I don’t think I’v ever really opened up to fully discuss my battle with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome to anyone because it isn’t something I truly enjoy talking about. It’s actually pretty strange that the moment in time I decide to open up about the condition is through blogging it out for everyone in the world to see. As I type this it is awkward and uncomfortable to put my thoughts together but I have to do it. I have to share and make as much noise as possible because of the silence we as women have become accustomed to in regards to our health. Because it makes both men and women uncomfortable to talk about women’s health, and sexual well being it often gets put on the back burner and ignored even in today’s progressive time period. I find it funny that when I have brought up PCOS in random conversation whether in person or via text I get the same three responses: silence/ignoring the conversation, pity/sadness, and belittling of the situation in itself (at least its not cancer). I don’t fault anyone for their knee jerk responses because they haven’t been informed and conditioned to handle full blown unfiltered conversations about women’s health. So here I am… this is why I am putting it out there to open up the conversation for those who may still be afraid to talk about it…
PCOS is constantly on my mind and affects how handle many aspects of my life. After being diagnosed with in 2010 at 22 I didn’t realize the severity of what was going on in my body. Much of that can be credited to my gynecologist who handled it as a regular cold that would vanish on its own if I just took birth control. I must say that I am blessed to have a milder case than most have reported having to deal with, but it most certainly did not just “go away”. I haven’t had many complications besides the infrequent periods and slight discomfort every now and then. However as I gain more knowledge about the condition and grow closer towards wanting a family at some point it is creating a heavier amount of anxiety and depression in my daily routine.
WHY? Most women complain about their monthly menstruation cycles not realizing that is a great checks and balances method to making sure you are healthy and that your ovaries/uterus are properly functioning. It is a lack of menstruation that causes harm and alarms us that something isn’t right (i.e.: pregnancy, disease…etc) So with the infrequent menstruation caused by PCOS the lining inside your uterus becomes to thick because it isn’t shedding every month like it should. This leads to an increase in estrogen which leads to endometrial cancer.
SYMPTOMS/ HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED The easiest and simplest symptom to recognize is the lack of a normal menstruation cycle. Once you mention this to your doctor they will further test you to see if there are any other reasons to rule out before they give you your final diagnosis. Most of the time the tests include blood work to check hormonal imbalances and a sonogram to check for the presence of cysts. Other symptoms that may come along with PCOS are:
An Excess of androgen (male hormones). In my case I have a slight excess of testosterone. Excess male hormones in a female may lead to depressing physical signs such as acne, facial and body hair, and rapid weight gain.
Fertility Issues Because you are not menstruating regularly your doctor will probably put you on birth control to help lower the risk of cancer. This is what I’ve been taking on and off again for the past four years to help regulate my periods. However when it is time to have a baby PCOS can create very large risks to you and the baby if you are able to conceive. Most women with PCOS have to undergo In-Vitro or take drugs to help the ovulation process. Even if women with PCOS are able to get pregnant the miscarriage rate is very high due to the lack of progesterone being produced. Many women who are able to give birth find the pregnancy was difficult and are at high risk of getting diabetes due to the hormonal imbalance of insulin.
Polycystic ovaries Enlarged ovaries containing numerous small cysts can be detected by ultrasound. These cysts are usually harmless (besides causing infrequent periods) as long as they are monitored and you keep taking birth control.
CAUSES Unknown! And that’s what pisses me off the most about this and many other women’s health issues. The diagnosis is there but for many issues that we deal with we are left with many hopeless options (or it so it seems for me) Doctors don’t know what causes PCOS and have no known cure for it. It is a condition that you have to live with/ cope with and deal with. Especially as you approach the age when you are thinking about getting married or having children.
WHAT YOU CAN DO Though there isn’t MUCH we can do there are still steps you can take to help alleviate some of the symptoms and make life more bearable. There is of course the birth control option to help regulate your menstruation. Doctors also recommend staying active and watching what you eat. I think this has been my saving grace in not letting the condition do as it pleases with my body. Not so much the eating clean part (though I have gotten much much better) but staying active will help in lowering the body sugar especially if you are fighting an insulin imbalance. It is also important to keep your weight in check as a higher weight increases more risks and opens us up to more disease. Its easier said than done I know, but its worth a shot to give your self a chance at fighting these symptoms off.
FINAL THOUGHTS With a complex condition that affects many parts of the woman’s body not just the vagina you would think information about it would be more widespread and readily available. Currently 1 in 10 women nation wide are suffering with PCOS and I know of only one person who has ever spoken about it. I’m not throwing a pity party since the last thing that could actually help me would be pity. I am well aware that in the grand scheme of things it could be a million times worse. I by no means put myself on the same level of those who are fighting an amazing fight against other tremendously vicious diseases. I am just calling for action and awareness.
Its curious to me while doing research that all the opinions, facts, statistics and data I came across were researched by men. Obviously that shouldn’t come to much of a surprise since the medical and science fields are still predominately dominated by men. We as women need to speak up and speak out even without a Phd we can still open up a dialogue to let other women know that they are most certainly NOT alone.
*I am no doctor and do not have all the answers by any means but if you need to discuss anything or have any questions please feel free to comment below or email me and I will do the best I can.