The Impact of Insulin on our Hormones and Fertility

May 18, 2018 | Uncategorized

Did you realise that every time you eat, it sends a message to your hormones?

Women’s Hormones work as an intricate system, using a continuous feedback loop. When one hormone is out of balance, the others will adjust and thus fall out of balance as well.

When we think of Women’s Health, we immediately associate estrogen, and perhaps also progesterone and testosterone, all of which play very important roles in health and fertility. The hormone that is often overlooked in insulin.

Insulin is created by the pancreas, and its main role is to manage blood glucose levels (ie blood sugar levels). When blood sugar levels rise after a meal, insulin is secreted and transports glucose into cells for energy or the liver for storage. Storage capacity is limited however, so any excess glucose is stored as fat (hence one of my frequently used quotes is: “fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat”, source unknown).

Blood sugar levels need to stay in a fine range, and the more sugar there is in the blood, the more insulin is released to quickly bring the levels back to normal. For any meal that is particularly large, or particularly high in sugars (not just the sweet kind, but any form of carbohydrate), more insulin needs to be secreted to respond to this.

Due to the Western diet most of us consume, which contains grains, high GI carbohydrates, starchy vegetables, sweet treats, and processed foods and alcohol, our blood sugar levels are chronically increased, even if only slightly. However, this already results in equally chronically increased insulin levels, and this is where the myriad of problems begin.

  1. Elevated levels of insulin affect the pituitary gland, one of the ‘control centres’ of our hormone production.
  2. Testosterone levels are increased, which can affect or even halt ovulation.
  3. Estrogen levels decrease, resulting in difficulty conceiving, and potential metabolic andhormonal disorders.
  1. FSH and LH are inhibited, therefore preventing follicular maturation. Progesterone is therefore also affected, and If ovulation occurs, egg quality may be significantly compromised.
  2. Elevated insulin levels may compromise the effectiveness of fertility medications
  3. Increased fat storage leading to weight gain and fat around organs, which is also linkedto infertility, as well as metabolic disorders and obesity.
  4. High blood sugar levels and high insulin are also pro-inflammatory, leading to otherhealth risks including cardiovascular disease, depression and dementia.

The other issue is, if insulin levels are chronically elevated, the receptor cells say: ‘hang on a minute, what’s going on here, it’s too much’ and start to become less sensitive to responding to insulin. This is a condition called Insulin Resistance.

Insulin Resistance is often associated with Diabetes as well as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), however may also be linked to other hormonal and fertility issues (in both women and men!). Common symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, brain fog/difficulty concentrating, weight gain or struggle to lose weight, and constant hunger. However, many women in the early stages of Insulin Resistance do not have any noticeable symptoms at all.

Even in nondiabetic women, diets high in carbohydrates, junk food, processed food, lack of exercise and regular alcohol consumption are major contributors to Insulin Resistance, and thus dietary and lifestyle intervention are key factors in managing and preventing this. In fact, dietary intervention and weight loss have been found to significantly reduce symptoms of PCOS and associated infertility and are protective after menopause as well.

So we cannot stress enough the importance of getting your blood sugar levels into an optimal range. Whether for fertility or menopause or general wellbeing, small dietary interventions can have a massive flow on effect on long term hormonal metabolism and total body health.

At Angea, we are now offering a 6 week Liver and Gut Cleanse Program, with the key goal of reducing insulin levels, improving insulin sensitivity, cleansing and supporting the liver, and healing and recolonizing the gut. This will result in increased energy, more radiant skin, a slimmer waistline, and most importantly, improved nutrient absorption and assimilation.

Together with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, this will assist in optimizing your hormone metabolism and restoring balance and wellbeing.

Written by:
Viv Klaver, Nutritionist
B (Psych), BHs (Nut Med)

Contact us for more information now on 9510 3700 or email us at


Fica, S, Albu, A, Constantin, M & Dobri, GA (2008), ‘Insulin resistance and fertility in polycystic ovary syndrome’, J Med Life , 1(4), pp 415–422.

Mansour R, et al (2017), ‘Increased insulin resistance in men with unexplained infertility’, Reprod Biomed Online , 35(5), pp 571-575. Potter, D. (n.d.). Insulin Resistance and How it Affects IVF Success . Retrieved from

Suba, Z (2012), ‘Interplay between insulin resistance and estrogen deficiency as co-activators in carconogenesis’, Pathol Oncol Res , 18(2), pp 123-33.