So Aunt Flo doesn’t always visit… and although you hardly ever miss her, her sporadic visits or lack-of can get downright annoying and worrisome after a while.
A woman’s body is naturally programmed to release an egg month after month. If this egg is not reunited with its pal, the sperm, then lovely Aunt Flo comes to visit instead. However, poor diet, toxins, and stress can cause traffic jams preventing Aunt Flo from making her planned visit. This type of hold-up can lead to reproductive issues like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, commonly known as PCOS.
This condition is a prominent hormone dysfunction that affects many women of reproductive age. In fact, statistics show that 1 in 10 women have PCOS in North America. (1) Should our health habits not change on a collective level, this number will undoubtedly increase in time.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is when numerous fluid-filled cysts develop on one or both ovaries and male hormones, called androgens, are disproportionately higher than normal (yes, we ladies have male hormones too).
While PCOS sucks, its symptoms aren’t so great either (in case you haven’t already noticed). Symptoms of PCOS include acne/oily skin, weight gain, male pattern hair growth (aka hirsutism), lower abdominal pain, irregular periods and infertility. Overall, its symptoms can leave you feeling pretty crappy and unattractive. (Who wants to be the overweight bearded lady who can’t have kids, right?)
However, PCOS can be a blessing in disguise. It’s your body telling you that something needs to change. It could be that your diet, your toxic environment or how you handle stress just isn’t working for you anymore. Knowing this, YOU have the power to dig deeper and use your PCOS diagnosis as a reason to improve your health.
The 4 Types of PCOS
As per Lara Briden, naturopathic doctor and author of Period Repair Manual, there are 4 types of PCOS. These are important to know because each type is caused by different factors. In order to properly treat your condition, it’s important to know which category you fall under. So here’s a brief summary of each and see which one best resonates with you.
1) Insulin-Resistant (Poor Blood Sugar Management) PCOS
This type of PCOS is by far the most common. Poor blood sugar management causes it. Women who consume a diet high in sugar and processed foods are prone to blood sugar issues. However, if sugar and processed foods aren’t really your forte, you’re not entirely in the clear for this one. Poor sleeping patterns, lack of exercise, and an unresolved magnesium deficiency can also contribute to blood sugar problems.
2) Pill-Induced PCOS or Post-Pill PCOS
The second most common type of PCOS is Pill-Induced or Post Pill PCOS. This is when a woman stops taking the Birth Control Pill (BCP) and later gets diagnosed with PCOS. Although this type of PCOS is not often recognized by the medical industry, it very much exists according to Dr. Briden. This makes total sense –if you really think about it. The pill alters the body’s original hormone levels in order to suppress ovulation… and when the body tries to bounce back, its hormones get out of whack. Surprised? Not really.
3) Inflammatory PCOS
Now this one can definitely overlap with some of the other types of PCOS and is also pretty common from what I’ve seen in practice. Inflammatory PCOS is caused by chronic inflammation. This means long-standing inflammation that’s causing continuous stress on the body. Unaddressed food sensitivities, food/environmental toxin exposure, and everyday stress are common causes for such inflammation.
4) Hidden-Cause PCOS
If none of the above categories applies, then it means there’s another less obvious cause behind the PCOS. It could be something as simple as consuming too much soy – which can mess up estrogen levels in the body. However, working with your alternative health practitioner is the best way to figure this one out. (2)
Now that you’ve read the summaries for each type of PCOS, which one(s) resonate with YOU the most? Are you consuming a diet high in sugar and processed foods? Have you ever taken the Birth Control Pill? Do you have any food sensitivities, like gluten intolerance? Hmmm.
This is all definitely food for thought. Stay tuned – and next time I’ll let you know what YOU can do to treat your PCOS and improve your health once and for all.