The 4 Types of PCOSJun 14, 2019
Did you know there are different types of PCOS?
In fact, there's 4 sub-types, although you're unlikely to hear anything about them in your doctor's office.
The reason you want to know which type of PCOS you have, is so you know what you can do about it!
Each kind of polycystic ovarian syndrome has a different underlying cause and therefore a different approach should be taken for managing it.
The different types of PCOS
As discussed in this post, the problem with PCOS isn’t actually the polycystic ovaries. The problem is irregular ovulation or anovulation.
Once you know the reason you aren’t ovulating, you can focus on fixing the underlying imbalance to restore your period.
Let's break the sub-types down.
1.Insulin Resistant PCOS
This is the most common kind of PCOS and may account for up to 70% of women with PCOS.
Insulin is a hormone that tells your cells to ‘open up’ and take in glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream.
With insulin resistance, your body is less responsive to insulin’s message so sugar isn’t efficiently moved into your cells and your blood sugar levels stay high.
But, having high blood sugar is dangerous, so your pancreas creates more insulin to lower your blood sugar levels.
The elevated insulin levels are what stop’s ovulation and stimulates the ovaries to produce testosterone.
It’s well known that too much sugar in the diet leads to insulin resistance but sugar isn't the only thing that causes insulin resistance.
- Trans fats interfere with insulin receptors.
- Smoking can also cause insulin resistance because the nicotine in cigarettes causes your cells to stop responding to insulin.
- Lastly, environmental toxins such as BPA and phthalates have also been shown to cause insulin resistance.
Do you fit the profile for Insulin Resistant PCOS?
- You’ve been told you’re ‘borderline diabetic’ by your GP.
- You crave sugar and feel light-headed or dizzy if you don’t eat for a few hours.
- Your insulin levels are elevated and you may have high levels of luteinising hormone (LH).
- You might be overweight.
- But if you’re normal weight, you might have a history of extreme dieting or an eating disorder.
If this sounds like you here are some ideas to help:
- Start by quitting sugar. Some fructose from whole fresh fruit is considered healthy but no dessert-type foods, no fruit juices and no honey or dates.
- Try gentle intermittent fasting. This can be as simple as consuming all of your daily food within an 8-hour window.
- Prioritise your sleep because insufficient sleep increases insulin resistance! Aim for a minimum of 7 hours each night.
- Exercising improves insulin resistance although the benefits are short-lived so the key is regular exercise. A 30-60 minute brisk walk is all that is required to see benefits, although high-intensity interval training and lifting weights show to be even more beneficial.
Supplements to consider are inositol, magnesium and berberine.
Healing from insulin-resistant PCOS doesn’t happen overnight because you didn’t develop the condition overnight! Allow 6-9 months for your period to normalise. If you want help to fast track this, make an appointment here.
Post Birth Control PCOS
As the name suggests, hormonal birth control can cause PCOS because it stops you from ovulating.
While you're taking the synthetic hormones, your ovaries stop communicating with your pituitary gland.
For some women who quit the pill, this communication doesn’t go back to normal and they continue to not ovulate.
Do you fit the Post Birth Control PCOS profile?
- You’ve recently stopped hormonal birth control and your period hasn’t come back.
- You probably suffer from acne
- Your blood tests might show elevated levels of luteinising hormone (LH) and prolactin.
If this sounds like you, start here:
- Give your body time. Allow 3-4 months for your hormones to rebalance and find their own rhythms again.
- Read my post about going off the pill.
- Look into supplementing with vitex or a combination of peony & licorice (it's important you have your hormones tested before using these).
- Ensure you're eating enough calories with plenty of healthy fats.
Once your body has healed, most women find their period returns promptly and permanently. But you will need to be patient in the beginning.
This type of PCOS is caused by chronic inflammation or an overactive immune system.
Common sources of inflammation are stress, leaky gut, environmental toxins and a diet high in inflammatory foods.
Inflammation is an important part of our immune system but too much can stop ovulation, interfere with hormone receptors and stimulate both the adrenal glands and ovaries to secrete androgens.
Do you fit the Inflammatory PCOS profile?
- You show other signs of immune dysfunction such as joint pain, recurrent infections, headaches and skin conditions.
- You have multiple food sensitivities or your blood tests might show gluten antibodies.
- Your blood tests might also show an abnormal blood count, a Vitamin D deficiency, thyroid antibodies or elevated C-reactive protein (CRP).
Ideas to help with Inflammatory PCOS:
- Really focus on gut health
- Start using probiotics and drinking bone broth daily.
- Eliminate inflammatory foods, starting with sugar, gluten, dairy & alcohol.
- Remove environmental toxins such as perfumes, plastic food containers, pesticides and conventional personal care products. Go low tox!
- Supplements to consider are magnesium, berberine and zinc.
This type of PCOS is caused by stress.
DHEAS is only produced in the adrenal glands so this is used as a marker for adrenal androgen secretion.
Do you fit the Adrenal PCOS profile?
- You’re highly stressed but you aren’t insulin resistant, you haven’t just stopped hormonal birth control, you don’t have any signs of inflammation and your ovarian androgens are normal.
- You might exercise too much and don’t eat enough
- Chances are you’re a perfectionist or high achiever and you don’t get enough sleep.
If you fit this profile, start here:
- Reduce your stress. Easier said than done, I know. I bet your felt some resistance as you read ‘reduce stress’. Am I right?! If you want to heal, there’s no way around it. Start here.
- Get a minimum of 7 hours sleep every night
- Ensure you are eating plenty of carbs (not sugar).
- Consider supplementing with magnesium, zinc and a B Vitamin complex.
Still confused about what type of PCOS you have?
Because this syndrome is an intricate mix of symptoms and possible causes, there is some overlap between the types.
However, using the information above you should have a pretty good idea of which subtype you think applies.
If you’d like to work 1:1 with me, I offer private, relaxed and judgement free video calls. Click here for more info.
*this post was updated May 2020
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