Op.Dr. Nurettin Türktekin
Insulin Resistance

Insulin Resistance

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance refers to a condition where the cells in the human body respond less effectively to the hormone of the same name that it produces. In this scenario, the cells in a person's body cannot use the necessary insulin efficiently to uptake glucose. As a result, the body starts producing more of this hormone regularly. Over time, the pancreas might struggle to sustain the increased production of insulin while attempting to cope with insulin resistance.

To understand what insulin resistance is, it's important to first recognize this crucial hormone. It is produced in an organ called the pancreas and plays a critical role in regulating the body's energy production and blood sugar levels. It achieves this by facilitating the entry of glucose derived from carbohydrate-rich foods into cells, thus regulating blood sugar levels.

What are the Functions of Insulin Hormone?

The insulin hormone has specific functions. When the food a person consumes is digested and converted into glucose, it enters the bloodstream, causing blood sugar levels to rise. Insulin regulates the entry of glucose into cells, bringing this level back to normal.

When glucose is taken up by cells, it can be used for energy production or stored in the liver and muscles in a form called glycogen. Insulin also promotes the formation and activity of these glycogen stores. Additionally, the hormone supports the uptake and storage of fatty acids in adipose tissues.

Insufficient insulin or resistance of cells to insulin can lead to certain disorders. This condition can result in diseases like type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes. It is a fundamental hormone for sugar metabolism and energy regulation. Its proper functioning is vital for the continued smooth operation of bodily functions. The question of what an optimal level of insulin resistance should be must be addressed by consulting a healthcare professional.

What are the Symptoms of Insulin Resistance?

Symptoms of insulin resistance usually don't manifest prominently, but some signs can help individuals become aware of this condition. The most important ones are listed below:

  • Weight gain.
  • Fluctuations in blood sugar.
  • Fatigue and low energy.
  • Skin infections.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

This issue is often associated with increased fat accumulation in the abdominal region, also known as "apple-shaped obesity." Excess abdominal fat can elevate insulin resistance and also raise the risk of diabetes. People with this condition often have unstable blood sugar levels due to their body cells not utilizing glucose adequately. Rapid fluctuations in this value, especially after meals, could indicate insulin resistance.

A skin condition called acanthosis nigricans typically presents as dark-colored skin patches, often in the neck, armpit, and groin areas. This can be a sign of insulin resistance and is commonly linked to obesity. Additionally, individuals with this condition might frequently experience narrowed blood vessels and high blood pressure.

Hormonal Disorders Leading to Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance generally arises from a complex interplay of factors, and hormonal disorders can contribute to its development. One such disorder is PCOS, one of the most common hormonal disorders in women. This syndrome involves the formation of cysts on the ovaries, leading to irregular periods, weight gain, and excessive hair growth. PCOS is closely related to insulin resistance, and it's known to contribute to its development.

Another disorder, Cushing's syndrome, involves excessive production of the stress hormone cortisol. Obesity, high blood pressure, skin issues, and insulin resistance are commonly observed symptoms in this case as well. Additionally, hyperprolactinemia, an excessive production of the prolactin hormone, can cause irregular periods, lactation, and reproductive problems. This is another hormonal disorder that can impact insulin resistance.

However, it's important to note that not every case of insulin resistance is linked to these disorders. If an individual experiences certain symptoms or has concerns about being at risk, seeking advice from a specialized healthcare professional is crucial without delay.

Genetic Factors Contributing to Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance can develop due to genetic factors. Rabson-Mendenhall Syndrome (RMS) and Donohue Syndrome (Leprechaunism) are two rare, genetically inherited syndromes. Both result from mutations in the insulin receptor gene and cause severe insulin resistance. In these conditions, the body responds much less to insulin than normal.

RMS is a rare syndrome caused by mutations in the insulin receptor gene. These mutations disrupt the normal function of the insulin receptor and hinder cells' ability to respond to insulin. RMS is characterized by symptoms such as skin anomalies, facial deformities, growth retardation, dental issues, and insulin resistance. Treating this syndrome is challenging, and approaches usually focus on alleviating symptoms.

Donohue Syndrome arises from different types of mutations in the insulin receptor gene and is similarly associated with severe insulin resistance, similar to RMS. The syndrome's name references the mythical creatures called "leprechauns" from Irish mythology, as patients' facial features are sometimes compared to those of these creatures. The syndrome manifests with early-onset growth retardation, characteristic facial changes, bodily anomalies, and serious health problems that can lead to death in the first months of life.

Relationship Between Insulin Resistance and Infertility

The connection between insulin issues and infertility is a topic of interest for many. Conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can shed light on the link between insulin resistance and infertility. PCOS is a common hormonal disorder among women. Women with this condition may experience symptoms such as irregular periods, excessive hair growth, and acne due to immature eggs accumulating as cysts in the ovaries.

There is a known association between hormonal disorders and infertility. High insulin levels can affect hormone production in the ovaries and hinder proper ovulation. Additionally, insulin resistance can increase inflammation levels in the body, negatively impacting reproductive health. Dr. Nurettin Türktekin provides top fertility treatments in Turkey, including procedures like in vitro fertilization (IVF). For more information on various procedures, please feel free to reach out to us.



Ovarian cysts are fluid-filled sacs or vesicles seen inside the ovary. Normally, during each menstrual period, a cyst called a follicle, which carries the egg cell and can reach 3 cm in size, forms in the ovaries. Then this cyst cracks and the egg is released. In young girls with ovulation problems, normal or physiological follicle cysts that cannot rupture can grow every month and reach 5-10 cm, while small numbers of 0.5-1 cm in size, which we call polycystic ovaries, can be seen in series. Apart from these functional cysts, benign or malignant ovarian cysts can also be seen in all age groups.

Except for the most common functional ovarian cysts, cysts can be benign or malignant tumoral cysts. In addition, as a result of infection, abscess-shaped cysts may occur, which is usually accompanied by pain and high fever.


Insulin resistance can increase the risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels during the pregnancy process.

Yes, insulin resistance can be treated or managed. Healthy lifestyle changes, weight loss, exercise, and, when necessary, medication can help control insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance often develops due to the interaction of factors such as genetic predisposition, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and unhealthy eating habits.

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