Which PCOS type are you?

Women with PCOS share many similar experiences, yet there is quite a bit of variation among the PCOS experience.

Why do women with PCOS have different symptoms? 

Why is there body diversity among the PCOS community if we all have the same condition? 

Will the same medications help everyone? 

The questions are endless!

Research has demonstrated women with PCOS can be separated in four different categories depending on three basic PCOS symptoms:

  • inconsistent and/or lack of ovulation (oligo/anovulation),
  • increased male sex hormones (hyperandrogenism),
  • and the presence of cysts on ovaries (polycystic ovaries).

Yes, you read that correctly, having cysts on your ovaries is not a requirement to having PCOS. One study identified the following four types of PCOS, and these four types have built the foundation for understanding the general differences between women with PCOS:

Oligo/

anovulation

Hyper-

androgenism

Polycystic

ovaries

Classic polycystic ovary PCOS                X                X              X
Classic non-polycystic ovary PCOS                X                X
Non-classic ovulatory PCOS                X              X
Non-classic mild PCOS                X              X

Since these types of PCOS were identified many researchers examined what other symptoms vary between the types.

Want to find a way to treat your PCOS without dieting?

Get Julie’s FREE PCOS Video Training!

The classic polycystic ovary PCOS is the most prevalent type of PCOS, and, unfortunately, it is associated with the most negative health outcomes. People with this type of PCOS are more likely to experience more severe insulin resistance (more on that here). They are also at an increased risk of having unhealthy lipid panels.

All three types of PCOS that have hyperandrogenism are at an increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

There are also hormonal differences between the types. One study found that women with classic polycystic ovary PCOS have higher testosterone levels than the other types.

There have been some studies that compared the body sizes and shapes between the types of women with PCOS. Most studies find that women with the Classic polycystic ovary PCOS are most likely to have larger bodies and carry more weight around the midsection.

Although the research on body diversity and PCOS is super scarce, this is such a great indicator that women with PCOS should not be expected to have a particular body type. I have heard so many people suggest that if there are thin women with PCOS then all women with PCOS should and can be thin. This is false for any population- especially for women with PCOS.

Differentiating between types of PCOS gives me hope for the future of PCOS research. So many people with PCOS feel disappointed with the quality of healthcare of treatment options available.

I hope that by better understanding different PCOS experiences, future treatment options will be more individualized.

Let’s continue this conversation in the Facebook PCOS Support Group. Click here to join! Which type are you? Did that keep you from getting accurately diagnosed?

References

Aziz, M., Sidelmann, J. J., Faber, J., Wissing, M. M., Naver, K. V., Mikkelsen, A., . . .

Skouby, S. O. (2015). Polycystic ovary syndrome: cardiovascular risk factors according to specific phenotypes. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 94, 1082-1089. doi:10.1111/aogs.12706

Clark, N. M., Podolski, A. J., Brooks, E. D., Chizen, D. R., Pierson, R. A., Lehotay, D. C., &

Lujan, M. E. (2014). Prevalence of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Phenotypes Using Updated Criteria for Polycystic Ovarian Morphology. Reproductive Sciences, 21(8), 1034-1043. doi:10.1177/1933719114522525

Hayek, S. E., Bitar, L., Hamdar, L. H., Mirza, F. G., & Daoud, G. (2016). Poly Cystic

Ovarian Syndrome: An Updated Overview. Frontiers in Physiology, 7. doi:10.3389/fphys.2016.00124

Jamil, A. S., Alalaf, S. K., Al-Tawil, N. G., & Al-Shawaf, T. (2015). A case–control

observational study of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome among the

four phenotypes of polycystic ovary syndrome based on Rotterdam criteria. Reproductive Health, 12(1). doi:10.1186/1742-4755-12-7

Jamil, A. S., Alalaf, S. K., Al-Tawil, N. G., & Al-Shawaf, T. (2015). Comparison of clinical

and hormonal characteristics among four phenotypes of polycystic ovary syndrome based on the Rotterdam criteria. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 293(2), 447-456. doi:10.1007/s00404-015-3889-5

Pehlivanov, B., & Orbetzova, M. (2007). Characteristics of different phenotypes of

polycystic ovary syndrome in a Bulgarian population. Gynecological Endocrinology, 23(10), 604-609. doi:10.1080/09513590701536246

Sahmay, S., Atakul, N., Oncul, M., Tuten, A., Aydogan, B., & Seyisoglu, H. (2013).

Serum anti-mullerian hormone levels in the main phenotypes of polycystic ovary syndrome. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 170(1), 157-161. doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2013.05.019

Intuitive eating never works for me. {Ep 86 with Evelyn Tribole}


Have you tried to move away from dieting, but in doing so have started to feel out of control? Are you worried about “letting yourself go?” Do you feel like intuitive eating will just never work for you? Listen now for some thoughts on how to move forward.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my FREE video training: Your First 3 Steps Towards Food Peace with PCOS. Get connected now and be the first to get it when it releases in mid-September. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how. Join our Facebook group to get extra support!

