Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Hello lovelies and WELCOME BACK!
I know it has been quite a while, but a lot has changed since last we chatted! In fact, my life has completely changed since the last time I wrote for Content by Kristyn. For almost one year now I have not been myself. It has been months of horrible cramping, nausea, bloating, painful acne and weight gain. I had no idea what was happening to me - why was I always feeling sick? I was eating healthy and exercising regularly, so why was I still getting acne and gaining weight? The answer: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
“PCOS is a health problem that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect their overall health and appearance. PCOS is also a common and treatable cause of infertility” (Women’s Health).
As usual, I want to begin with a little disclaimer… I AM NOT A DOCTOR. I am simply writing this post based on knowledge that I have gained through my hours of research online. Additionally, every single woman’s body is unique, so the symptoms that I experience may not be the same as everyone else’s. I started this blog as a medium to offer support, inspiration and helpful tips to anyone who visits, so I am taking this opportunity to share my specific experiences with you all. We are all trudging our way through this messy life together, so if any of my experiences can help even one person to feel like they are not alone than I will be extremely happy!
OKAY, rant over! LEt’s Talk basics about Pcos:
While the exact cause of PCOS is not entirely known, two of the most common causes seem to be high levels of Insulin or Androgens (or sometimes both). In my case, for example, I suffer from higher than average levels of androgens, such as Testosterone. While all women produce small amounts of androgens, having too much can lead to hormonal acne, and reproductive issues. For me, this means that my body does not ovulate on a regular schedule, making it extremely difficult for me to get pregnant without going through intensive hormonal treatments. This varies from woman to woman, so everyone experiences PCOS in a very different way!
Anxiety and stress can lead to heightened levels of cortisol and insulin (as your blood glucose levels are increasing). This sends triggers to your ovaries telling them that they need to produce more testosterone, ultimately leading to some or all of the following symptoms:
Excess hair (body)
Hair loss (head)
What I am most grateful for, however, is that unlike other conditions affecting your ovaries, all of the above symptoms of PCOS are TREATABLE! This was a huge relief for Shawn (my super supportive boyfriend) and I when we found out that I had PCOS and not Endometriosis, which can be less treatable in terms of the infertility symptom.
Of the many symptoms I experience, the acne and weight gain are by far the MOST ANNOYING. I am 23 years old, so walking around with acne all over my face is definitely not my favourite thing. While it brings up some old insecurities for me, dietary changes (which I will discuss in a moment) have proven to be extremely helpful in reducing the acne and inflammation, while aiding in the weight loss process as well.
Once Shawn and I decide that we want to get pregnant, I will have to undergo an extensive hormonal therapy treatment (I honestly do not know much about what this entails as the doctor said we will discuss it more later on, so I can’t fill you in on that part just yet). Until then, however, all I can really do is attempt to balance the hormones in my body through more “natural” methods, such as a new diet and exercise routine. *
My family doctor assured me that altering my diet was not a necessity, but that there could definitely be positive benefits from choosing to make some changes. After scouring the internet, I found lots of helpful shared experiences from other women who have PCOS, so I decided to give it a try. I have been following these dietary changes for 1 month now, and no BS… I am already starting to reap the benefits!
1. Gluten Free
2. Dairy Free
3. Sugar Free
4. Low Carb
5. No Red Meats
I KNOW… is there anything that I can eat?! I am not going to lie to you… when I first started reading the accounts of different women who made these dietary changes I felt extremely overwhelmed. I knew that I would not be able to stick with it if I thought of it as a “diet” so I changed my perspective and the way I looked at my life. LONG story short, I try to refer to these dietary changes as a new lifestyle! I know it seems silly but this tiny change of mind set has made it much easier for me to stick with all of the changes!
*Note: I was told that a great way to alleviate some of the symptoms (such as acne, weight gain, irregular periods and pelvic pain) is by taking a hormonal birth control pill. Due to specific circumstances in my personal health history, I chose to not opt for this option. I was on a hormonal birth control pill for 7 years, and only recently stopped taking it (about one year ago), so I did not want to revert back to that option (for many people, this is an extremely helpful solution though). If you have more questions about why I stopped taking birth control and the pros and cons of both sides, please let me know in the comments below and I would be more than happy to write a post focusing on all things birth control.
I know that this is not the most exciting post, however, I hope you found it informative! I have been trying my best to do my own research and figure all of this out as quickly as possible, but I am realizing that this is going to be a lifelong learning process and I am up for the challenge! If you have any more questions for me about my situation, or about PCOS in general, let me know in the comments down below, and I will do my best to answer (or provide you with a link to helpful resources).
Thanks for sticking around and reading about all of the hormonal fun going on in my life! See you in the next one!