One of the most common symptoms of PCOS is a wonky period schedule. I know for myself, I have never in my life had a predictable cycle. Sometimes they were 28 days, sometimes 34 days, and more often than not, any random number of days, meaning I could go months and months with no sign of a period at all.
Awesome if you aren’t trying to conceive, because who wants a period anyway, right? But there is science behind why that happens, and it’s important to understand how your body is working so you can try to combat irregular symptoms, of which there are many in PCOS!
Some women with PCOS think they are continuing to have “regular” cycles because they bleed every month, but in fact what is often happening is called estrogen breakthrough bleeding or anovulatory bleeding. This happens when there is no ovulation, which means no progesterone is produced. Without progesterone to balance out the estrogen, the endometrial wall is constantly thickening, unable to shed because it is lacking the necessary hormonal messages.
A period that occurs during an anovulatory cycle can be irregularly heavy, due to the increased thickening. Sometimes, however, the bleeding can be lighter. Or you may notice blood clots, some of which can be alarmingly large. Trust me, friends, I speak from experience. In general, the advice is to notify your doctor if the clots you are passing are larger than an egg. Larger than an egg! Fun times.
It is helpful to know what is normal for you, so you can judge each cycle and note the differences. Because of all the huge hormonal fluctuations in women with PCOS, periods can be very different even cycle to cycle. I myself have had a cycle last for over 3 weeks with insanely heavy bleeding, flooding, clots, etc that had me nearly housebound. If you find yourself in this position, talk to your doctor! There are medications your doctor can give you to help stop the bleeding, not to mention, there are several ways to help manage PCOS symptoms.
Know what is your normal, keep a journal, mark your calendars, keep yourself informed. Knowledge is power, my friends, and the more you know about yourself and how your body works, the better equipped you are to treat it and take care of it. It is also super helpful for sharing the information with your doctor, who can then help you to come up with a game plan for treatment.
Speaking of doctors, if your doctor is not helpful with helping you treat your PCOS symptoms, or infertility, or anything for that matter, if they are quick to simply blame your being overweight for your health problems, RUN AWAY!! That is a lazy cop out, and you deserve a doctor who cares and who will treat you fairly and with respect.
Also, women with PCOS aren’t always overweight! There are lots of thin cysters out there, having the same problems, minus the weight issues that are often common with the disorder.
There is no cure for PCOS, only treatment. This is why I am so passionate about learning everything that I can about it and sharing it with you. There is still so much to be learned about it all, but understanding what is happening is a huge step in the right direction.
Stay tuned for lots more in this series, and be well my friends!