Surprise! You have ovaries full of cysts!
That is definitely not what I wanted to learn from my OB/GYN after an ultrasound, but she confirmed my suspicions.
Between 5-10% of woman of childbearing age have PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I want to share with you what PCOS is, and what I have done to help manage my symptoms.
Basically, PCOS is a hormone imbalance that causes small cysts to develop in a woman’s ovaries. They usually come and go, although sometimes the cysts do need to be popped.
While PCOS is not fatal, it is a pain in the ass to live with. It also predisposes women to heart disease and diabetes if it goes untreated. It sucks that no one knows what causes it, and there is no cure.
Here is a list of common PCOS symptoms:
- Elevated risk for diabetes. Many women with PCOS take Metformin to help regulate this.
- Depression or anxiety.
- Acne, oily skin, dandruff.
- Excess hair growth, known as hirsutism. It can be on the chin, neck, chest, stomach, or back.
- Fertility issues. Many, though not all, women with PCOS have difficulty conceiving.
- Irregular periods. They can be to frequent, too infrequent, or extremely heavy.
- Thinning or balding hair. It can be in small patches or full-on pattern baldness.
- Difficulty losing weight. Because of those icky, stubborn hormones, women in our condition are most always overweight and losing weight is harder than for most people.
- Sleep apnea.
- Skin tags.
After I was diagnosed at age 31 – and I suffer from every single symptom mentioned above – I wasn’t about to live with PCOS without a fight. I got an IUD to help ease the suffering with my extremely heavy periods. It was a lifesaver because my Mirena made my periods stop altogether. Gone were the cramps, bizarre food cravings, and wild mood swings.
However, my OB/GYN referred me to an endocrinologist to help with the prediabetes and the stubborn weight I could not lose no matter how hard I tried. But the less-than-compassionate endocrinologist said all she could do was refer me for bariatric surgery.
Have my stomach stapled? She couldn’t even refer me to a dietician?! Screw that!
That experience left a bitter taste in my mouth, but I took up jogging and did lose some weight. Because of that and taking Metformin, I am no longer prediabetic. I also take anti-depressants, which I am not ashamed to say.
I can’t deny that living with PCOS sucks. Because it does suck – a lot. I can live with the bald spots and the nasty hirsutism, but barely being able to lose weight and the depression due to hormones make me furious. I don’t like the thought of my own body betraying me.
You do not have to suffer in silence. There are some great Facebook groups for women with PCOS – the biggest being “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).” Just type that in the search bar. It has over 16,000 members, but so many of them are trying to conceive that the drama is too much for me. I like “PCOS not TTC (trying to conceive”. At over 1,000 members, it is still a big group, but we are all just trying to live with our symptoms and not baby-crazy.
It’s strange to think tiny little cysts in my ovaries have caused so many issues with my health. But I do not let my PCOS define who I am. I got birth control that works for me, I eat healthy (most of the time), and I exercise to manage my symptoms. Menopause is a long ways away, but I will manage this disease as best I can.
Do you know anyone who suffers from PCOS? Comment below!