Image Source: The Mayo Clinic
It dawned on me lately that I have been so busy focusing on getting the weight off and just dealing with my medical issues that while I have a basic understanding of the issues in my life I have yet to take a deeper look into a lot of them. It is so easy when dealing with medical issues to get caught up in your own struggle that you forget that there are so many others who are dealing with them too. That being said, I have decided to take the next few weeks and take a deeper look into my different Conditions and Diseases that I have been left to deal with. It is looking at being a 3-4 part series.
In my initial research for this post I started my search looking for lists of celebrities that have been confirmed to have the various medical issues. I found many blogs full of bitter women discussing rumors of celebrities. I quickly became very grateful to God for protecting my heart from that negative view point. Seeing those women belittling and bemoaning the world around them because of their condition makes me grateful that I am filled with the ability to look at everything with a positive perspective.
After looking a little deeper into the subject I stumbled across some good websites with some wonderful information. This post is for the many readers who follow along not just for the weight loss journey but also find themselves Sisters (or Brothers) in arms in the battle with one or more of my medical conditions.
POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME a.k.a. POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME a.k.a. PCOS
So what is PCOS? PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is found most commonly in women with some sort of hormonal imbalance. The unbalance of the hormones causes the development of follicles in your ovaries to cease the development process mid way through. The would be egg then dissolves leaving small little pockets in your ovaries called cysts. This then causes your periods to become irregular or non-existent. The problem in my understanding is that these cysts aren’t just empty pockets. With each cyst comes an extra dose of hormones that further throws your body out of whack.
According to my gynecologist in a recent appointment, women with PCOS have two healthy states for the body to be in, option A: on birth control, option B: pregnant. The in-between of no birth control and not pregnant is bad because it increases the chance for more cysts to develop on the ovaries. The more cysts the harder it is to deal with the syndrome.
In most cases the common first step for a woman suspected to have PCOS is to have her loose 5- 10% of her body weight. This is because studies have found that fat cells are carriers for extra amounts of hormones such as estrogen. The fat cells release these extra bits of hormones causing a vicious cycle of making the problem worse. However all those extra and unbalanced hormones wreak havoc on a woman’s ability to lose that weight. It is almost a catch 22 and is very discouraging for a lot of women.
So what are some of the issues that are commonly found with PCOS?
- Insulin Resistance
- Adult onset/ extreme acne issues
- Hair issues (excessive hair growth/ hair loss)
- Thyroid issues
- Irregular/ Non- existent periods
- Weight issues most commonly obesity issues
- Excess levels of androgens (a.k.a. male hormones)
- Multiple small cysts on the ovaries
In poking around for this section of this article the fact that I came across that was most surprising to me was that even though PCOS is not something that is very well known or talked about it actually affects 1 in every 10 women. I think that what keeps women from opening up about it is the infertility, especially for the single ladies out there.
The word infertility brings with it lots of big bad and downright scary connotations with it. I remember sitting at the computer when I was first looking into PCOS and was trying to figure out what it was and why I was being recommended diabetic medication to treat it. The terror that set in my gut at seeing that one little word was significant. It was only with my husband by my side that I was able to face that fear and put it past me. If I had been diagnosed while I was still single I am not sure what I would have done. The day I was sitting in my Gynecologists office and he confirmed that I indeed have PCOS my heart sank into the deepest pit of my stomach convinced that meant that I could never get pregnant. There were a few moments there where I was swimming in guilt and shame convinced that because I had allowed my weight to get out of hand that I had created my own down fall. It was then that my doctor reassured me of two very important things; number 1: my issue with my weight was NOT the cause of the PCOS just an effect, number 2: of the different ways women become infertile this by far is the easiest to undo.
Why it is important to not ignore this or attempt to face it alone?
The journey and battle with PCOS is a hard one. I doubt that even the strongest woman could face this issue alone without breaking down. The path to getting everything balanced is rough and challenging. Everyone is different and every case reacts to treatments differently. Because of this there is always a bit of a guessing game in the process to find the right meds at the right levels to balance out your case. And because our bodies are forever changing that small window of happy balance will change from time to time as well. Having that support around you while you go through these ups and downs makes all the difference.
As far as why it is best not to ignore this goes, there is the obvious that the longer you go without balancing this out the worse the long term effects can get. However there is an even bigger reason to face this and get treated and monitored that is the insulin resistance that very commonly tags along for the ride with PCOS. If left untreated that insulin resistance could develop into Pre diabetes or Type II diabetes.
For a condition in women that is so common there are so few who actually openly talk about it. Don’t let yourself feel ashamed about it. You never know who you might be helping by opening up. And if I can help just one person to feel that they are not going through this alone all the better.
Who are a few well known people who suffer PCOS?
From what I could find of a few rather reliable looking websites here are a few that seem to have confirmed PCOS:
A few websites that I have found informational:
After taking some time to really look into PCOS I find that while being diagnosed with it can seem very scary and daunting, it is not something to be ashamed about nor is it something to hide in the closet. Too many of our Sisters in Arms don’t speak out about it making it this big dark black hole to many as they are diagnosed. For something that occurs so commonly in women, knowledge of this syndrome should be more common place. If you are one of my readers who happens to be a sister in arms with this syndrome know you are not alone! I am here to stand beside you and we can get through this!
If you are just learning about PCOS and are in the process of figuring out whether or not you have it know this, It is not the end of the world. With proper treatment and monitoring from the doctors PCOS is very manageable and you can go on to lead healthy normal lives. And yes, my doctor assures me, it is very possible to get pregnant with this condition. It just means you have to jump a few more hoops to get pregnant then other women. But in the end, it just makes those babies that much more special to us. Are there hard times ahead? Yes, but aren’t there always hard times ahead. The best thing you can do is to is to trust in God and remember that he is always in control and that PCOS is VERY treatable.
For those out there that wish to reach out to me with questions about PCOS and feel uncomfortable about posting in the comments thread, feel free to contact me at PCOS@thegracefulskinny.com .