PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome isn't normally something I or anyone else for that matter ever talks about but the more I think about it, the more I believe that we as women should be talking about it. We should know the signs and the symptoms, if not for ourselves for our teenage daughters.
Why? Because if caught early on, many possible outcomes could be prevented, the biggest being infertility. I know - this is not the easiest discussion to have even with ourselves. Anytime mention of "irregular periods," and "infertility" come up, we duck for cover claiming "T.M.I" or "too much information" but if we don't talk about it, this seemingly small health problem will only continue to grow at an alarming rate and the thousands of women already suffering from the countless crazy symptoms caused by PCOS will be forced to cope with them alone.
I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 33 by a Infertility Specialist in Corona, Ca. The path to this very long and painful end result was in no way an easy one. I have always thought of myself as a "naturally positive minded person" and I still do despite everything but I think it's important to reveal to others what I've struggled with for years to hopefully shed some light on PCOS and maybe even help other women get diagnosed much sooner than I was. Why? Because when it comes to women with PCOS and pregnancy, TIME is the ultimate deciding factor. In other words, my best chances at getting pregnant and keeping the pregnancy would have been in my early twenties not now in my late thirties.
First of all, PCOS is a syndrome, not a disease and symptoms vary from person to person. For me, they began in Jr. High with very irregular periods. After high school, my irregular periods persisted and I began to develop headaches, mood swings and bouts of depression followed by anxiety attacks and painful periods that made me wish I could disappear. Thoughout this time on several occasions I did mention my symptoms to my Dr. but he always waved them off and never ordered any kind of tests or special examinations - his only suggestion to me was to take "the pill" to regulate my periods.
In 2000, I went to the emergency room because of horrible pain in my abdomen - it turned out to be a cyst that had burst. When asked, the Dr. said that there was nothing that could be done to prevent it from happening again and there were no explanations as to why it happened in the first place. (Cysts in the ovaries IS a clear indication of PCOS) Then in my mid twenties I began to deal with both facial and body hair that naturally made me feel extremely self conscious and undoubtedly "less than" as a woman. ("embaressing issue" doesn't even begin to cover it)
It was not long after this that Leo and I decided to try to get pregnant and I did get pregnant after a little over a year but a month later at my second ultrasound appointment, they didn't find anything, just an empty sac. It was definitely painful to say the least. It didn't help that my Dr. at the time was extremely cold and unprofessional. (I could write a whole other post on my crazy experiences with doctors) I ended up having a DNC within a couple of days and we were told that we could try again in a few months. I wasn't able to get pregnant again for nearly a year and a half - I found out I was pregnant in early December but my hormone levels did not increase and I ended up miscarrying on New Year's Eve.
I am have been on and off the train of indecisiveness. One moment I am done and ready to move on! and the next moment I am a ball of emotions not wanting to give up. It would definitely be easier if my infertility was definite and without any resolution. PCOS as a whole is not life threatening but it has had a very BIG impact on my life, whether I'd like to admit it or not. It's become the part of me that I don't necessarily like, the part of me I wish I could change or pretend doesn't exist but it's with me everyday, every hour, every minute. This is why I have to believe....I need to believe that that education IS the key to preventing infertility in PCOS patients and it is equally important to find the right answers early on.
One thing's for sure, the biggest lesson I learned in all of this is YOU have be your own advocate. YOU have to follow your instincts and INSIST on answers. PCOS is not widely recognized nor is it brought up much in the media but it should be for obvious reasons. You can help by educating yourself, then spreading the word to your family and friends. Who knows? You could help a family member or a friend finally get one step closer to the right diagnosis.
Did you know?
* About 1 in 10 women of child bearing age has PCOS
* It can occur in young girls as young as 11 years old
* PCOS is the most common cause of infertility for women
Link to Additional Information on PCOS: