About two weeks ago I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
In that time span I've probably felt every single range of emotion, from childishly silly excitement through downright confusion to utter depression. more
If you are thinking "what is PCOS?" don't worry, you're not alone. Like the name suggests, it means that the ovaries in a woman have multiple cysts on them. Whats confusing however, is that not necessarily every woman with PCOS has cysts nor does every woman with cysts have PCOS.
Around 1 in 4 women have polycystic ovaries, but are otherwise healthy in their ovulation, while 1 in 10 will have some kind of complications.
To be given a diagnosis of PCOS you need to have two or more of the following symptoms:
- Excessive hair growth
- Ovarian cysts
- Infrequent periods
The degrees to which you have these symptoms may vary which makes it all the harder to get yourself to a doctor to become diagnosed. For example, I have a body fat percentage somewhere around 20%, so you would hardly call me obese, nor do I have excessive hair growth or acne.
What I do however have are infrequent periods and ovarian cysts. Lots of them.
So what do these cysts do, and why do I want to get rid of them?
At the moment they’re not causing much trouble except for the fact that every now and then I’ll miss my period (which really isn’t much to complain about) but it could cause problems in the future.
PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women, and brings with it an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
If you also, like me, have no or infrequent periods, you’re also at a much higher than average risk of developing uterus cancer.
Treatment for PCOS is relatively simple on paper but can be confusing. Since the cysts are tied with insulin resistance, I’ve been put on the type 2 diabetes medication Metformin which should help my body become more sensitive to insulin and stop producing such high levels of it. I've also been to told to drink 10ml of olive oil before a meal to help with lining the stomach and prevent insulin spikes.
For most women though it is the change in diet that will have the greatest effect on how they cope with PCOS. It is not just essential to eat healthy and exercise regularly, but vital. A low carbohydrate and low GI diet is generally recommended. As women with PCOS have a tendency to struggle with weight it is a good step in the right direction to lose a couple of pounds when trying to heal. (Saying that, it’s not true for everybody as you could be like me and have a version dubbed “Lean PCOS”.)
Personally I have been already aiming to eat a clean diet with whole foods, but after this I feel more motivated to cut out refined sugars completely. There really is no greater reason to be healthy and kind to your body than your own health. It has been tough to come to terms with the idea that this is what I have. The first couple of days I was ecstatic as I had finally been given a satisfactory answer to all the things that weren't right in my body. However then as my internet history began to fill with google searches on PCOS and words like "infertility" or "infertile" started to cloud my mind I became down right depressed.
There is a lot to take in and a couple of lifestyle changes that will have to be made, but I'd urge anyone diagnosed with it not to worry as much about it as I did. PCOS can't be cured but you can treat it and there are so many women out there who have been told they have it yet have little problem with becoming pregnant.
If you have any of the above symptoms, please go get yourself checked, as the earlier it's spotted, the better.