I began to suffer from many of the physical symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome when I was 14. The age when I had my first period. The first one was normal and during that time I thought the worst thing about it was that I’d started when I was away on holiday. I thought that after it had finished I would be done for another few weeks as any normal girl would but no… I began to have periods very heavily every two weeks. It lead to fainting, blood blisters and sleepless nights from hot flushes, painful acne, facial and chest hair growth, vomitting when I ate on a morning and extremely violent mood swings.
I begged my mother to take me to the doctors to get me checked out and she kept telling me that what was going on with my body was normal and I’d grow out of it. What she failed to tell me was that she had PCOS too and that it was genetic. I wasn’t getting any better.
After a screaming fit and anxiety attack over one tiny thing… She realised it was ridiculous to allow me to go on like this and did take me to the doctor to be checked out. The GP also told me I was going to grow out of it but wanted to put me on the combined pill to regulate my periods so I wasn’t so all over the place. Everything went normal after that. I was regular. My BMI dropped from 30 to 25 and I was much more emotionally stable. Although, kids in school did still bully me for my weight and facial hair. Nothing can stop that. Kids can be really mean.
3 years later, I was still in the dillusion that I was going to grow out of it and had convinced myself that if I came off the pill, I would still be okay… WRONG.
I gained 5.5 stone in the short space of three months and my periods only arrived once ever three months… If at all. I started to have migraines and vomitting, the mood swings came back, the hair got thicker, the acne got worse and I had severe stomach pain and constipation problems. I also became very prone to UTIs.
I kept seeing my GP begging for help. They gave me antidepressants and anxiety medications for my moods. They tried me on medications for IBS… All of which failed. They checked if I was pregnant everytime I went in and with each negative I got more and more lost, I had no idea what was wrong with me.
It took me two years to have the Ultrasound scan that changed my life. It was around this time when I had started getting really fatigued and needed to nap daily to function. They scanned me and found no evidence of the “gallstones” they thought I had and instead found the cysts on my ovaries. The doctor said I had around 12 on each ovary but they shouldn’t be hurting me because “ovarian cysts don’t hurt.” Still to this day the biggest load of crap anyone’s ever said to me.
They transferred me to a gynaecologist who diagnosed me with PCOS and informed me that it was hereditary. She told me I would need to get back to a healthy weight I ever wanted children and believe me I tried so hard. I started the gym and tried dieting but didn’t shift more than 2lbs. The weight just wasn’t budging. I started to feel guilty and like I was never meant to be a mother.
The gynaecologist put me on the minipill to try and regulate my hormones but I ended off being on my period every two weeks again so she had to switch me to the combined despite my weight. She did tell me to keep trying to loose weight.
I did keep trying but everyday it was getting harder. I falling asleep for longer every day to the point of being out for 6 hours one afternoon. I had a fit on a night out from high blood sugar but when checked for diabetes I was told I was fine.
2 years after my PCOS diagnosis, I was referred to a PCOS specialist dietician who came to the conclusion that I was hyperglycemic (a form of insulin resistance caused by PCOS that keeps blood sugar levels consistently high causing damage to the kidneys, legs, brain and eyes). It explained my weight gain, my sudden need for specs, my seizure, my headaches and why my legs kept going numb.
She suggested a low GI diet so as of the 4th September 2017, I changed my lifestyle. I was half expecting it not to work because nothing had ever worked before and yet it did. In the last six months I have lost 2.5 stone and those naps that I needed daily because of sugar crashing have gone too! My acne has cleared. My excess hair growth has slowed down and I even have less anxiety attacks and mood swings.
Losing weight with an illness that makes you gain weight is hard but not impossible. I just wish someone like my mother had admitted to me what I had sooner so I would have known that I was ill. PCOS isn’t something that girls will “just grow out of” so stop telling them that it is. Help them. Support them. Let them know that they aren’t alone in their fight.
1 in 10 women have PCOS. Most of them feel ashamed of it. Don’t be. Your body just needs a little extra care.
I know that as soon as my future daughter gets her first period, if she shows symptoms I recognise I will have a talk with her and I will help her. Mother’s should let their children be alone in this. It’s hard but we can all get there.
I love and support all my cysters! Our high male hormones doesn’t make us less of a woman, it just makes us a stronger one!