For those of you who haven’t read my About Me page, I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2010 when my husband and I first decided we wanted to have a baby. Of course this news was devastating. I didn’t know where to turn or who I could talk to because this syndrome was so new to me. I had never heard of it and I didn’t know anyone who had it.
1 in 10 women have it….that’s approximately 5% of women. How could I not know what this syndrome was? I wanted to write this blog post so that I could educate people on what this syndrome is and what I deal with on a regular basis.
So what is PCOS? Well, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or better known as PCOS is basically the hormones in a woman’s body is out of balance. This hormone imbalance can result in irregular menstrual cycles and we all know if you aren’t regular….you’ll have problems getting pregnant. PCOS can also cause changes to your body that are unwanted like acne, extra hair growth all over your body and weight gain. Some of the more serious health related problems include diabetes and heart disease.
What does PCOS look like? In most women with PCOS, they grow many small cysts on their ovaries. That is how the syndrome got its name. Most commonly this is how PCOS is diagnosed along with blood work. When the doctor looks at the ultrasound of your ovaries, you will see these little dark circles all over your ovaries. Below is an example of an ovary with PCOS:
How is PCOS diagnosed? There is no one test and your done when it comes to diagnosing PCOS. When your doctor suspects that you have PCOS, first thing you have a physical exam of your thyroid, skin, hair, breasts and belly. You would then be given a pelvic exam and pelvic ultrasound. Labs will be taken to check your hCG, Testosterone (andgrogen), Prolactin, Cholesterol and triglycerides, TSH, Adrenal gland hormones and your glucose. My PCOS was easy to diagnose as my left ovary had 13 cysts. I’m one of the lucky ones who only have one cystic ovary and the other one is well just there.
How do you get PCOS? This syndrome is baffling to pretty much everyone even doctors. The cause of PCOS is not fully understood but it seems to be a common thing in families. In my case, no one on my mother’s side has PCOS and I’ve never had the chance to meet my dad’s mother or her side of the family.
What are the symptoms of PCOS? This differs for every women with it but the most common are:
- Weight Gain
- Extra Hair Growth
- Thinning hair at the scalp
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles
- Pelvic Pain
- Depression and/or mood swings
In my case, I have 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7. I constantly battle with acne on my chin which is normally where hormonal breakouts occur. I hate waking up to a huge red bump in the middle of my chin….which is why I have taken an interest in makeup and I’m actually rather good at it. Weight gain….ugh we all know I’m in the middle of a weight-loss journey which is going ok right now. I’ve been having a lot more “funk” days lately which has resulted in me falling off track. Missing periods are normal for me…..I have never been normal. They always came and went when they wanted and my doctors at the time didn’t really think anything of it because I was having 6 cycles a year. Pelvic pain sucks….lets put this into perspective for you…imagine your cramps during your “time of the month” magnify that by say 10……and experience this pain for at least two or three weeks. Talk about unbearable…sometimes I can’t move and the fetal position is the only way I get relief. I really don’t classify myself as having depression but I will admit there are days where I am in a “funk” and feel like my whole world is over. This feeling typically only lasts a day or two but those feelings of self-doubt and disappointment are really hard to shake off. Being unhappy in your own body is the worst feeling.
What are the treatments for PCOS? This typically is a case by case scenario and is based on your symptoms. In my case, since I am overweight and trying to conceive, it is extremely important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Not smoking is another huge thing….not a problem for me as I am a non-smoker. There is also hormone therapy like, metformin (which I am currently taking) or clomiphene, birth control and a few others if you are trying to conceive. Ovarian Drilling is also a treatment option if you are trying to get pregnant and you are not responding to the hormone medications. It is extremely important to have regular check ups which I am really horrible about doing because I have a huge fear of doctors.
Is PCOS preventable? NOPE…sorry but this is not preventable. Early diagnosis and treatment helps prevent long-term complications so please keep that in mind.
I really hope this information has helped you understand what PCOS is and how it affects the body, mind and soul. From the physical pain to the emotional pain…..it all SUCKS!! I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I will answer any questions anyone may have or be the support system you always needed. No one should ever feel alone when going through any medical issue.
Please note that I am not a doctor in any way and I can only speak from my own experience.