For almost my entire life I have struggled with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.) When I was a teenager, it meant I was a “late bloomer” who didn’t start getting a cycle until 16, and never grew breast tissue. Yeah, that made high school super fun- especially with the weight issues and glasses.
Over the years following I found other symptoms popping up- facial hair, extremely oily skin, anxiety, depression, and weight problems (in addition to my binge eating disorder.)
As an adult my cycle could last up to 30 days at a time, requiring surgical intervention twice. I’ve also been mortified on several occasion when I’ve bled through in public, ruining chairs, clothes, pretty much anything. It’s a painful, miserable condition- but the worst of it came when Mike and I started trying to conceive after our wedding.
It took 4 years, medication for insulin resistance, intervention with IVF, additional surgeries and a whole lot of heartbreak before we decided to stop trying. I took the time to focus on myself, and put all my energy into becoming happier and healthier.
After I lost my first 100 pounds, I was shocked to find out I had become pregnant without even trying. Ecstatic, I had labs drawn and the doctor happily told me that I had “reversed” my PCOS through weight loss. On cloud 9, I walked out of that office happier than ever; My PCOS was gone and I was finally having my baby.
Fast forward a few years. I’ve continues to lose weight, making total pounds lost 150. My healthy, beautiful, smart baby girl is 16 months old.. Aaaaand I’m back to suffering with my PCOS. “Reversing PCOS” wasn’t exactly true. I had it managed to a point where I could conceive, but the smaller symptoms remained.
PCOS is a genetic, hormonal, metabolic and reproductive disorder. It can have some pretty serious associated symptoms, like severe depression, anxiety, obesity, endometrial cancer, and type 2 diabetes. PCOS affects 1 in 10 women, so it’s important to be educated on prevention and treatment. I’ve run into many women who have suffered with PCOS. I’ve learned some tips and tricks; like Red Raspberry leaf tea for cramps, and how caffeine actually has a negative effect on the days we feel particularly run down.
PCOS patients usually have issues with their cycle due to malfunctions in their ovaries. A normal ovary releases about 20 follicles per month, usually one matures. At ovulation the mature egg releases into the Fallopian tube. The mature follicle releases progesterone and the uterine line thickens, period follows.
In a PCOS ovary, the body doesn’t make enough hormones for an egg to mature. The follicles will grow, but since none mature some will remain as cysts. No egg is released, no progesterone is produced and the uterine lining does not thicken.
The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown, but there is a trend in PCOS patients that elevated levels of androgen and insulin may be related to the condition.
PCOS is not limited to obese woman, but women who produce more insulin to break down their diet are at a higher risk for the condition.
Currently there is no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be managed with some medication. At my highest weight of 303 pounds, I was taking 2,550mg of metformin ( the highest recommended dose) to manage my insulin resistance. I was also prescribed hormones to force ovulation, then more hormones to stop the bleeding. All of these meds made me feel terrible all the time, and the hormones interfered with my mental health.
Losing my weight was the biggest thing that helped my PCOS to the point where I could conceive Anna. It wasn’t easy, but I had a strong motivation to keep pushing. The nutritionist I see still has me on a diet that is very similar to Keto, but is designed to keep the PCOS hormones at bay.
I follow the rules, I stay true to my diet and take my mental health meds- and yet sometimes I still have a PCOS attack. Today I am struggling with severe pain, lightheadedness, low heart rate, nausea, weakness, sadness, exhaustion and did I mention pain? It’s terrible. Even without missing any of my antidepressants, I’m feeling extremely low- as if I’ve neglected them all together. This condition truly has me by mind, body and soul.
PCOS is so common, which is good and bad. On one hand, we should be able to easily connect with each other, support each other, and push for research into a cure. On the other hand, it out right SUCKS to know people are out there suffering as much as I am. I’ve recently opened my mind and heart to additional aspects of holistic medicine, and I’m ready to try out some of my new tricks. Hopefully, the next time I blog about PCOS I’ll be able to share some helpful treatments! Until then, stay in the know and stay healthy.
All our love,
Kate and the Kids