Syndrome X and PCOS

A quick briefer for those of you not in the know:

Syndrome X, also known as Metabolic Syndrome and pre-Diabetes, is a condition where a person is beginning to produce more than the normal amounts of insulin because their body no longer responds as well to it. It manifests with central obesity (fat around the waist as opposed to the hips), high blood pressure, heart disease, and a few other lovely symptoms.

PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome) occurs when a woman’s ovaries are covered in cysts because developing eggs don’t mature to release, but slowly degrade and are absorbed back into the body. That’s the main symptom doctors look for. Other symtoms include late, missing, or prolonged periods, infertility, facial hair, male pattern balding, obesity, acne, skin tags, and acanthosis nigricans.

Lucky me, I have them both.

That’s the background. Here’s the question, for the medical types:

Last time I saw my GP, it was a new lady. Very smart. I liked her. She focused more on my weight, my blood sugar, and my insulin than anything else. As we reviewed my meds, I mentioned my diagnosis of PCOS, and she said “Syndrome X, PCOS, both the same thing.”

Is this true?

Not that I really doubt her. It makes a lot of sense that PCOS is just how Syndrome X manifests itself in women. I’m just wondering if the medical community has actually drawn that conclusion. The last I heard was that there was an established correlation between the two, not causation.

I’m curious.

Although my reproductive endocrinologist uses the term “insulin resistance” instead of “Syndrome X”, the impression I have gotten is that PCOS was the diagnosis used when MDs were only really aware of that aspect of the syndrome, but that the insulin resistance, more recently discovered, may be what underlies the syndrome itself. The polycystic ovaries were more easily seen, so the cluster of symptoms was named after that one prominent symptoms.

Oddly enough, in my case, I never has the classic polycystic ovaries, but was diagnosed with PCOS anyway. Many years later, when they knew what to look for, I was found to have insulin resistance.