"Exercise is the key not only to physical health but to peace of mind" - Nelson Mandela
Disclaimer: I will be mentioning my cycle and I'm not a doctor. Everything I'll be discussing is what I've learned from experience and doing my own research.
PCOS is polycystic ovary syndrome which is a genetic, hormonal, metabolic, and reproductive disorder that affects women. It's the leading cause of female infertility and no one knows the exactly cause of this condition. One in ten women has PCOS. (PCOS challenge INC, 2018)
Last summer (July 2020) I was diagnosed with PCOS, but it was a long road that led to this point. Let's get into it.
I got my first cycle summer 2009 (I was 13 yrs old) and it was normal for the first few months. October 2009, my cycle was still going for over a month which prompted several doctor visits including a stomach ultrasound, blood work, and seeing an OBGYN. None of the doctors could explain what was going on and going into month four (Feb. 2010) of still being on my cycle some solutions were presented to my momma and I. Literally y'all my cycle stayed on for four months and I became anemia too.
The two options I remember my doctor discussing was different forms of birth control or hormone shots. My momma and I decided taking the pill would be the easiest for me, mind you I'm only 14 during this time. My cycle finally stopped once I started the pill and from 2010 to 2020, I was on birth control and I had a regular cycle outside of 2014, where I switched to IUD for 10 months & my cycle stopped again, but of course it resumed after I started the pill again.
February 2020, marked ten years I've been on birth control (BC) and I was tired of the side effects meaning mood swings and weight issues. Being on BC was convenient for my dating life and my partner at that time understood why I wanted to stop taking them. Instead of calling my doctor to refill the prescription for another year I stopped taking them.
I went for my annual physical April 2020, and it's been two months since I stopped BC and I hadn't had a cycle yet which my doctor explained was normal because I was on the pill for a decade and it's going to take my body a while before I start cycling on my own. I went for a follow up appt in May 2020, and still no cycle so my doctor referred me to an OBGYN because at this point I should've gotten a cycle by then.
During my first OBGYN appt. we discussed my family history, sex life, and menstrual history. She mentioned I could have PCOS, fibroids, thyroid issues, or endometriosis. I got some blood work done which didn't indicated any issues and I had another appt. for a vaginal ultrasound a few weeks later. Well the vaginal ultrasound revealed I had cysts on my ovaries and from the sonogram that shit looked like a beehive. My doctor explained what polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) was and what to expect with this condition. There's no cure for this condition and it's often misdiagnosed. My doctor goes on to explain that I probably had PCOS back in 2009 but due to lack of research my doctors overlooked it.
Here's a list of symptoms & how it's affected me
Acne: my cheeks stay under attack. Adding a night time face routine and moisturizer has helped. I'm currently saving up for a chemical peel to remove the acne scars.
Irregular or heavy periods. The most prominent symptom, and for me I haven't experienced a cycle that wasn't prompted by BC or hormone pill.
Mood swings. I'm hella moody and the onliest things sets me off and makes me want to burst out into tears (Y'all know I hate crying.)
Fatigue. I easily get tired and I take a nap almost every day especially before work.
Weight change. For some reason excessive weight gain is prominent. From Feb 2020- April 2020 I gained 20 lbs, granted we were in quarantine but still 20 lbs WTF. Also the more you weigh the harder it is to cycle normally. My regular doctor and OBGYN has encouraged me to lose weight but I have to take excessive measures such as detoxes, meal replacement shakes, weight loss pills, etc. to lose weight. My weight over the last year has been up and down. I recently lost 10 lbs from working so much and I'm doing flat tummy meal replacement shakes for breakfast. I'm aiming to lose 13 more lbs but it's been tough.
Anxiety. I was diagnosed with this back in 2017 and I'm sure going through PCOS increases my anxiety levels sometimes.
Depression. I have and still experience depressive episodes.
Insulin resistance. This condition effects your body using insulin effectively and causes pre-diabetes which leads to being insulin dependent. Metformin is a medication that helps your body reduce being insulin resistance. Lower insulin levels along with losing weight is supposed to help your body cycle normally. I did briefly take metformin last year which helped me lose 10 lbs, but it was recalled and I decided not take it once it was able to be prescribed again. Thankfully I haven't been diagnosed with pre-diabetes but I'm conscious of what I eat and thankfully I'm not a sweets lover.
