I’ve spent a lot of time researching PCOS over the course of the last week, which has been an incredible eye opener. I thought I had done a fair amount of research when I first started my IVF journey, but it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.
PCOS affects each woman differently. Here I had been so convinced that while I had PCOS, my PCOS wasn’t “that bad”. That’s not necessarily true; how my PCOS manifests itself is completely different from the next person. My symptoms aren’t as visible as many other sufferers. But they are most definitely there.
My depression, that seems to appear out of the blue. My anxiety, that started rearing its ugly head in my late 20s. The insomnia that comes in fits and starts. The incredible fatigue that plagues me so frequently. And my weekly headaches. Here, I had been so focused on the visible symptoms of PCOS such as acne and Hirsutism; the symptoms I didn’t have. “Surely, my case can’t be that bad, because of X, Y, Z.” False confidence is a sonofabitch.
I came across a website in which a woman claims to have treated her PCOS enough to fall pregnant naturally. While my PCOS isn’t the primary cause of our fertility issues, I figured trying to treat my PCOS and reduce my symptoms definitely wouldn’t hurt. After all, our doctor said it wouldn’t be impossible to get pregnant on our own. Not probable, but not impossible. Cue my best Lloyd Christmas impression….
The more I’ve researched PCOS, the more enlightened I’ve become about the different types of PCOS: Insulin resistant, immune related, environmental, post pill, or perhaps, even a combination of all four. We know I’m insulin resistant, and one of the best ways to cure insulin resistance PCOS is to lose weight. Well, I’ve lost about 25 pounds, and yet there’s been no real change in my symptoms. I’m still regularly irregular. I say that because I am fortunate in that I ovulate regularly, it’s just in an irregular time frame. Women who ovulate normally typically ovulate every 21-35 days, whereas I ovulate every 36-42. See? Regularly irregular. And yet, despite that, I consider myself fairly lucky. There are some women who go MONTHS without ovulating.
Hindsight being 20/20, I’m not surprised that my menstrual cycle didn’t become more regular with weight loss. I’ve always had longer cycles, regardless of whether or not I’ve been at the target weight for someone of my height. So, there’s got to be something else that’s also affecting my cycle.
My next thought is that perhaps, my PCOS is the result of immune related or environmental issues. As such, I have an appointment with an allergist today to get my first allergy test done in close to 30 years. My mom has been pushing me to have an allergy test for quite some time, and now that I’ve hit my insurance deductible for the year, it seemed like a good time to do it. YOU’RE WELCOME, MOM.
In all seriousness, my mom has been an advocate of allergy testing for years. I was the child that was allergic to everything as a young kid. I grew out of a lot of it as I got older, but I randomly break out in hives and rashes somewhat frequently, so it might finally be nice to see what causes these outbreaks. It’s possible that an undiagnosed food allergy could be producing a hormonal imbalance, which could affect my cycle.
Finally, I’ve joined a PCOS challenge. It’s a 30-day challenge that teaches you how to treat PCOS with diet and lifestyle changes. It starts November 17th, and offers meal plans, recipes and shopping lists to help with the overall success of the challenge. The best part is that the first 9 days are spent learning how to implement the changes. The implementation of the diet doesn’t start until day 10, so I’ll still be able to get weird with some turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing on Thanksgiving.
I’m excited to implement these changes over the next few weeks to see if they make a difference. For some women, these subtle changes can result in immediate relief from their symptoms. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I end up falling in that group as well.