What perfect timing to delve into the beast known as PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome! So to start things off, perhaps we should start at the beginning and explain just what exactly this condition is.
PCOS is one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders in women, but is still a tricky thing to actually get diagnosed because of the many varying symptoms that can be confused for other issues. Short story: Women with PCOS have multiple cysts on their ovaries, and those little suckers start a whole avalanche of hormonal imbalance. Some of the havoc this imbalance can bring includes: infertility, acne, weight gain, trouble losing weight, thinning scalp hair, loads of extra face hair, oily skin, irregular periods, potential insulin related problems including diabetes and increased risk for heart problems, and unbelievably, with all of these fun ailments, anxiety and depression are also very high on the list. Go figure!
I self diagnosed myself with PCOS back in 2008, after having a miscarriage the year before and being unable to get pregnant again afterwards. My doctor later confirmed my diagnosis through ultrasounds and blood work. I was given a prescription for Clomid, and 6 months later, I was expecting our little Noey Bean.
Now, I had heard that sometimes following a pregnancy, the hormones can sort of self regulate and was hopeful that we would be able to get pregnant again some day. Because of our struggle with secondary fertility, we started trying to conceive again just before Noah turned one, expecting it to take possibly years before being successful. When the pregnancy test came back positive three weeks before Noah’s first birthday, I was dumbfounded! That pregnancy brought us Saraphina. <3
It has been our desire from the start to have a large family, and our “plan” does include more children. So last year, we decided to hop back on the heartbreak train of TTC (trying to conceive). Ironically, looking back, it would appear that the last time I ovulated, was the month before we decided to TTC. Laugh or cry or scream, but I’m pretty sure that is indeed the case.
I have always had irregular periods, another sign of PCOS, but like most girls, I loathe that time of the month, so going months sometimes without is all fine and dandy with me, until you actually expect your body to work like it is supposed to. Crazy, right?
I can tell when I actually ovulate in a cycle, because the resulting period is a nightmare. (heavy bleeding is another PCOS symptom) Like, I’m talking, don’t leave the house, don’t move, don’t sneeze, just chill for 5 days or risk looking like an extra from the latest gorefest slasher flick.
On months when I don’t ovulate, I still get a period, but not really. See, bleeding without ovulation is also known as estrogen breakthrough bleeding, or annovulatory bleeding, and while blood is involved, for me, it is a very miniscule amount compared to my usual “fertile” cycles. I imagine it is what a “normal” cycle would be like, but without ovulation, it is a big fat bloody (or not so bloody in this case) waste of time in my humble opinion, and a reminder that I am broken. Ugh.
I have more fertility books than I can count, including Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. This book is amazing for learning about your body, how things work, charting your cycles, using a BBT thermometer, etc. The problem is, having PCOS, a lot of it’s usefulness is wasted on me. I have tried charting, but my charts are crazy, thanks to PCOS. I can use ovulation predictor kits (opk’s), and while I will get a positive result, a spike in lutenizing hormone or LH, it definitely does not mean that I will ovulate. My body has been gearing up and trying to ovulate for what feels like forever, but the hormone imbalance kicks everything around and instead, I get a positive OPK, no ovulation, and then a frustrating annovulatory cycle.
One of the biggest treatments for PCOS is weight loss. *Insert big fat sigh of annoyance right HERE!* The hormone imbalance is greatly against you with this battle, and I have been feeling that especially hard for the last several years. It doesn’t mean I’m not trying though. We have adopted a whole foods diet in this house, meaning I am making alost every single meal we eat from scratch, with the most basic whole foods we can find. Loads of fruits and veggies and beans, all good healthy foods, no added sugars, or chemicals. I wish I could say I dropped loads of weight and feel revitalized, but in truth, I don’t. I know we are eating better, and getting better nutrition, something I have no desire to change, but I hoped it would help me more with my PCOS symptoms.
I have tried more herbs than I can name at the moment, but I will delve more into that in another post. For now, I just wanted to give a brief history of my personal struggle, along with a tiny, short version of what PCOS actually is. I will be continuing this discussion all month long, and of course, will be documenting our journey hopefully through a successful pregnancy in the near future.
Until then, be well! <3