This September is PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) month. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight this serious genetic, hormone, metabolic and reproductive disorder that I suffer from along with many women and girls in the world who may or may not know they affected by it. Many of you may not even have heard of it, but this condition affects 1 in 10 women and is the leading cause of female infertility and is often linked to other serious conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endometrial cancer.
Common signs and symptoms include but are not limited to are:
- irregular periods
- excess facial and body hair
- severe acne
- small cysts in ovaries
- insulin resistance
- anxiety and depression
- weight gain
- male pattern hair loss
- mood swings
My PCOS Story
Like many women, I can’t pinpoint when my PCOS developed, but thinking back, it was probably around the age of 17 or so. I had started to develop acne and my periods started to become irregular. At the time, I thought it was down to puberty, stress at school and not findingt the right cleaning products that suited my skin type. My mum took me to see a dermatologist who prescribed me with a 3 step cleaning ritual and then progressed to a 5 step cleaning routine and when that didn’t work, we were back down to just soap and water. Nothing worked.
When I started university, I went to my university GP for a routine check up. She noticed how my acne was affecting me and that I was on the verge of being given anti-depressants. She recommended that I try taking the contraceptive pill to keep my hormones in check. I didn’t think much into it and agreed, cleaning hasn’t helped in the past, so why not give something else a try, right? Since that day, I had pretty much been on the pill on and off for the next decade.
Being on the pill meant I got my “period”, as a side effect, I had a bit of weight gain, constant mood swings and insomnia but I thought this was down to general stress from coursework and exams. Thankfully, I didn’t have any unwanted hair growth or thinning hair and neither did I suffer from infertility, or at leasts I wouldn’t know, since I wasn’t trying to get pregnant.
So was I happy that I was put on the pill? Yes, because my acne had cleared up. My period was “regular” and I knew exactly when they would come which made planning holidays on the beach pretty handy!
Fast forward several years and shortly before I got married, I came off the pill as I knew being on it for such a long time meant it would take some time for my body to get back to “normal”. Although, my reasons for coming off it wasn’t because I wanted to get pregnant. I was just sick of taking the pill everyday and knowing it would cause me long term harm. All those scary blood clot and sudden death stories in the papers related to the pill didn’t exactly appeal to me either.
As my body cleared my system of any remnants of the pill, my acne returned, but I didn’t want to go back on the pill. Another thing that worried me was that my periods had been very irregular. I had less than 5 periods in the whole 18 months, and most of them appeared to just be spotting. Again, I visited my GP and this was when she diagnosed me with PCOS. Never had I heard of this before and being told that there was no cure surprisingly didn’t actually bother me too much back then. I wasn’t complaining because all I heard was that I would have irregular or less period. Never did it dawn on me that this meant I had fertility issues.
Starting a Family
After 18 months of marriage, we had gotten to the stage where me and S felt that it was probably time for us to start thinking of a family. We booked for a private consultation at The Portland Hospital. Again, it was confirmed that I suffered from PCOS and that conceiving in my current state would be quite difficult given my history. However, it wasn’t impossible. The doctor prescribed me with some insulin medication and off I went, to report back every 2 weeks for a progress checkup.
Months passed after my first visit and boom! Pregnant! I was very lucky that I actually managed to get pregnant so quickly and didn’t have to wait for years. I know how it can be a long struggle for some couples, but it is possible and so worth it.
Pregnancy and PCOS
Having PCOS whilst pregnant meant I was examined far more than my fellow pregnant friends. However, this was thoroughly welcomed on my part as I had constant thoughts of my baby dying my in womb every bloody day! It didn’t help being told that because of my PCOS, I had a high risk of pregnancy and delivery complications. The riskof miscarriage in the first 3 months was a lot higher, especially since I had a demanding job that required me to fly overseas frequently. The risks of pregnancy with PCOS did not stop there, it was a long list of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and risk of premature birth.
How we managed to stay relaxed during those 9 months was a miracle. Telling us to treat it like a normal pregnancy didn’t help either, but having a family that supported us and a workplace that accommodated to my needs surely made our lives alot easier. We also got to meet our baby a lot sooner as well. At 4 weeks gestation, I laid my eyes on my little #Bean flickering on the scan.
Luckily, my little baby boy was born almost full term. He has been a fighter since day one and I am super proud of him. I can’t wait to meet the man he will one day become. Those of you who follow me on my Instagram will understand how much this little man means to me.
Living with PCOS
Living with PCOS is not easy, but I have learnt to accept it. There are much worse things to suffer from, so I count my blessings everyday. I thank God for giving me a chance to go through everything I have and share my experiences with my friends, family and readers. But more importantly, I thank God for giving me the opportunity to become a mother even with this condition. I couldn’t have asked for anything more perfect than what he has planned.
What to do if you find out you have PCOS?
- Reach out! There is alot more people suffering from this condition than you think! Not many will talk about it, but go out and find support, you are really not alone.
- Look out for local charities. Verity and PCOS Awareness Association are just 2 of many operating in the UK. They can help you understand more about your condition. Armed with essential knowledge, you can begin your path of healing.
- Look at your diet. Research has found that the easiest way to manage PCOS if through diet and lifestyle changes.
- Make sure you are getting enough key vitamins and nutrients from your diet. Otherwise consider taking supplements that may help such as Omega 3 and Vitamin D.
- Exercise. Just some light exercise can help you de-stress, increase our insulin sensitivity and lowers disruption to our endocrine system.
- Get properly diagnosed if you haven’t yet. PCOS can have long term health implications, so you need to make sure you review and monitor your health regularly.
Living with PCOS is life changing, everyday can seem like a fight. Depression seems like it’s always around the corner waiting for me, but I know there is no giving up.
Thank you for reading and until next time…
Love, MsMamabean x
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