To start off my blog I first need to explain what lead me to this point. When I was younger I definitely had hormonal issues. My body never seemed to work like it should. I suffer from anxiety and depression so I never thought much about it. Once I got to middle school I thought- wow how cool is it that I get to go months and months without having to deal with that horrid monthly visitor us woman get. I started birth control in high school because I figured that it was the responsible thing to do. Once I was on birth control I had no issues. I was bleeding every month and that was that. That was how I never detected my PCOS. Birth control is your wonder drug if you aren’t planning on having children.
This past August I decided that because I was 23 years old and in a steady relationship and thinking about my future, I really didn’t see a need to continue the birth control. A couple months went by and I still hadn’t had a menstrual cycle, but I figured it was okay because before the birth control I would have only a couple a year and when I did have them they seemed never-ending. It’s not that they were heavy by any means, but they wouldn’t stop for about a month. I had done some research and found out that after birth control it takes awhile for your body to start communicating with itself again, so I waited and tried different things. By the third month I was trying to induce a menstrual cycle naturally by taking Vitex and other supplements that received great reviews online. It had been 5 months with still nothing happening and enough was enough. I was starting to really worry that something was wrong with me.
I went to my main doctor and he wasn’t sure what the issue was, so I had blood work done and an ultrasound. After a scare and a mix up on my doctors part, I found out that I had high testosterone levels (androgens) and low FSH levels (the follicle stimulating hormone helps control the menstrual cycle and the production of eggs by the ovaries.) I had absolutely no idea what any of this meant and thus I was introduced to the terms PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome.
PCOS is a hormonal endocrine disorder that affects pretty much every part of your body. This disorder is the most common cause of fertility issues among woman today. Between 1 in 10 women of childbearing age has PCOS. It can occur in girls as young as 11 years old and often times will go undiagnosed until it is too late.
For reasons that are not well understood, in PCOS the hormones get out of balance. One hormone change triggers another, which changes another. For example the sex hormones get out of balance. Normally, the ovaries make a tiny amount of male sex hormones (androgens) but with PCOS, they start making slightly more androgens. This may cause you to stop ovulating, get terrible cystic acne, and even grow extra facial and body hair. It is known to be hereditary which actually makes sense to me. I believe my mother had it and she conceived both my sister and I naturally because she was undiagnosed. She was 27 when she had my sister and in her 30’s when she had me.
Now don’t go diagnosing yourself because I am obviously not a doctor, but I can tell you what the symptoms for PCOS are. Common symptoms include; infertility, absent or irregular menstrual cycles, increased hair growth in places you don’t want hair, thinning hair, skin tags, anxiety and depression, sleep issues, and everyone’s favorite: weight gain. Weight gain is so common and the fat so hard to lose with PCOS because of the fact you are insulin resistant ( you’re body holds onto fat and doesn’t know how to distribute sugar) much like if you were to have diabetes. Lets talk about cysts. It’s normal for any girl to have cysts on her ovaries and it’s actually not as bad as you think, but when you have PCOS your ovaries basically look like there is a string of pearls wrapped around them which are actually premature eggs that never get released and cling to the ovary. Let me show you what this looks like in an ultrasound. This is not an ultrasound of me because my ultrasound actually came out normal despite a possible small cyst on my left ovary.
Now that you know what PCOS is let me continue with my story. I was sent to a specialist in mid January and he agreed that yes, I have PCOS. However, lucky for me I have very little symptoms. The only symptoms I have are trouble with my weight, anovulation and absent/irregular menstrual cycles. I see my specialist every single month. Expensive right? I was originally put on Metformin which is a horrific drug that is prescribed for people with diabetes, but helps woman with PCOS due to being insulin resistant. Don’t even get me started with the side effects of this bad boy. Let’s just say stomach issues for days. My dose started at 50 mlg a day and is now up to 2,000 mlg a day. I have very strict exercise plans I’m supposed to follow and I really should be on a gluten free diet. The more weight you lose the more fertile you become.
A common misconception about PCOS is that you can’t get pregnant, but this is absolutely not true. So many woman everyday get pregnant with this disorder, however, I’m not going to tell you it’s easy and it can be a very long and stressful process for some. I have been put on Provera which is the only medication that will induce periods for me and I continue on my Metformin. Women trying to conceive with this disorder can definitely get pregnant on their own, but due to the fact that we never know when the heck we’re going to ovulate, if we even do that month, woman rely on a drug called Clomid which is a miracle drug that induces ovulation. Miscarriages are very common with PCOS, but I know so many woman who have had many successful pregnancy’s with Clomid. Clomid is given in rounds because of the side effects. A side effect of Clomid is actually multiple births because of how many eggs your body is trying to produce, so I also know women with triplets that have taken this medication.
My point of this story is that there are so many woman who stress out daily and chart, temp and plan constantly doing everything they can to tackle this disease, but remember that stress is the worst for us cysters and that there are so many success stories out there. I encourage any of you out there with this disorder to go find a support group page. I’m in a Clomid support group and these woman are amazing. At first I thought they were speaking a different language and I would never catch on when all I saw were abbreviations like; AF, DPO, OPK, BD, BFP, and so many more. I eventually caught on and now I know exactly what these woman are talking about. There is always someone out there whose condition is going to be in worse than yours and someone whose condition is better. My message is never ever lose hope because there are so many tips on how to live a healthy life with this disorder. Stay positive, don’t give up, pray daily, and don’t for one second think that you will never have children or live a normal life.