the body, and all the different dosages, it is easy to become overwhelmed or feel that all is at a loss for where to start. 

All this means is that there are different ways that the body will take Inositol and different types of Inositol targets different tissues in the body. 

Most importantly, don’t stress. Talk to your doctor about the symptoms that you are looking to address, and let them know that you are interested in taking Inositol. Your doctor has your best interest in heart and will help you to achieve your goals around PCOS treatment.

Resources

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