UNDERSTANDING THE 4 TYPES OF PCOS AND HOW TO IDENTIFY YOURS
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that many women suffer at their reproductive stage in Australia and worldwide. The exact cause remains unclear.
The ovaries develop a high amount of small fluid collections, which affects egg release. One may have prolonged menstrual periods or have high estrogen levels (male hormones). This disorder comes with a high risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
How do I know what kind of PCOS I have?
If you have had the opportunity to talk to women with PCOS, you will notice that they all have different symptoms. This is because there are four different variations of PCOS and all present with different symptoms.
These variations as yet to be fully recognised in scientific literature. When a doctor diagnoses you with one or more symptoms supporting PCOS disorder, they will classify your symptoms with one umbrella term; PCOS.
On one variation, a woman may gain weight while another will lose weight on another type, suffer fool-blown acne or take a while longer on their periods. Keep in mind that every woman with PCOS will have to go through it differently.
Different factors aid PCOS symptoms for each woman, considering how the disorder presents itself.
If you have been going through the internet researching your symptoms and you have the idea that you have PCOS syndrome, this article will help you determine which types of this disorder you may be experiencing among the four.
Types of polycystic ovary syndrome:
INSULIN RESISTANT PCOS
As the most common type of PCOS, insulin resistance (IR) PCOS affects over 70% of women with this disorder. In this type of PCOS, one may suffer the loss of hair, male-like hair growth, a severe acne outbreak, irregular periods and drastic weight gain.
The connection between the disorder and insulin is very prevalent such that Experts suggest that all women suffering from Polycystic ovary syndrome should be treated for insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a condition whereby the body fails to recognise or becomes resistant to the functions and effects of the blood sugar-regulating hormone known as insulin. This causes insulin levels to rise, causing a condition known as Hyperinsulinemia.
As insulin levels continue to rise over time, most PCOS symptoms of this variation begin to manifest, including:
- Mood swings
- Problems with sleep
- Weight gain
- Severe acne
- Irregular periods
- The unexplained hair growth or hair loss
When one experiences these symptoms, it affects your sex hormones, and they become imbalanced. A woman may have low progesterone levels and extreme levels of testosterone and estrogen hormones.
Experts’ preferred treatment for these types of PCOS is directed at improving blood sugar levels in a woman’s body while bringing down her insulin levels.
Metformin is one of the most common types of medication prescribed for this disorder. This medication is an insulin-sensitizing drug aimed at reversing insulin resistance.
Here are a few ways how insulin resistance PCOS is tested and the results
- Fasting blood glucose (heightened fasting glucose)
- Free and total testosterone (an elevation in for OR total testosterone levels)
- Fasting insulin (elevated fasting insulin)
- Hgb A1c (which stands for hemoglobin A1c) (elevated Hgb A1c, typically higher than 5.7%)
Even though the DHEA levels, which is an adrenal hormone, will most likely be normal for women with insulin resistance PCOS, your doctor may also test your DHEA for affirmation.
How do you control insulin resistance with PCOS?
- Getting at least 7hrs of sleep every night.
- Indulging in a low or moderate carb diet while ensuring the carbohydrates you consume are low-gi.
- Using inositol supplements readily available in Australia, apple cider vinegar and NAC.
- Have workout sessions for 3 to 6 days every week. The best way to exercise with this condition is by combining restorative workouts with resistance, HIIT.
- Taking Myo-Inositol supplements 2 x 200mg doses a day
Many women with adrenal Polycystic ovary syndrome suffer similar symptoms to those with insulin-resistant PCOS. one main difference is that women with adrenal PCOS have no elevated free and total testosterone. The lab tests for these two variations are also different.
With adrenal PCOS, one has heightened levels of the adrenal hormone DHEA produced by the adrenal gland. The most common triggers are stress-related, including emotional, metabolic or physical stress.