Episode’s Key Points:

  • Diets cause the chaos, and it’s not your fault that moving away from them is so hard!
  • Body positivity doesn’t need to be associated with “letting yourself go” or being overfull! This overfull feeling has to do with DIETING, not body positivity.
  • Evelyn Tribole joins to help us tackle these intuitive eating struggles!!
  • Dealing with overeating when you first start exploring intuitive eating is a common struggle, and it can definitely be worked through! There’s lots of solutions here.
  • The diet industry makes us feel like we’re one bite away from poor health.
  • Remember that the process of intuitive eating and making peace with food is one of discovery and curiosity… there is no way to do it right or wrong!
  • We must connect with the body and become the expert of what own bodies need when we delve into intuitive eating. Clue into what you’re experiencing in your body, rather than in your mind.
  • You can’t make a mistake in intuitive eating! All bumps in the road are a part of the learning process. If you feel overfull, you haven’t done anything wrong! Just explore the experience and discover what is within it.
  • Trust the body, rather than pushing prescriptive rules and decisions. Our bodies have been silenced, and intuitive eating gives them a voice!
  • Interceptive awareness: the ability to perceive the feelings that arise in the body, both physical and emotional (all emotional feelings have a physical response!). Tapping into these feelings can help you get your needs met.
  • How do we move from shame or guilt to curiosity? Pause, and figure out what belief system we believe we’ve violated. Write down the thoughts and rules that we believe we are breaking.
  • Belief systems take a while to break down!
  • Treat your body as an experiment! Allow intuitive eating to guide you to become an expert of your body again.
  • Surround yourself with resources that promote self-kindness!!
  • Intuitive eating research is strong. There is a body of evidence that shows intuitive eating is health promoting!
  • Intuitive eating is getting more popular in the media… but most main news sites that cover intuitive eating focus on permission to eat, and forget about the rest of the 10 principles. We have to make sure that when people learn about intuitive eating, they learn about what it truly is in its totality!
  • When we take away the guilt and judgment around eating, we make room for satisfaction.
  • You are NOT alone!
  • The steps out of this tug-of-war will be challenging, but they will be worth it.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series.

Help me make peace with food while losing weight.


Are you trying to make peace with food, but still trying to lose weight? Do you want to know if there is a way to pursue weight loss AND heal your relationship with food? Are you struggling with what you see as an addiction to food? Listen now to hear my insights on this complicated food peace issue.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my PCOS summer series: Empowering Your PCOS Journey. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how. This series and our Facebook group will be with you every step of the way.

Episode’s Key Points:

  • The pursuit of weight loss CANNOT be combined with making peace with food… so now what??
  • Thinking about food addiction leads to issues with food preoccupation. We NEED food to survive and thrive! We shouldn’t pathologize the desire for food.
  • There isn’t ONE diet that, for most people, can help maintain weight loss for more than two years. In fact, most dieters regain all their lost weight, plus more, within five years. Dieting predicts weight gain!!
  • Ancel Keys’ Minnesota Starvation Experiment: strong and fit men were fed half of the amount of nutrition they needed. Eventually these men became depressed and food preoccupied, and experienced a decrease in libido and in interest in extracurricular activities.
  • Weight loss pursuits promote restriction, and restriction leads to food preoccupation… so we can’t pursue weight loss without it resulting in food preoccupation.
  • Remember, even if you decide to leave dieting and intentional weight loss behind, it will still take TIME to end your struggles with food preoccupation. Make sure you have a team behind you to support your healing!
  • We live in such a fatphobic world! It’s important that we break down our own internal biases related to fatness, and face our own fat discrimination.
  • What is really behind the fear of fat? Explore that to figure out what’s really behind the obsession with weight loss, and to discover what’s keeping you stuck in disordered eating patterns.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series.

I don’t know how to stop dieting.


Are you ready to leave dieting behind, but are too afraid to make that final leap and embrace intuitive eating? Are you looking for a way out, but aren’t sure where to turn? Listen now to hear some great tips to transition into this part of the food peace journey.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my PCOS summer series: Empowering Your PCOS Journey. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how. This series and our Facebook group will be with you every step of the way.

Episode’s Key Points:

