The Truth About PCOS
Contradictory to what is believed, PCOS is not one condition, it is instead a set of symptoms. If you know what type of PCOS you have you are more able to find the suitable treatment.
Not all women experience the same symptoms, such as insulin resistance, acne, excessive hair growth or hair loss, and the reason is because there is not one type of PCOS. Each type of PCOS has it's own symptoms. Believing that there is no one type of PCOS slows down the diagnosis process but also effects the treatment route.
Furthermore, it is important to note that without undertaking the relevant tests, such as blood test to examine whether testosterone levels are high, a PCOS should not be accepted.
PCOS being described as one condition is far from the truth. This may surprise you, but there are actually more than type of PCOS!
Types of PCOS
Insulin - Resistant PCOS
This is the most common type of PCOS. High insulin levels cause Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) to spike. It is too much insulin that causes the ovaries to produce excess amounts of testosterone. This in turn is what causes ovulatory problems, such as irregular periods and infertility.
Research suggests lean women who have PCOS can also suffer from insulin resistance, elevated androgens findings demonstrate that women with PCOS who are normal weight or thin respond to a reduction in insulin release. This is consistent with the observation that although these women are not obese, they nonetheless tend to have an increased waist to hip ratio and are insulin resistant and hyperinsulinemic compared to their normal counterpart.
Insulin resistance is caused by poor diet and lifestyle, excess sugar, trans fat,
smoking and environmental toxins and obesity.
Treatment for this type of PCOS includes, resistance training and HIIT. However even walking has been shown to help with lowering blood sugar levels.
Avoid sugar, which includes processed, high GI foods such as white bread and white rice. Weight loss can also help.
Nutrients that can help are; fish oil, chromium, vitamin D, magnesium, and polyphenols found in cocoa. Moreover, intermittent fasting has shown to improve insulin sesnsitivty.
The ovary is not only where androgens are released, it is estimated that 20-30% of women with PCOS have adrenal androgen excess. Androgens are also released from our Adrenals.
Cortisol, one of the primary stress hormones, is released by the adrenal glands. The stress hormone is triggered as a result of the fight-or-flight response.
During the fight-or-flight response, cortisol increases blood sugar (the source of energy needed to survive) and shuts down anything within the body that is unnecessary, such as reproductive functions. The surge in blood sugar caused by the increase in cortisol also leads to an increase in insulin. This in turn results in elevated cortisol and insulin levels, leading to fat storage.
Stress causes the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine, along with 3 androgen hormones; DHEA, testosterone and androstenedione. Research has also found that DHEA can be converted into Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is what causes hair loss and hair thinning in women with PCOS (7).
Treatment; Reduce stress and partake in less intense exercise such as yoga, walking and swimming.
Inflammation - based PCOS
Inflammatory PCOS is caused by exposure to environmental toxins, foods such as dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) and gluten. Studies have shown consumption of A1 Casein was associated with increased gastrointestinal inflammation.
Excess stress is also a key cause of inflammation.
Treatment; Reduce stress and exposure to endocrine disruptors such as pesticides, cans and plastics. Cut out the inflammatory foods such as dairy, wheat, and sugar. Supplement with magnesium, as research has shown it to reduce inflammation.
Synthetic Hormone - induced PCOS or Pill - Induced PCOS
The purpose of the Birth Control Pill is to suppress ovulation. Women who have been on the Birth Control Pill or other synthetic hormones for several years, who then decide to come off often, find that their periods do not return. Most women, however, find this effect to be temporary, yet others find their periods not do not return for months or even years. It is important to know all the facts and be sure about the Birth Control Pill before you decide to start it.
Hidden Cause - PCOS
This type of PCOS is caused as a result of something blocking ovulation. Knowing what it is and addressing it can help ovulation return. The hidden causes are:
– Thyroid disease. Low levels of thyroid hormone can interfere with the release of an egg from your ovary.
– Vegetarian and Vegan diet. A vegetarian diet can cause vitamin deficiencies. Supplement with Vitamin B12, Zinc and Omega 3.
– Iodine deficiency, because your ovaries need iodine. Consult with your doctor before supplementing with iodine.
– Artificial sweeteners, research suggests that artificial sweeteners cause an insulin spike.
– Avoid eating too much soy. Soy is a phytoestrogen and research has shown that phytoestrogens have anti - estrogen effects. Studies have shown over consumption of phytoestrogens, such as soy, can reduce the occurrence of ovulation in some women.
– Not eating enough starchy carbohydrates. Our hormones need some carbohydrates, without sufficient glucose the liver struggles to convert T4 to T3. Moreover, a moderate consumption of carbohydrates ensures leptin levels increase enough to indicate to the hypothalamus that the body is being fed. Leptin is needed for reproductive function.
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