What Are The 4 Types of PCOS?
Signs, Symptoms, and Support
Polycystic ovary syndrome, known as PCOS, affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.
While typically identified by infertility, irregular periods, and the presence of ovarian cysts, it's important to understand what PCOS is, and what it isn't.
PCOS is not a condition that causes cysts on your ovaries. This is a potential symptom, but should not be the main reason for diagnosis. PCOS is a common endocrine disorder where your body has an androgen excess, an excess of male sex hormones like testosterone.
There are 4 types of PCOS. Understanding each of these 4 types and how they affect your hormones is crucial to helping yourself get well.
The 4 different types of PCOS are inflammatory PCOS, insulin-resistant PCOS, adrenal PCOS, and post-pill PCOS.
Keep reading for some general information on PCOS and then a breakdown of each type, how to know if you have that type, and how to support your body.
General PCOS Symptoms
You are likely looking into PCOS due to general symptoms or a medical diagnosis. It's important to recognize that all 4 types of PCOS come with the possibility of any of the general symptoms of it.
You could have some or all of the following:
- Missed or irregular periods
- Ovaries that are large or have cysts
- Weight gain, particularly around the abdomen
- Excess body hair (including chest, stomach, and back)
- Male-pattern baldness or thinning
- Acne or oily skin
- Skin tags (small pieces of excess asking, particularly on the neck or in armpits)
- Dark or thick patches of skin on the back of the neck or under armpits or breasts
A general diagnosis of PCOS can be helpful and get you started on your journey to better health, but there is much more to PCOS than meets the eye.
What Is Inflammatory PCOS?
Chronic inflammation can stimulate your ovaries to produce too much testosterone. This inhibits your ovary's ability to produce progesterone, suppressing ovulation as a result.
Inflammation is an immune response that happens when your immune system attacks foreign things in your body. When this immune response gets triggered by things that should be fine in your body, it can actually start attacking the body itself.
This immune response causes inflammation, which can cause multiple symptoms such as:
- Brain fog
- Joint pain
- Skin issues, like eczema
- Bowel issues, like IBS.
Causes of inflammation could be a combination of any of these factors:
- Food sensitivities
- Environmental toxins.
How Do You Know If You Have Inflammatory PCOS?
Because chronic inflammation can be a contributing factor for all types of PCOS, it's important to know if it's the main factor.
Ruling out the other types of PCOS is part of that process, but you can also look at your CRP (c-reactive protein) levels. If they are over 5, then you know that your body is having an immune response to inflammation.
Also, look for low levels of vitamin D and progesterone but elevated androgens. If these are all present without the indicators of insulin resistance or birth control usage, then you most likely have inflammatory PCOS.
How to Support Inflammatory PCOS
The key to supporting inflammatory PCOS is to reduce the source of inflammation. It is hard to know what exact foods may be causing inflammation, but cutting out foods that are high in fat and/or sugar is a really good start. If you feel that you need further help finding what your body is specifically fighting, look into finding a nutritionist.
It is also important to focus on optimizing your gut health. Healing any leaky gut issues and balancing your gut bacteria will help your body be able to fight inflammation and start healing.
Supplements such as probiotics and turmeric help your body reduce and fight inflammation. Both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients are important for healing inflammation in the body.
Check out the KoWell supplement's ingredients list for information on our antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
What Is Insulin-Resistant PCOS?
Insulin-resistant PCOS is characterized by the ability to produce insulin, but not use it, and the body develops high levels of insulin or hyperinsulinemia.
High levels of insulin tell your body that you need more testosterone, so your ovaries produce more testosterone and luteinizing hormone (which also increases testosterone).
Insulin-resistant PCOS is the most common type, affecting around 70% of those who have PCOS according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Those diagnosed with this type are often considered prediabetic or dealing with Type 2 diabetes.
How Do You Know If You Have Insulin-Resistant PCOS?
Abnormal glucose tests or lab work that shows you are borderline diabetic are signs that you have insulin-resistant PCOS. If there is still uncertainty, ask for a fasting blood test to check your insulin numbers, as opposed to just glucose.
In addition to potential similar symptoms of inflammatory PCOS, you may also experience:
- Abdominal weight gain
- Sugar cravings
- Worsening brain fog or fatigue, especially after eating sugar
It's also important to note that you are more likely to see these symptoms of high androgens when combined with high insulin:
- Excess facial hair
- Male pattern hair loss
How to Support Insulin-Resistant PCOS
If you are insulin resistant, it is important to focus on reducing your blood sugar and insulin numbers. You accomplish this with a low-sugar, low-carb, balanced diet. Focusing on eating well, and reducing sugar intake is a long, slow road. Make sure to give this plenty of time.
While improving your diet, also begin to work on moving your body more. Consistent exercise will help your body burn sugars and fat and build muscle, improving your metabolism and ability to use insulin.
Supplementing your diet with Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, Chromium, Zinc and Inositol can help support your body through this change.
What Is Adrenal PCOS?
While adrenal PCOS may have similar symptoms to the other types, it is due to an abnormal stress response. Your endocrine system, which includes your adrenal gland and your ovaries, is what tries to keep all your hormones balanced.
Your adrenal glands are responsible for regulating your body's stress response. In this case, it is the adrenal gland, not the ovaries, that is stimulated to produce androgens.
How Do You Know If You Have Adrenal PCOS?
DHEA-S is a type of androgen produced in the adrenal glands. When you have adrenal PCOS, your body overproduces cortisol and DHEA-S. The usual androgens, such as testosterone, will actually have normal levels.
You may have to specifically request testing for DHEA-S through an endocrinologist.
How to Support Adrenal PCOS
To help support your body with adrenal PCOS, you need to mitigate stress as much as you can. Practice stress management with yoga, meditation, mindfulness, or journaling. Make sure to practice good sleep hygiene and get plenty of good, restful sleep. Minimize stress to your body by avoiding environmental toxins, emotional triggers, and high-intensity workouts.
Avoid caffeine from coffee, tea, or soda. It is a stimulant that will disrupt your sleep cycle and make it more difficult for your body to heal.
Supplements such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B5, Vitamin D and Rhodiola Rosea can help support your adrenal and nervous systems.
What Is Post-Pill PCOS?
Sometimes women will develop PCOS after getting off of birth control pills. This is more common with pills that use synthetic progestins. After you stop taking the pill and your body no longer has that crutch, it goes crazy producing androgens.
Starting the pills again may stop the symptoms, but they will come back if you stop taking the pills again.
How Do You Know If You Have Post-Pill PCOS?
If symptoms develop 3-6 months after you get off of birth control pills and you are not insulin resistant, then you most likely have post-pill PCOS. You can experience the typical high-level androgen symptoms, even if you never had them before taking birth control.
How to Support Post-Pill PCOS
This type of PCOS is temporary but still takes time to recover from.
Be patient and focus on:
- Stress management
- Sleep management
- Good nutrition
Supplements such as Vitamin E, probiotics, and zinc can help support your body.
How Knowell’s Nutritional Supplement Can Help the 4 Types of PCOS
There are good practices such as eating better, good sleep, and stress management that can help all 4 types of PCOS. Having a good supplement to help support those health goals is an important piece that can make all the difference.
At Knowell, our formula blends 28 amazing ingredients designed to help support a women's body and PCOS journey. Having help balancing your hormones can help your body be healthier and stronger.Try Knowell’s supplement today