  • Diets don’t work, and losing weight doesn’t actually fix any of our problems!
  • Dieting = MISERY!
  • Healthy eating includes pleasure! If a certain eating pattern HURTS, then it’s definitely a diet, and it’s definitely not health promoting.
  • We give food way too much power and brain space… we should only really have to think about food when it’s meal time! Food preoccupation can lead to unhealthy eating behaviors.
  • Compassion is key! It’s super common to avoid “healthy” or “diet” foods like fruits and veggies, or to overeat when you first abandon dieting and restriction, all in an effort to overcompensate and make sure you don’t fall back into disordered behaviors. So if you catch yourself engaging in these behaviors, just be kind and understanding to yourself. This is all a part of the mess of figuring out your own internal hunger, fullness, and satiety cues. And it won’t last forever!
  • This is a PROCESS! Food peace isn’t a fast journey.
  • Be curious about your eating behavior rather than judgmental. This will allow you to uncover the root of your food preoccupation!
  • You may have to think about food a lot when you first start the intuitive eating journey, but this won’t last. Think about learning how to drive or riding a bike… you have to think about it at first, but once you get it, it’s intuitive.
  • If jumping into intuitive eating still feels too scary, try experimenting with check-in times instead! Set an alarm so that you can check in with your hunger every three-ish hours throughout the day, every day. Make sure your check-in times go all the way until you’re asleep, and do an intentional body scan to check in with your hunger, fatigue, and other bodily needs. Eventually, this will get you into the habit of checking in with yourself consistently, but not obsessively.
  • Making peace with food is HARD, especially because we live in a world that hasn’t recovered yet. Find a dietitian and/or therapist, group therapy, or an online course to help you on this journey!

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series.

What is PCOS really?

This special PCOS series written by nutrition grad student Kimberly Singh aims to help you understand PCOS, improve your relationship with food, and advocate for better care. She experiences PCOS too and gets the struggle.

 

What is PCOS?

PCOS is one of the most common endocrine disorders in women, creating a hormonal imbalance that leads to a variety of symptoms. Women with PCOS tend to have high levels of insulin and androgens (like testosterone), causing symptoms that affect their overall health, fertility, appearance, and metabolism.

What causes PCOS?

PCOS seems to be related to a combination of environmental factors and genetics. There are both maternal and paternal genetic links to PCOS. I was surprised when I linked my PCOS to my father’s female relatives.

Environmental factors that affect PCOS include geographic location, exposure to industrial products, and changes to the food system. Agricultural changes that affect the food system may also influence the development of PCOS. Some environmental factors are out of your control, and I know this can feel frustrating.

As I have learned about the environmental factors that influence my PCOS, I can understand how to better nourish my body through what I can control. I look forward to sharing how changes in the food system affect PCOS.

Want to find a way to treat your PCOS without dieting? Get Julie’s FREE Road Map: Your First 3 Steps Toward Food Peace with PCOS.

Did my weight cause my PCOS?

Nope. Your weight did not cause your PCOS. A lot of health-related guilt can surround existing at a higher weight, but numerous studies show that weight gain does not cause PCOS. 

Should I wait to worry about my PCOS when/if I want to get pregnant?

You may not want to have children now or ever, but you can still manage your PCOS. PCOS affects more than just your fertility. It’s associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, anxiety, depression, and endometrial cancer. PCOS can also influence your cravings and how your body uses energy from food. Managing your PCOS can improve your overall health and energy regardless of if you are trying to get pregnant.

Is there a cure for PCOS?

There is not a cure for PCOS. This may seem scary, and you may be wondering if there is a special secret remedy to get rid of PCOS forever. The Internet may try to sell you on a special diet or remedy, and it may seem appealing, but I know you won’t fall for it!

Although there is not a cure for PCOS, there are many ways to manage it. In addition to various types of treatment, there are lots of changes you can make to your lifestyle in order to manage your PCOS.

A lifestyle change-I’m sure you have heard this before.

Suggesting a lifestyle change is usually accompanied by a friendly spiel about diet and exercise. Although nutrition and movement are important components of managing PCOS, there are many other aspects of your life! These may include learning ways to manage stress, build support, advocate for your needs, and, perhaps most importantly, how to listen to your body.

Stay tuned to learn more about these in future posts. Growing in these areas can help you manage PCOS.

In my experience, using a wholesome approach to managing PCOS helps me feel like I’m working with my PCOS, not against it.

It helps me work in sync with my body, and I hope it helps you do the same.

Let’s continue this conversation in the Facebook PCOS Support Group. Click here to join! Who in your family experiences PCOS too? Suspect someone else does yet never diagnosed? Wonder if best to let them know so they can get help too?

References

Diamanti-Kandarakis, E., Christakou, C., & Marinakis, E. (2012). Phenotypes and Enviromental Factors: Their Influence in PCOS. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 18(3), 270-282. doi:10.2174/138161212799040457

Dumesic, D. A., Oberfield, S. E., Stener-Victorin, E., Marshall, J. C., Laven, J. S., & Legro, R. S. (2015). Scientific Statement on the Diagnostic Criteria, Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Molecular Genetics of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Endocrine Reviews, 36(5), 487-525. doi:10.1210/er.2015-1018

Hayek, S. E., Bitar, L., Hamdar, L. H., Mirza, F. G., & Daoud, G. (2016). Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome: An Updated Overview. Frontiers in Physiology, 7. doi:10.3389/fphys.2016.00124

Merkin, S. S., Phy, J. L., Sites, C. K., & Yang, D. (2016). Environmental determinants of polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertility and Sterility, 106(1), 16-24. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2016.05.011

Polycystic ovary syndrome. (n.d.). Retrieved May 29, 2017, from https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html