Some prevalent symptoms of this type of the PCOS disorder include:
- Gaining weight, but sometimes it does not go beyond the normal range
- An acne breakout
- Irregular periods
- Stress-related issues such as sleep issues, fatigue and mood swings
Another condition presents itself with similar symptoms as adrenal PCOS, known as non-classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia (NCAH). When you exhibit any of these symptoms, it is good to have your doctor check your prolactin level to establish what condition you have exactly.
Here are a few ways how adrenal PCOS is tested and the results:
- Insulin resistance (normal insulin and blood sugar)
- Serum DHEA (elevated serum DHEA levels)
- Free and total testosterone (normal range for both)
- 8 am serum cortisol (High or normal serum cortisol)
The few best ways one can control adrenal Polycystic ovary syndrome include:
- Take vitamin D, ashwagandha, l-tyrosine, curcumin, inositol, and magnesium supplements.
- Practising stress prevention ensures you have reduced stress on a daily basis.
- Always aim at getting quality sleep every night.
- Reducing your intake of processed foods and sugar.
There are some forms of inflammation, such as wound healing, that have positive effects on our bodies. Our bodies are protected from infections as the wound heals, which is lifesaving. However, inflammatory PCOS is caused by chronic inflammation.
The type of inflammation associated with PCOS is chronic and long-term, making your body stay alert all the time. Several studies in Australia have shown that this variation is fuelled by elevated CRP (an inflammatory marker) levels compared to women without this type of PCOS.
When CRP levels rise, one becomes at risk of suffering the most common issues that PCOS causes; heart disease, high insulin resistance, and diabetes. Symptoms of inflammatory PCOS include:
- Recurring headaches, infections, joint pains, and skin problems.
- Food sensitivity and digestion issues
- Tiredness that one cannot explain and high levels of fatigue
Here are a few ways how inflammatory PCOS is tested and the results:
- Vitamin D deficiency
- A possibility in DHEA elevation
- Elevated CRP (C-reactive protein)
- ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate)
What triggers this variation of PCOS is yet to be confirmed. The most likely explanation for this variation is a combination of factors, including environmental toxins, stress, genetics, and inflammatory foods.
Inflammatory PCOS can be controlled in certain ways, including:
- Take zinc, magnesium and vitamin D supplements and probiotics.
- Avoid environmental toxins such as burning plastics or inhalation of pesticides and industrial fumes.
- Reducing gluten intake and strictly adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet.
Many women in Australia use the pill as a form of birth control. Post-pill PCOS is a temporal PCOS-like state that occurs when a woman stops taking birth control pills. This variation is not fully recognised by conventional medical experts yet, but it does occur.
However, this does not mean that all women coming off birth control pills will suffer post-pill PCOS. Awareness about this condition is necessary, especially for women considering birth control.
This condition affects many women in Australia who have had normal periods even before getting on the pill. So, how will you know you are suffering from post-pill PCOS?
- You had no symptoms of PCOS before being on birth control
- You now experience PCOS symptoms after coming off the pill
The pill suppresses FSH and LH levels in a woman’s body, causing hypothalamic amenorrhea after one discontinues the pill after prolonged usage. After coming off birth control, one should be careful about a premature PCOS diagnosis.
It would be best to have your FSH and LH levels checked first before concluding whether you are suffering from the disorder.
The main difference is that if it is not a side effect of getting off the pill but actually post-pill PCOS, you will have high levels of LH, which does not lead to hypothalamic amenorrhea.
The best way to control this type of polycystic ovary syndrome is:
Adopting a healthy lifestyle for s few months after discontinuing the pill and will help regulate the body while reducing the risk of getting temporary PCOS. With healthy leaving, your hormones will stabilise after prolonged suppression by the pill.
When to see a doctor
PCOS is a very common hormonal disorder among women. Suppose you experience irregular periods, infertility, or exhibit signs such as acne, male-pattern baldness, or worsening hirsutism caused by excess androgen. In that case, you should visit a doctor.