It has been discovered that there is more than one type of PCOS.
According to recent studies there are 5, to be exact. Not only is this exciting news because Scientists and Doctors are making advancement in the understanding of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, but because they have finally realized that it is a HUGE issue and it is worth researching. It is now being said that PCOS affects closer to 10-20% of the female population, opposed to the former 5-10%. Sounds to me like it is finally getting the recognition it needs and deserves!
Although there are currently five types of PCOS, there are two main types, with the others stemming off of them. I will go over the two most common, and mildly mention the other three.
Type I – Insulin Resistant Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
This is the most prevalent version of PCOS, with the most common symptoms. I am also one of the lucky ladies who gets to say she is part of this group. At least I get to be number 1 at something…
Most women with Insulin Resistance can expect to experience weight gain, unwanted hair loss and hair growth, acne, infertility, anovulatory cycles, and heck, maybe no menstrual cycles at all. It also can lead to type II diabetes, which is never a good time. Unfortunately all of these symptoms are in a big, (hairy), vicious cycle. Where one symptom leads to the next. And you can’t get rid of said symptom without fixing the one before it.
There are several ways to treat PCOS, though there is no way to cure it. Some women may be prescribed birth control to help balance hormones and menstrual cycles. They may also be given a drug called Metformin to aid in regulating insulin levels. But, the best thing women can do to get all of these horrible symptoms under control, is to lose weight. Being at a healthy BMI will lower the testosterone levels, and will help with the Insulin sensitivity. Unfortunately, losing weight is easier said than done when dealing with this form of PCOS. Although it will be difficult, it is NOT impossible. For me, setting a goal always helps. Buying my wedding dress, wanting a baby, and gaining self-confidence are three things that I have been using to really motivate myself. What are you working towards?
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Type II – Hidden Cause PCOS
This type of PCOS is quite different from the first. For women without Insulin Resistance, there may be no physical symptoms at all. Though there is no evidence on the outside, the Endocrine disorder is still wreaking havoc on the inside. These women may still have difficulty getting pregnant, abnormal menstrual cycles, and an imbalance of hormones such as testosterone. This type of PCOS is more likely to be caused by a deficiency in particular vitamins, thyroid diseases, and hormonal toxins, to name a few.
Because of the causes, the “treatment” will be more of a natural route than that of the Insulin Resistance ladies. After having blood work, you may be instructed to take specific vitamins, if it is shown that you have a deficiency (commonly Iodine, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Magnesium). Your Dr. may also advise you to take a natural form of Progesterone, if needed, to help with ovulation and balancing hormones.
The three other types of PCOS stem off of the main two, with symptoms from both.
Type III – Post Pill PCOS
This type is caused by just what the name suggests. Women who have been on birth control long-term come off of it, and their bodies have no idea how to respond. While on birth control, synthetic hormones are being pumped into our bodies. Once that stops, it’s almost as though our bodies forget how to produce them naturally. It may then be a woman’s experience that menstrual cycles are absent, and a healthy pregnancy may be difficult to obtain. This, in my opinion, is terrifying!
Type IV – Inflammatory PCOS
This type of PCOS is caused by environmental toxins, stress, and food allergies (such as gluten). This can cause complications with ovulation, imbalances of hormones, headaches, pain in joints, etc. The best way to eliminate symptoms is by removing any inflammatory foods (wheat, dairy, sugar), and to take any supplements recommended by your Doctor.
And last but not least we have,
Type V – Hirtsutism
These women generally have no issues with insulin, can ovulate naturally with no trouble getting pregnant, but have elevated testosterone levels. They can expect to have an increase of unwanted hair, and a loss of hair on the top of the head.
So, to sum it all up, all five types of PCOS suck. The good news is that it is finally being researched, and it is certainly beginning to be taken seriously. Hopefully we will some day know what is ultimately causing it, and what we can do to prevent it.
Stay strong, my PCOS ladies!
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Some good sources: