Here I am, 39 years old. I am six months away from turning 40. I am not quite sure when the symptoms of PCOS started. I do know that when I was a teenager, I had horrible periods. I would have such bad cramps that I would miss school at least once a month. I tried everything from medication to crazy treatments that were handed down by generations of women. I was a skinny little thing growing up. When I was 19, I finally saw a doctor about my issues with anxiety and period issues. I was put on birth control for the period issues.
I began putting on weight. I stopped taking birth control and I literally blew up. It was really tough because I was raised to think my worth was in my looks. The mom issues are for another blog. I was in and out of doctors because I felt horrible. I would miss periods and have to take pregnancy tests because I had never heard of PCOS. At that time, I had no idea that I had anything too serious. Around the age of 22, I missed a period for three months. When I did end up having one, it was so heavy and horrible that I was stuck in bed for days. The doctor had thought it was stress. She could not explain why I had gained weight or having issues. She figured it was because I was part of the “real world” now. That means, I was out of college with a full-time job. I still exercised and ate healthy, yet I kept putting on weight.
When I was 25, things took a turn. I ended up in the emergency room because of having a period that would not end. It was heavy and painful. I was finally diagnosed with PCOS. I was told that I would probably never have children, if I just lost weight that the symptoms would dissipate, and that there was no cure. I bought every book that I could on the subject. I joined online groups. I needed to learn all that I could. I was put on metformin.
On a side note, I have struggled with depression, anxiety, and self-worth issues my whole life. I was in several abusive relationships in my early 20’s. At this point, I was in a depression and I was continuing to slip right down the drain. I was drinking heavily and stopped taking my medications.
I was 30 and had a good job and a nice boyfriend (or so I thought). I had not had a “real” period in months. I say real, because I spotted every month. I began a period in March of 2011. By April, I finally went to the emergency room because it was so heavy and was not stopping. My blood count was still good and I was sent away with an appointment with an obgyn. By the time that appointment came around, my boyfriend had broken up with me. I had been in so much pain and was bleeding through pads every other hour. I woke up that morning and I was white as a piece of paper. I felt so faint. My mom drove me to the doctor and when she took blood, I nearly passed out. She had made an appointment for me to have surgery on Friday (it was Tuesday) to stop the bleeding. However, an hour later, she called me and told me I needed to get to the hospital right away. My hemoglobin level was at 5. Transfusion levels are at a 7 or 8. I needed a transfusion and I needed one now. By the time we got to the hospital, I could no longer walk. I had to be wheeled in. I ended up with a blood transfusion and a dilation and curettage surgery.
It turns out that my uterine lining was over ten centimeters. Because I have had a blood clot in the past, I am not a candidate for oral contraceptives. I ended up having an IUD put in. I am now on my second one, and it has been a life saver.
The journey I have been on with PCOS has not been easy. There are many symptoms of PCOS and not everyone suffers the same way. I was taken off of metformin a couple years ago due to stomach issues. My doctor does not like to put people on metformin unless they meet the diabetic levels on their A1C. Since I test under, I am safe for now.
Some of the symptoms that I have with PCOS are the insulin resistance and inability to lose weight properly, oily skin and acne (though that has gotten better with age), missed and heavy periods (I am not sure if I still have this due to the IUD), anxiety and depression, cysts on my ovaries, I have never been pregnant, and others that may not be typical of PCOS, such as stomach issues.
PCOS is beginning to gain momentum in the medical field and more attention and funds are being given to the study of it. It is thought that one in ten women suffer from PCOS, but there is talk that it may be as many as one in five. There is also rumors that PCOS may be renamed to better include all of the symptoms. It is not clear what causes PCOS.
Fighting PCOS every day is exhausting, but I know that I am not alone. I will not stop in educating others about it. There are days that I have to push through it and there are days where I feel good. I am still on this journey and will be for the rest of my life. This year things are changing. I am taking better care of myself than I have in the past. There are so many misconceptions about PCOS and I am here to set the record straight and share my journey with others. I hope sharing helps keep me heal and keep myself in check. I also hope it helps to educate and inspire others.