I missed it last month, but I'm back now to link up with Medical Monday, hosted this month by Jane at From a Doctor's Wife and Emma at Your Doctor's Wife.
Today I'm getting very personal. I try to avoid anything that brings you into the very centre of our private life, but as this issue is more about me than our marriage, I'm opening up. In a way, I find writing about my issues is cathartic. Disclaimer: I'm trying not to overshare, but if you're freaked out by any mention of "lady issues", you may want to pass on this entry.
At 19 years old, I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I had really no idea what that meant, and as these were the days before Google, I accepted the doctor's statement that I shouldn't worry. She put me on birth control pills to regulate my (barely existent) cycles, and I pretty much put it at the back of my mind.
Fast forward about 11 years. When I was about to get married, I started researching PCOS, and found lots of scary stories from women who couldn't get pregnant or needed considerable interventions to have children. (This is probably why most doctors (my hubby included) scorn WebMD and "Dr Google"!) I became terrified that conceiving would be very difficult for us, but as we had decided to wait a year or two before trying, I again tried not to think about PCOS.
In the past few months, we've stopped using birth control to try to have a child, and my cycles have become more erratic. The last one was a full 6 weeks long. I am becoming more and more afraid that conceiving naturally is unlikely and interventions are in our future.
PCOS is an endocrine disorder that is thought to affect 5-10% of women of reproductive age. In layman's terms, your hormones are out of whack, which can cause anovulation (not ovulating) or irregular ovulation, acne, hirsutism AKA "excessive hairiness" (thankfully I don't have that!!), and even insulin resistance which can lead to obesity or diabetes. I'm kind of angry that no one told me most of this when I was first diagnosed, especially the insulin resistance because it can lead to life-altering diseases. I've found this to be a common thread in many PCOS women: Doctors gave them the Pill to "fix things", and only later did they realize that the pills don't actually solve the problem, but only mask the symptoms.
The truth is, we don't really know how many women with PCOS are able to conceive without interventions. Using Google or searching message boards will skew the results, since people who conceive on their own are less likely to blog or post about their pregnancy journey. I am likely getting way ahead of myself in freaking out, but I also don't want to be taken unaware.
In the short term, I'm focusing on what I can do NOW to make my body as healthy as possible. A good diet and regular exercise have been shown to regulate cycles, something I have definitely experienced in the past. Because of the link between PCOS and insulin-resistance, avoiding sugar and complex carbohydrates can also have a positive link between regulating the hormone issues and increasing overall health. (Seriously, I have the biggest sweet tooth in town; why did no doctor EVER tell me that sugar is especially bad for those with PCOS?? *Sigh*) There are women who claim to have "cured" their hormonal imbalances just through diet and exercise. I don't necessarily believe I can do that, but am definitely open to any change that could have a positive effect on my reproductive health.
If you have PCOS, I'd love to hear your experiences. Has diet and exercise impacted your symptoms? Have you had to use Clomid or Metformin to have children?