Low sex drive. Never experienced this symptom (inserts dancing gif ahaha)
Excessive hair growth or loss. I've experienced both. I get my eyebrows and coochie waxed and every few months my edges on the right side gets thin as hell. Miracle drops and Mielle Organics rosemary mint strengthening oil brings my edges back every time.
Infertility. Another main side effect is not being able to have kids or planning early to have kids as it may be a challenge to get pregnant. I'm not sure if this is a symptom I'm going to experience but I'm very fearful that due to this condition I may never have kids (insert crying emoji).
Ovarian cyst. As you already know my uterus is a beehive and outside of cramping my cyst don't bother me.
Raised levels of testosterone. This symptom is why my doctor did blood work and ruled it out. Too much testosterone and not enough estrogen can suppress menstruation.
Darkening of the skin. Within the last six months I've noticed that my inner thighs and on my breast I'll see darker patches on my skin but the patches naturally go away.
I cried so much after that second appt. as I looked at my family board on Pinterest and came to terms that although I don't want kids right now I may never get to carry my own baby. If I never hated answering questions about having a family and wanting kids, I definitely get in my feelings now about the baby and family topic.
Moving forward I was supposed to schedule another doctor appt. if I didn't have a cycle by the end of 2020. Mind you it's July 2020, I've had two cycles at the beginning of the year and I'm going into six months of no cycle. My doctor mentioned having less than four cycles a year is dangerous and unhealthy. Thanks to my current sex choices I took a plan B in September 2020 which triggered a cycle and honestly up until June 2021 the only way I'll get a cycle is if I take a plan B. I wouldn't suggest anyone does this as a form of birth control but like I said earlier I was tired of how daily BC made me feel and of course condoms are overrated when your fucking with somebody heavy, so naturally plan B was the best option.
I had my most recent doctor appt in June 2021, where she encouraged me to get on BC instead of plan Bs and I told her absolutely not so she suggested a hormone pill that has less side effects than BC. I decided to give it a try. I take a pill for the first 10 days of every month which prompts my cycle to regulation and over time I'll get a cycle monthly. This pill is not birth control.
I took the pills at the beginning of July and literally by the 9th day my cycle started. This cycle lasted for 8 days which is the longest cycle I've had since 2009 and my mood was horrible. I was so mean to my mom and my guy friend. I also had a lot of other shit going on along while taking this hormone pill that made me feel depressed as hell. For the month of August since it's my birthday month I decided not to take the pills. I wanted to enjoy myself without feeling like a moody ass bitch.
Now it's September and I'm giving these pills a try for the second time. I finished this dose of the pill on the 10th and I hate it. The first few days were cool but the last few days made me feel moody, depressed, and tearful. It's honestly been a rough week for me. I've been in the bed due to cramping and I've slept this week away due to fatigue. I reached out to my doctor to discuss other options and I don't foresee me taking this hormone pill ever again. I have a doctor appt. schedule for Oct. 1st to discuss this pill and other methods I've researched for managing PCOS.
I'm looking into holistic methods such as yoni steams, monitoring what I'm eating, juicing, and making an effort to lose weight. There's two types of non-hormonal pills I've heard of that has good reviews. Good Girl probiotics (I've actually taken these) is great for overall vaginal health and my doctor recommended these as well. Myo & D Chiro Inositol Blend is great and can be purchased on Amazon. From the reviews these pills heavily increase fertility and since I'm not ready for kids I'm delaying trying these pills. This may sound crazy but within the next few years I'm going to see a holistic doctor in India and I believe they're going to heal me.
Life with PCOS has been rough in my early 20's. I hate being moody and my mood swings has taken its toll on certain relationships. I hate having acne. Worst of all I hate the excessive weight gain and it's affect my relationship with food. I remember my doctor told me I was obese in 2017 which hurt my feelings a lot & not to mention my family's commentary about my weight over the last seven years. On the bright side though a lot of issues I've had since I was 14 years old, finally has an answer.
On a good note it's been 4 months since I've had red meat (which also helps Crohn's disease flare ups). I'm 10 lbs down, I did a chemical peel consultation & I'm planning to start non-invasive lips procedures next month until I get the body I want. I'll keep you updated on the progress. I'm doing my best to love my body and not be self-critical but it's hard sometimes. This condition is beyond my control but I'm doing my part to make life with PCOS easier.
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms please talk to your doctor and fiure out what's going on with your body. I hope this post may help somebody.
Much love, xoxo
Helpful resources & articles
Candiace: A YouTuber who did a brief series on PCOS, check it out.