What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a very complicated disorder to diagnose. Every case is different. I run a support on an adult website for ladies with PCOS and let me tell you – after surveying them, I learned that each case is so different. When I was diagnosed back in 2009, there wasn’t much information available, not like now.
The basic explanation is that PCOS is a hormonal disorder. Some research has said it primarily affects women over thirty who haven’t given child birth. But I disagree just from the women I’ve spoken with.
Many women have insulin resistance problems that result in severe weight gain. The problem with PCOS is that is messes with our androgen levels (male hormones).
What happens to your body with PCOS?
My doctor explained this to me last year after an ultrasound. While I didn’t have cysts on my ovaries, we found that my ovaries were producing too many follicles. These follicles would normally mature into an egg that is released to help a women become fertile.
When a follicle doesn’t mature, no egg is released. This results in upsetting the balance in hormones and resulting in some nasty side effects and symptoms. The science here is beyond me – but let me tell you, this whole process is painful.
- Obesity – unexplained weight gain unable to lose weight despite eating clean and exercising
- Thinning of hair on top of the head while excess body hair grows elsewhere – hair often appears dark and coarse. Some women may have lots of facial hair.
- Adult acne – because I don’t have enough problems in life already.
- Severe stomach problems including symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome
- Extreme pain with monthly cycles when they do finally hit that can also result in anemia
- Very irregular cycles
- Polycystic ovaries (but not necessarily)
For complete list of symptoms visit: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439
Complications from having PCOS
- Infertility or miscarriages
- Heart disease
- Diabetes from insulin resistance
Diagnosis for PCOS
Diagnosis for me took a lot of visits to specialists and multiple tests. I finally saw an OBGYN in 2009 and she was the one who diagnosed me with the disorder when I gave her my medical history.
A vaginal ultrasound will be ordered by your physician. Regular pap smears and blood tests to test your hormone levels are crucial. Knowing your family history is crucial. PCOS is often linked to patients from families where diabetes or heart disease runs high. PCOS is also linked to a similar condition called endometriosis. If any women in your family have a history of hormonal disorders, you may be at risk as well.
Link between early development and PCOS
In a recent group discussion, I learned that early signs of PCOS can be young girls who develop very early – earlier than most of their classmates. Developing large breasts at an early age can be a sign of hormonal disorders.
For me, I definitely started showing signs early on in life. I remember getting very painful cramps when I was just 11 or 12. My mom had no idea what was wrong. I started getting migraines around fourteen years of age. I never had acne at all as a teen – that didn’t start until I developed rosacea in my twenties.
I cannot get pregnant. That’s a definite no for me. I’ve come to terms with it. I lucked out on things like facial hair, losing hair on my head. I’m also diabetes free and have a good heart. So, some things are working for me.
How PCOS can impact your life
Other symptoms that can come with PCOS are brutal.
Hot flashes: I had my first hot flash last night that I’ve had in years. This comes with severe sweating, nausea and the feeling like you’re going to pass out. It also closely mimics a panic attack.
Depression: since your hormones are often out of whack, depression is a common side effect of living with PCOS. Depression can also be a result from the physical aspects of PCOS like adult acne.
Weight gain: if you’re like me, and you struggle with weight gain despite eating clean, you may want to consider switching to whole foods or a lower carb diet. I’m still working on this for me. But with weight loss back in 2009- sixty pounds – I managed to keep the weight off for nearly four years and felt amazing.
Isolation: combine the weight gain, with depression and stress from general life, and many women with PCOS tend to isolate themselves. This can lead to further depression. This is where we are at right now in my life. I’ve hit rock bottom. It’s 2014 all over again for me.
Birth control: for most women with PCOS, treatment can be as simple as taking birth control. If you’re like me with a clotting disorder, this is a huge no. Other women swear by Mireda or IUV treatments.
Full or partial hysterectomies: I’ve known several women who opted for the surgery and they said it was the best decision they ever made. They’ve been able to lose weight and most of their symptoms cleared up soon after surgery. The dangers of surgery is being suspect to repeat infections. A hysterectomy is the surgical process of removing all or parts of the uterus.
Hormone Replacement Therapy: in order to restore balance for your hormones, you may wish to talk to your doctor about HRT. I was on this back in 2014 and it really messed with my psyche. I did not like the side effects at all. But I fear this is my only option going for a few months. I think the problem with mine is my dosage was too high. I’m definitely talking to my doctor about this today.
There is help out there.
If you’ve been newly diagnosed with PCOS, there is help out there. You can follow my blog. I’ll be speaking more openly about my experiences as my medical journey continues. I’m now in a place I can do this – speak freely and frankly.
Last night was one of the worst nights of my life and I contemplated going to the ER for the pain. Luckily, I got some sleep. I think my clean eating plan will help greatly reduce some new symptoms. These include – depression, anxiety and night terrors and nightmares – stress dreams.
I’ll be taking some time off my day job to focus on health. I hope to be able to write on a daily basis to share my experience with you. I’m looking for alternatives for the future.
But for, now, I’m just thinking about how to get through today.
So, for those following – and have been with me on this journey so far – thank you for sticking around. Yes, I’m still going forward with the clean eating plan, still posting recipes and cooking tips, but I’ll also be documenting my journey for the next year and will continue to share my daily life experiences with you. And random thoughts, and musings.
Visit the PCOS Association for more resources.