Hello All! Sorry Guys, this one is for the Ladies but feel totally free to stay and learn something. I want to give a loving shout out to all my Cysters! I’m 31. I hate PCOS. And, the session starts now so grab a spot and get ready to go down the journey of PCOS with me. As, I keep writing and the wheels keep churning in my head this is one of the many topics that stick out.
Did you know that September is PCOS awareness month? This is an important one for us and as PCOS is such a personal syndrome, affecting us intimately, it’s something that many of us don’t talk about too much. Trust me, when I say it’s extremely personal. Looking back, I believe that I’ve had PCOS (or it has been developing) ever since I was 16, and that it got worse with the weight gain and loss huge roller coaster!
Yes, PCOS does impact on our ovaries, hence the name Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. But it is also so much more than that. PCOS is an endocrine disorder that impacts on just about every area of my body and my life. I loose weight easily, may have mood swings or struggle with depression. The other worst part part of PCOS is the inability to lose weight. I don’t have PCOS because I’m weight roller coster, I’m weight roller coster beacause I have PCOS. I have very real fears around my ability to fall pregnant. Sometimes I can’t think clearly and my getting through my day is a huge achievement in light of the exhaustion that I feel. So, no, PCOS doesn’t affect just my ovaries. It affects me. Some days I need to be given a little more grace or with more tenderness cause it’s just been one of those days.
Understanding PCOS is easier if one tries to picture what goes on inside our ovaries every month. For more about women’s monthly cycles, please refer to our article on menstruation. Each month our ovaries begin to ripen a number of follicles. You may be surprised to hear that normal follicles are cysts – in that they are pockets of tissue filled with benign fluid and hormones, mostly estrogen. The amount of immature follicles changes with each cycle— but during normal times, one or two follicles grow stronger than the others and produce an egg. When we ovulate, the egg in the dominant follicle pops out and flows into the fallopian tube on its way to the uterus. This event triggers a host of hormonal secretions, one of which is progesterone, that will plump up the uterus to support a pregnancy if the egg is fertilized or a normal monthly period if it is not.
Fertility is a tough one. It’s not impossible for me to fall pregnant but it can take so much longer than the average woman and it can be a source of great heart ache. So, before asking if I’m pregnant because of my weight or when I am going to have children, please tread carefully. And now there’s another thing to consider. If I do not have children, it doesn’t mean that PCOS doesn’t affect me. Remember that it affects more than just my ovaries.
When ovaries become polycystic, they create a lot of follicles that form like a pearl necklace on the ovaries. No one follicle becomes dominant and ovulation can’t occur. For the most part, these multiple ovarian cysts are not dangerous in themselves—unlike larger ovarian cysts that cause pain and can rupture. But they do bring with them a range of uncomfortable side effects. Because a woman with PCOS doesn’t ovulate, her natural sequence of hormonal events gets interrupted, her levels of estrogen and androgens (testosterone and DHEA) remain high, and her body reacts with symptoms.
The most common symptoms of PCOS are an irregular period, infertility, increased hair growth and unusual weight gain, even with dieting or increased exercise. Women with PCOS will often go for months without a period and then start bleeding heavily for days. This occurs when the uterine lining has gotten too thick and the body must naturally shed it. Because PCOS disrupts ovulation, it can be very difficult to become pregnant.
Other signs of PCOS include acne, high blood pressure, obesity, and abnormal facial and body hair growth (due to too much testosterone). One of the less recognizable symptoms of PCOS is depression, which can be misread as a bipolar illness. While depression stems from many factors, we think it is always a good idea to consider PCOS if patients have other symptoms. In some medical practices antidepressants are prescribed, which do not alleviate the underlying issues, and therefore are not very helpful.
At the moment, there is no cure for PCOS. This is something that I have to learn to live with. I may well get my symptoms under control but I need to make sure that I keep them under control. So, everyday when I wake up, I make a decision that PCOS is not going to get the better of me. Today, I will work hard to stay healthy. Some days are better than others but on the whole, I will do everything that I can to keep my PCOS well managed and in control.
Unfortunately PCOS affects one in ten women worldwide. So, I am definitely not alone in my struggle with it. Considering there are so many millions of us affected by PCOS, I wish we had better support and understanding of what PCOS is and how it affects me.PCOS is not fun and does affect every area of my life. I am at risk for a lot of secondary health issues and it’s symptoms often make me feel unfeminine and unattractive.
BUT, PCOS does not define me and it is not who I am. I refuse to let PCOS dictate my story and I will keep going in my fight against it. I am determined. And you should be too!
It means the world that you have taken time out of your day to find out more about PCOS and how it affects so many of us. If you have PCOS yourself, thank you for sharing your struggles and for your support.
If someone you love has PCOS, thank you for loving her enough to learn about the many ways that PCOS affects her and what it means for her.
Thank you for reading friend.