I have pcos, now what?!
PCOS (also known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a female hormonal imbalance that impacts 1 in 10 women of reproduction age. It also happens to be a re-occurring conversation in my life since I was personally diagnosed back in 2014. It seems like many friends of mine are hearing their physician hint at this because they are experiencing some of the associated symptoms or are having difficulty conceiving. Hopefully my journey can shed some light on this for anyone else who may share this imbalance.
What is PCOS?
Let's keep this as simple as possible. We all have both male and female hormones in our bodies. Women with PCOS carry higher than normal levels of insulin and male sex hormones, typically resulting in irregular ovulation, conception, hunger, and weight gain
Common PCOS Symptoms
Irregular menstrual cycles
Absence of periods
Irregular menstrual cycles / Difficulty Conceiving
Excess hair on the body (typically anywhere you don't want hair, or aren't supposed to have hair)
Small cysts on ovaries (which you obviously can't see, but you can certainly feel them if they rupture)
Weight gain /Unexplained increase in appetite
Depression & Anxiety
Cystic Acne + Oily skin
Sounds pretty lovely, doesn't it?! If you look over the symptoms and think this is definitely worth checking out with your doctor, then go do it immediately! My first warning sign that I should have noticed was when I was in high school. I had a cyst rupture one weekend. The pain was excruciating to the point where I threw up and then proceeded to faint. Warning signs are part of your medical history, and that's where the doctor will start in your diagnosis and will typically follow this path:
Personal medical history + family history (looking for genetic indicators, personal history of cysts and other irregularities)
Blood tests (looking for high amounts of insulin & male hormones, checking thyroid or other adrenal conditions, checking insulin/glucose)
External + internal ultrasound (looking for cysts or abnormalities)
Weight and BMI analysis (looking for abnormal patterns)
Yup, it's PCOS...now what!?
Management + Treatment tips
Research, research, and more research (understand the effects on your body and the proper precautions to take, educate yourself on how this will impact your health, fertility)
Get a second opinion/perspective (check out specialist or naturopath)
Clean up your lifestyle (nutrition + lifestyle + toxins/chemicals)
Remove the stressors (manage cortisol and other stress hormones)
Fill your body with the best of the best in terms of food, supplements, natural products, and anything artificial that you eat or put on your body
Check your contraception (what method do you use? Is it PCOS friendly?!)
Checks your meds (are your meds impacting your PCOS)
Try natural therapies/management (herbal medicine, organic nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy, chiropractic, Chinese medicine, aromatherapy...my personal fave, reflexology, and massage...another favourite of course)
Find accurate health information from trusted sources to assist your decision making
Treat the unpleasant physical symptoms of PCOS (ex. acne) - i'll be sharing my PCOS skincare routine next week.
Discuss your mood and psychological wellbeing with your family + doctor
Optimize your lifestyle
Prioritize what is most important to you
My diagnosis came when we were trying to plan a family. Do not let this discourage you! I am no healthcare professional, but I wanted to deal with this with minimal prescription medication. With family as our goal, I went off my hormonal birth control pills and finally conceived after one whole year. At one point during my pregnancy I had 3 cysts in my uterus along with the baby, but everything turned out fine. It is possible! You can read that story here.
I'm happy to answer more personal or in-depth questions. I'm no professional or anything, I just know what worked for me and i'm happy to help shed more light on the entire process. Feel free to leave me a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck on your journey. You are not alone!