How I’m Successfully Living With PCOS
“I found out recently that I am living with PCOS.” I hear laughter coming from the back of the car from a friend.
“Wait! Isn’t that where you grow a beard?”He states while still letting a few short bits of laughter out.
“Oh, please! She is not growing a beard,” my other friend states in response as if that is the most ludicrous thing ever to say. I’m a girl, after all, there is no way I am going to grow a beard.
I giggle halfheartedly back and try to change the subject. My insides are twisting into knots as I feel my cheeks starting to turn a deep shade of red. The reality is that I have been shaving my ‘beard’ for several years now. In fact, it has gotten to the point where I have to shave every single day in hopes that no one notices my secret.
This is a statement that I never thought I would be sharing with any other living soul (let alone the entirety of the internet). I was so ashamed of my excess hair that I even woke up before my fiance each day so that he wouldn’t see the stubble that was growing in (though he was 100% okay with it once I finally came clean).
The excess facial hair isn’t the only problem I have had to face either.
I used to skip periods for months at a time (one time I skipped for an entire year). I also have a horrid time losing weight, can gain it within a week, have the hair on my head thinning while the rest of my body grows at an astronomical speed, go through horrid digestion issues, and potentially have infertility problems.
What shocked me was finding out just how common living with PCOS was. Yet, most everybody I know has no clue what it is. In fact, a lot of women have it without realizing it. It also comes with symptoms that change from person to person. Some women start going bald while others have such massive and painful periods that they can barely leave their beds.
So, What Is PCOS?
For anyone currently scratching their heads in confusion, PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. According to Mayo Clinic, it is a “hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges.” I’ve also heard that they have recently considered it an autoimmune disorder (like diabetes) because of how it is directly related to the insulin levels in the body.
From my hours upon hours of research, I have come up with a simple explanation. It is a hormonal disorder that is usually hereditary, causes cysts on the ovaries as well as a vast amount of different symptoms, and often comes from excess insulin (which is because our bodies read nutrients differently). There is no current cure for it.
Some of the more prevalent symptoms and complications from PCOS include:
- Gestational Diabetes
- Miscarriage or Premature Birth
- Endometrial Cancer
- Sleep Apnea
- Excessive weight gain or weight loss
- Irregular Periods
- Cysts on ovaries
- Excess Androgen (a male hormone that causes baldness, facial hair, etc.)
Doesn’t sound fun, does it? In fact, there is nothing that makes it a laughing matter. Most young women who go through this don’t understand what is happening and suffer horrible depression. The fact is, it usually goes undiagnosed and can be challenging to treat (especially since everyone is different).
Most doctors who are not specialized in this matter just throw birth control at the problem as a quick fix. This helps some women while hurting others. Others might even comment on your weight, saying you have nothing wrong except the fact that you need to shed pounds off.
Unfortunately, losing weight while living with PCOS can be close to impossible if not correctly treated.
However, I’m not here to go on a rant about all of the facts you can read on the internet. I’m here to help anyone going through this to know that you are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed of. Most of my life was spent hating my body and not understanding why I didn’t look like the other girls. I remember the first time one of my good friends pointed out the hairs growing in my mustache area.
I came home, crying and wanting to die. My mom went out, bought wax strips, and we took care of the problem. However, that was just one of the things I hated about my body. It seemed like no matter what I did, I could not lose weight. I also had such thick hair on my legs and arms that, even after shaving, you could see the tiny spots where the hair grew.
Several times I bled through my pants at school. I would go months without a period. Once it did come, I would have to wear a tampon, a pad, and still put a towel underneath me while I slept. Trust me, I went through every hatred filled emotion you could think of. There was not a day that would go by where I didn’t feel ugly.
So, How Are You Living WIth PCOS?
I still have bad days, but I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. I’m living proof that it does get better (I promise). Once I realized that was living with PCOS, I went online and read everything that I could. I started following a Reddit group and a few Facebook groups (which I suggest for anyone going through this). I found holistic ways to help treat some of my ailments and, the things I couldn’t control, I found ways to fix.
My diet changed drastically. I took out gluten, soy, and dairy products. This eliminated my constipation and constant fatigue I was feeling. I then started taking supplements and multivitamins for things that I was deficient in (like iron, magnesium, etc.). I quit smoking and practiced mindfulness as well as self-care rituals.
With stress being a massive influence in my periods, I made my mental health top priority.
After eight months of no period, I finally saw blood (I actually cried tears of joy when this happened). Now I can successfully say I’ve had a period every month for the last year (something I have never been able to say).
I’ve also recently started a Low-GI lifestyle, incorporated regular low-intensity workouts into my daily schedule, and started drinking spearmint daily (a tip that has been proven to help decrease testosterone in the body). I’ve also incorporated probiotics, Inositol, Folate, and Maca powder into my morning breakfast.
For my hair, I shave or wax regularly. I could laser everything away but, for now, I’m accepting my body how it is until I can afford a regular laser hair removal regimen. I talk more about unwanted hair in my newest blog article. I’m in no way perfect, but I don’t wake up every day hating myself anymore.
It took many changes and some in-depth self-exploration for me to come to terms with my body. It might not work like the average person, but it is still just as extraordinary – and so is yours. Again, I didn’t go on this rant to educate. I’m in no way a professional dietician or doctor. You should go seek medical aide and do your own research when it comes to PCOS. I’m merely here to let you know that you are not alone.
Us bearded cysters have got to stick together!
If you suffer from PCOS and enjoy this at all, let me know if you would like to see more articles similar to this one. I’ve thought about doing an entire series where I focus on specific ailments and what I do in detail to change them (like weight, periods, etc.). If you are interested in that at all, let me know in the comments below or over on my contact page!
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**While I do research and find reliable information to share for each article, I am by no means a professional. Make sure to speak with a healthcare professional before changing anything in your health. Also, I do have affiliate links that, if used, will give me a small commission. While I do make a profit, I will never share a product/service that I do not 100% stand behind.