Hi everyone! Sorry for missing last weekend. It was a bit crazy! It was good though, so nothing too crazy is going on in my life. This post may be a bit personal and if you’re not that into health-related content, then maybe you come back next Sunday! Please do what’s best for you. I will be talking about some stuff that relates more to the female body also, so again, if that’s not your thing, that’s totally fine! So this past week, I was informed that I have PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome. I just wanted to take this time and dedicate this post to reflecting on that and sharing a bit about it.
According to the Office of Women’s Health from the US Department of Health and Human Services, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is:
a common health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. The hormonal imbalance creates problems in the ovaries. The ovaries make the egg that is released each month as part of a healthy menstrual cycle. With PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should or it may not be released during ovulation as it should be.– Office on Women’s Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
As a result of failed ovulation and improper development of the egg, this can lead to the formation of cysts (which can vary in size) in the ovaries. In some women, this can be painful and in others it may not bother them. Some women don’t even actually develop cysts and may still be diagnosed with PCOS. And when referring to “hormonal imbalance”, the Office on Women’s Health is referring to high androgen (“male” hormone, even though women do naturally have a small amount of these) levels and high levels of insulin. Again, not all women with PCOS present with both high androgen levels and high insulin levels, but this is typically the case. Typical other symptoms or signs that a woman may have PCOS include but are not limited to hair loss, weight gain or having a difficult time losing weight, increased presence of facial hair, acne, and/or irregular/non-existent periods.
Before I discuss my own personal experiences, I would just like to say that by no means am I a doctor. Just because I experienced one thing doesn’t mean it will hold true for everyone, so please keep that in mind. I speak only for myself when I say what I’m going to say. 😉 When looking at my case, my biggest issue was my extremely irregular period. And when I say irregular, I mean that it would typically come every 2-3 months and if I was lucky, it might show every month like it is supposed to. Yes, I did breakout more around the time of my period but I figured that was normal. When my period skipped, I experienced what I thought was cramping/pelvic pain, and I thought it might come and then it never did. I did experience some hair loss beginning when I was about 15 or 16 but I feel that might have been related to going on a steroid inhaler for an extended amount of time. I don’t think I’ll truly ever know if that was correlated though, because my hair is growing much thicker and faster than it ever has now (and I’m SO thankful for it!!).
In an attempt to treat what I thought was just irregular periods, I was on birth control for about a year. This did help regulate my period but I began having heart palpitations. The longer I was on the pill, the more frequently I had palpitations too, which was concerning. As a result of that, I came off the pill and thankfully the extra heartbeats or lack of a heartbeat came to a stop. I thought that maybe a year of regulation on the pill would serve as a jumpstart for my body. Maybe my hormones had finally figured it out. But oh boy, WAS I WRONG. I understand that birth control can do strange things with your hormone and that some women don’t see their period for a year after coming off of the pill, but something just felt wrong. My period did not come and I was just concerned.
So, I ended up finding an OB/GYN in my area and I shared everything with her. After discussing some things with her, I had an ultrasound done and two separate blood tests. During the ultrasound, we were looking for the appearance of cysts in my ovaries. They were there. During the blood tests, she was looking to see what my follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels were like. She checked other hormones, but these were two key ones. My LH was higher than my FSH which on a very basic level means that my ovaries would be unable to ovulate properly, hence so many missed periods. In a normal case, on the third day of a woman’s period, FSH and LH should be at a 1:1 ratio. Again, my levels did not look like that.
At this point, my OB/GYN was pretty confident I had PCOS, but I had my second blood test done to confirm that it was PCOS and not some other disorder/disease that mimics polycystic ovarian syndrome. I had a full lipid panel done in addition to having a diabetes screening, and had a few more hormone levels checked. From that blood test, my diagnosis was confirmed.
Prior to officially knowing what was going on, there was a lot of uncertainty. I fear the unknown and it was honestly troubling and frustrating not knowing why my body wasn’t working right. I had done some research on PCOS prior to being told that’s what I had and it was a bit scary reading some stuff. The biggest red flag that came to me was the word infertility. Every source I combed through mentioned that it may be more challenging to have kids and that was disappointing to me! But, from what I learned with my OB/GYN and the ultrasound technician and with further research, PCOS is the most common, but treatable, cause of infertility in women, which was incredibly encouraging.
I think it’s important to note that prior to getting a diagnosis or a result, it’s okay to feel scared and unsure. But, you shouldn’t allow yourself to jump to conclusions and get all worked up over something you don’t really know much about yet. You need to educate yourself and properly do your research to look for solutions and a brighter perspective. Yes, there is no cure for PCOS but there are ways to manage it. Yes, there may be a slight challenge with fertility but I know that it is extremely possible to have healthy, normal pregnancies even with PCOS and that penalty of women been through that. Yes, there might be a lot that I still don’t know about this condition that I have but it will not change how I function as a person. If anything, it will help me be more in-tune with my body and see what all I am capable of in attempting to become the best version of myself.
I’m just going to continue working out, eating healthy, loving food (because who doesn’t?!?), and loving life. Have a wonderful week everyone! ❤️