As the title of the post shows, today’s post is all about PCOS (or polycystic ovarian syndrome, to give it its full name). If you’ve followed the blog for a while now, or even know me in person, then you know that this is a condition that I have, that oddly, was diagnosed after having two children already (infertility is often a symptom). Though it wasn’t the first time that I had come across the name of the syndrome, as I had been tested for it in my early twenties, after consulting with a nutritionalist. It came back negative, and then I never thought much of it.
That was until my second child was nearly two and I still hadn’t had a period since she’d been born.
So sit down, grab a cuppa, and read on if this is of interest to you. I apologise now for the TMI.
As I had been breastfeeding her up until the age of 18 months, I put it down to that. I was busy with my two kids, aged four and two, so I didn’t give much thought to it – yay for no periods, right? Then when we decided to try for a third (and final) baby, it did raise cause for concern, simply because I had no idea when I was ovulating, or if I was still was at all.
I found the whole diagnosis process very frustrating as the medical professionals I was seeing (initially started with my GP) would contradict each other, with one saying that even though I had cysts on my ovaries from the result of a scan, I probably didn’t have the syndrome (even though I had lots of symptoms). So it took a lot of appointments and speaking to various people to get anything confirmed.
It was a lot of appointments back and forth, and a lot that I came across would just bang on about losing weight (which, of course, I know) but wouldn’t offer anything else useful. I think that because I wasn’t just after a diagnosis, I was wanting to check I was still ovulating as well, it was made a little more frustrating (and even more appointments). So if you are in a similar situation, I would really push for what you want and keep going back. The NHS is wonderful in a lot of ways, but when things aren’t urgent, you can kind of get forgotten about…
What Is PCOS?
If you’ve been reading wondering what on earth I am talking about, then this Nature’s Best site has a lot of useful information. But I’ll break down what the syndrome is for you (one important thing to note is that you can have ovarian cysts without having the syndrome – you can have it confirmed with a blood test).
- PCOS is related to abnormal hormone levels in the body
- The imbalance of hormones affects how the ovaries work
- Infertility is common, as well as irregular periods
- It affects around 1 in 10 women
- Symptoms can included low energy, weight gain, mood swings, excess body hair
- There is no cure
What symptoms do I experience?
I experience weight gain, mood swings, excess body hair, and bad skin from time to time. The thing I struggle the most with is my weight, and lack of energy, regardless of what I am eating. I could eat Deliciously Ella plant-based recipes all week with no sugar, and still feel absolutely exhausted.
And as described above, I have had the irregular periods for a long time (my daughter is now four and can count how many periods I have had in two years on one hand). infertility has been a problem too – since trying two years ago, I have had one false alarm with a false positive test, and one miscarriage. Both absolutely heartbreaking. Miscarriage isn’t always going to happen with PCOS, but it can happen more often, especially being overweight.
PCOS and Mental Health
I’ll be honest in saying that PCOS has impacted my mental health in a big way, especially to start with. I got quite down about some of the symptoms I have, like excess body hair etc and the weight gain, and mood swings are not fun. You have more of the ‘male’ hormone than a ‘normal’ woman has too, and that is just hard to take. Feeling ‘manly’ and people thinking that about me has been hard.
Suffering from infertility and miscarriage as a result of PCOS has had quite a dramatic impact too. I have, and still do, struggle to love my body as I feel like it is letting me down so much. I think I’m getting there now, but like most people, there are good days and bad days.
Dealing with PCOS Daily
I think that learning how you deal with things day to day helps you over time. I know when I am in a ragey mood, and then I know that I can take myself out of the situation so that it doesn’t make it worse. I know that I need to take my self-care seriously, and have a go-to hobby that I can enjoy alone to unwind. I have regular reflexology treatments too, which I personally think are amazing; they help me a lot.
As for things like supplements, I take an iron supplement to help energy levels. My periods are irregular, but when I do get them, they last a while and are pretty heavy, so I am anemic too. It just keeps getting better, ha.
Advice For Others
Everyone is different, but after going through this for over two years, I have a few things that I would say to someone. Take it step by step, and make sure that you are doing small things each day to help you. Self-care is important, especially on your down days. And if you need to talk or get help, make sure that you do. You’re not manly and you can do things to manage your weight and the other symptoms that bother you.
I hope that this has been of interest to those that need it. I written about it on here before, and the majority of my recipes on the site are PCOS-friendly. I would love to hear what you think!
*post in collaboration with Nature’s Best. All words and opinions are my own.