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Saturday, September 26, 2015

My PCOS journey

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As we come to the end of September and at the end of  Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, I would like to talk about my own ovarian health issue, on that is also a risk factor for Ovarian Cancer. One that has been give very little attention, but affects millions of women in America and across the world. That is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, commonly referred to as PCOS.  is a syndrome that can encompasses a variety of medical conditions , but is usually hallmarked by frequent irregular or complete lack of periods, hormonal imbalances,  and small cyst fluid filled cyst in your ovaries, detected only by ultrasound. Many women don't realize they have the condition until they're ready to attempt conception or a very astute doctor puts the pieces of the puzzle together. 
For me my story began at 15 years old, when my mom realized that I had stopped asking her to buy pads or coming into her room to take my usual pack. I believe it had been approximately 3 months, and being a heavy set child, although I had begun to lose weight at that point, it would've been pretty easy to conceal a pregnancy, in her eyes at least, but the monkey wrench in the story, I wasn't sexually active.
 Determined to figure out if I was knocked up or not, my mom took me to a gynecologist who hammered me with questions about my sexual status. I adamantly told him I was a virgin, and he continued his interrogation and asked me the same question in different ways so much, I began to question myself, lol. He even escorted my mom out and asked me alone. I don't blame him, while I was mortified then, but as an adult I realized, I was an inner city child, who had girls popping up in  school pregnant all around me. A 15 year being pregnant in Irvington would've been a pretty standard diagnosis to me too. When all was said and done and I took my pregnancy testing, It was negative. He quickly apologized and gave me a prescription for a pill to take every 3 months if I didn't menstruate and sent me on my merry way, chalking it up to a hormone imbalance.

Through my late teens and  early twenties, I masked my lack of a period,  with birth control, as I desperately wanted to finish nursing school without any instances of baby. I gained weight uncontrollably ,40 lbs to be exact, and began to sprout facial hair on my chin , similar to a beard, but again no one investigated anything. I even remember a conversation with one gynecologist about my massive unexplained weight gain, despite working out 3 days a week and eating better, while discussing my lack of a period, she wanted me to start on birth control. I didn't want to return to birth control because it made me gain weight, she simply looked at me and stated, "You ever think it is the food you put in your mouth?" I could've kicked her right then and there as she was investigating my neither regions, but ultimately I was embarrassed. It took a well meaning slightly hyperactive doctor who's alarms went off when she asked me the usual questions about my period, she was the only who kept prying and wanted to find an answer. She wanted to do lab studies, she order the ultrasound and a few weeks later, I was armed with a diagnosis and my shinny new prescription for Metformin.
Fast forward, now 6 years later, she moved, I moved and my PCOS for the most part has been poorly managed. I've gained a lot of weight from bad eating, lack of exercise, and lack of management of my condition. I've skipped many doses of metformin simply because it doesn't really work that great. Also the stigma of being on metformin drives me nuts. You know how many times that I've to explain to ignorant doctors, nurses, and techs, that naturally assume because I'm overweight and on metformin, that it is okay to jump right into a discussion about my diabetes. Then having to explain why I do none of the things that you are asking me about because I'm actually not a diabetic and if you read the 5 page form of medical history or looked at your computers for reason I wrote down for metformin prescription, it clearly says PCOS. Ok ok woooosahhhhh.

I've decided now to take a more proactive stance on my PCOS and hope those that are reading and may have the condition decide to do the same. I'm so glad to be in the era that we are in, where there is so much literature and support groups at our fingertips.

I've decided to completely overhaul my maintenance routine based on literature and studies.
Before I was on a dose of 1000 mg dose of metformin XL once daily.
I have decided to stop metformin, with my doctor's knowledge of course, and replace it with inositol (myo-inositol) 6 mg daily + 400 mcg of folic acid daily. As there are studies that suggest that the combination not only makes the parts of the syndrome that I struggle with the most: my weight, but reduces the symptom of hirsutism (Male patterned hair growth, no more beard!) and allows the participants to regain a normal menstrual cycle.

I plan on keeping you up dated on my journey and hope to check back in within a month and see how it's going.

Some great resources for PCOS suffers are:

About Inositol: All about the inosotol family.

Do you have PCOS or know someone who does? How do you manage your symptoms? Think you have it and our curious to find out more? Please leave a comment below!

Toodles Darlings!

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