3 Types Of PCOS You Never Knew About


Do you know how many women face the challenge of PCOS? According to the CDC, approximately 5 million women, or 6 to 12 percent of reproductive-aged females, struggle with PCOS. These are not just mere statistics but represent countless untold stories of resilience.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, commonly known as PCOS, is believed to result from a hormonal imbalance, giving rise to small cysts in one or both ovaries and potentially complicating pregnancies. However, it’s important to note that having polycystic ovaries doesn’t necessarily mean your hormone levels are abnormal. Conversely, your ovaries might appear normal, but you could still experience hormonal imbalances, such as androgen excess, also associated with PCOS. Some common symptoms of PCOS include unwanted body hair growth, acne, irregular menstruation, and hair thinning.

PCOS can be a precursor to several serious conditions, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and endometrial cancer. Therefore, September marks PCOS Awareness Month to empower individuals with PCOS to manage symptoms and reduce risks for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

There are 3 functional types of PCOS you may be dealing with. Let’s find out about each in detail:

1. Insulin resistance PCOS is the predominant form, affecting approximately 70% of women with PCOS[1].
Cause: Insulin-resistant PCOS occurs when your cells become unresponsive to insulin. Insulin, a hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar, converts sugars from food into energy or stores them for later use. However, in cases of insulin resistance, your body’s ability to use sugar as energy diminishes, leading to its accumulation within cells and causing elevated blood sugar levels. Consequently, insulin levels can rise, which leads to an increase in the production of male sex hormones.

Contributing factors: Factors like excessive sugar consumption, smoking, exposure to environmental toxins, and the consumption of trans-fats cause elevated insulin levels, which hinder ovulation and stimulate excess testosterone production in the ovaries.

Management: Follow these tips to manage insulin resistance PCOS:
-Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity daily to boost insulin sensitivity.
-Get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep to support hormone production.
-Reduce stress through techniques like yoga, meditation, etc.
-Limit sugar consumption.
-Get medication that can enhance insulin sensitivity and overall health.

2.  Inflammatory PCOS results from chronic inflammation[2].
Cause: A chronic inflammation triggers the ovaries to produce testosterone in excess. Common indicators of inflammation include unexplained fatigue, gastrointestinal issues like irritable bowel syndrome, along with symptoms like headache, joint pain, and chronic skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or hives.

Management: Inflammatory PCOS can be taken care of by identifying the root cause and treating it:
-Take prescribed anti-inflammatory medications.
-Identify trigger foods like diary and make necessary dietary changes
-Take measures to enhance your gut health either with the help of diet or supplements like zinc and N-acetyl cysteine.

3. Adrenal PCOS arises from an atypical stress response. It is the least common type of PCOS.
Cause: Usually, prolonged stress triggers elevated levels of DHEA-S, a type of androgen produced by the adrenal glands. DHEA-S levels are not typically included in standard testing, often leading to misdiagnosis of other PCOS types.

Management: Strategies to manage adrenal PCOS include:
-Engage in stress-relieving practices like yoga and meditation.
-Ensure sufficient, quality sleep.
-Opt for moderate-intensity exercise over high-intensity workouts.
-Consider supplements like magnesium, vitamin B5, and vitamin C to promote the health of the adrenal gland and nervous system.

Not spoken about much, Post-pill PCOS is caused when women who are on contraceptive (or birth control) pills stop taking these pills. Birth control pills are known to prevent unwanted pregnancies by suppressing ovulation. This effect remains in place as long as the pills are taken. Upon discontinuation, your ovaries are expected to regain function. Yet, this return to normal ovulation doesn’t occur for some women, leading to a temporary surge in androgens, resulting in pill-induced PCOS. For the majority of women, this effect is temporary and can be managed using certain lifestyle changes like prioritizing quality sleep, reducing stress, or taking anti-androgen supplements such as magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and zinc.

However research is still going on as discontinuing hormonal birth control may trigger symptoms often linked with PCOS, as medical officials differ in their opinion that it cannot induce the development of PCO (Polycystic Ovaries).

PCOS is a complex hormone disorder stemming from various causes. If you’re struggling with PCOS symptoms and are determined to identify the underlying factors and effective management, our doctors are here to assist you in rebalancing your hormones.

Book your consultation with an expert!

(The article is written by Dr.Subita Alagh, Senior Executive, and reviewed by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)

1. Marshall JC, Dunaif A. Should all women with PCOS be treated for insulin resistance? Fertil Steril. 2012 Jan;97(1):18-22. Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277302/
2. Aboeldalyl S, James C, Seyam E, et al. The role of chronic inflammation in polycystic ovarian syndrome-a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Mol Sci. 2021;22(5):2734. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/5/2734

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