The Different Types of PCOS

PCOS is a condition which will affect many different aspects in your life. You may find hair in places where it didn’t exist before, struggle to shift unwanted weight and have no set date for when your menstrual cycle starts.

However, PCOS also affects people in different ways. There’s no set list of symptoms when a woman is diagnosed with the condition because there are different types of PCOS, technically known as phenotypes. PCOS in people tends to be identified as the same condition, even though the root cause differs for individuals. For example, your PCOS type could be caused by insulin, meaning you have a particular sensitivity to different things.

This means the treatment a woman with PCOS receives may not work, because their type needs to be tackled alternatively. Therefore, it is vital as a PCOS-sufferer that you know what type of the condition you have, so you can treat it accordingly for a healthier lifestyle.

The Four Types of PCOS

Four types of PCOS have been identified on the spectrum of the condition so far. However, they are often talked about in different ways and it depends what source you’re taking your information from.

The Insulite Health PCOS discusses the 'Rotterdam PCOS phenotype' being as follows:

  1. Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound, high androgen levels and irregular menstrual cycles (also referred to as “PCOS Complete”)
  2. Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound and irregular menstrual cycles
  3. High androgen levels and irregular menstrual cycles
  4. High androgen levels and polycystic ovaries on ultrasound

The four PCOS phenotypes according to another source are:

  1. Type A (Classic PCOS): high androgen levels/androgenic signs, irregular periods/delayed ovulation, polycystic ovaries
  2. Type B (Classic PCOS): high androgen levels/androgenic signs, irregular periods/delayed ovulation, normal ovaries
  3. Type C (Non-Classic PCOS): high androgen levels/androgenic signs, regular periods – 35 days or shorter cycles/ovulation, polycystic ovaries
  4. Type D (Non-Classic PCOS): Normal androgens, irregular periods/delayed ovulation, polycystic ovaries.’

Another source from the same article describes the four PCOS phenotypes as:

  1. Insulin – resistance: elevated insulin, glucose levels, abnormal glucose tolerance test, may have elevated LH
  2. Pill-induced PCOS: the birth control pill suppresses ovulation. Usually ovulation will resume once the pill is discontinued but sometimes it can take months or even years
  3. Inflammatory PCOS: results from chronic immune activation caused by stress, environmental toxins, intestinal permeability and inflammatory foods.
  4. Hidden-cause PCOS: something that’s blocking ovulation like too much soy, thyroid disease, a vegetarian diet, iodine deficiency, artificial sweeteners, low carb diet (she calls it “too little starch”)’

What treatments work best for each type?

Some treatments and lifestyle changes work for the different types of PCOS. The target for all women who suffer with the condition is to stabilise blood sugars, get rid of anything that can affect the endocrine system and improve hormone balance by improving oestrogen levels.

It’s important to take care of yourself and get a good night’s sleep. Eliminate sugar, avoid a high carb diet and exercise often. Try to focus on strength training at the gym.

However, if you have insulin related PCOS, you need to keep an eye on your nutrients and what you’re feeding your body instead.

Although there is no cure for PCOS, there are a lot of methods and lifestyle changes that can deal with the symptoms of the condition. It’s important to identify your type and the treatment options that come with it, as undiagnosed PCOS can lead to more serious issues.



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