My diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome makes a ton of sense. After all these years I can finally put a name to what is wrong with me.
Ever since I began my monthlies I have been irregular. I never settled down to the 4 week cycle and it bugged me to no end. With cycles anywhere between 3 weeks to 11 weeks, I always knew something wasn't right. I saw a gynecologist when I was 17 who performed a laparoscopy but had no findings.
The Encyclopedia defines PCOS as:
Endocrine (hormonal) disorder in women, characterized by high levels of male hormones (androgens) and infrequent or absent ovulation. It causes a high proportion of female infertility cases. Symptoms vary but often include increased serum concentrations of androgens,insulin resistance, hirsutism, acne, and obesity. Menstruation may be irregular, absent, or excessive. The ovaries are usually enlarged and contain cysts.
It wasn't until I went back and read the symptoms of PCOS when the light bulb went off in my head and the last 13 years of my life made more sense!
The symptoms of PCOS can vary from woman to woman. Some of the symptoms of PCOS include:
- Infertility (not able to get pregnant) because of not ovulating. In fact, PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. Check!
- Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods Check!
- Hirsutism (HER-suh-tiz-um) — increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes Thankfully no!
- Cysts on the ovaries Check!
- Acne, oily skin, or dandruff Sigh. Check.
- Weight gain or obesity, usually with extra weight around the waist *looks at latest photos of self* Check.
- Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair I don't think so?
- Patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black check.
- Skin tags — excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area a couple - check.
- Pelvic pain check.
- Anxiety or depression check - at times. I had bad Post-natal Depression with James but not sure that comes under this diagnosis.
- Sleep apnea — when breathing stops for short periods of time while asleep Hmmm will have to ask Nick if he's noticed anything...
I also found out that many women with PCOS go on to have a higher risk of miscarriage and pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) - both of which I have had. James had to be born a couple of weeks early due to my blood pressure levels being at dangerous levels and platelet count dropping (I'd bleed out).
Everything just makes sense now. All these things I thought weren't connected actually came from the same problem! Finally I can move on and start to work towards treating (there is no cure) what I have and working towards another baby. No wonder we weren't getting pregnant if I wasn't ovulating!
If you or someone you know has many of these symptoms, I would encourage you to catch up with your Doctor. PCOS is not just a problem if you are trying to get pregnant but can also lead to some serious problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart attack, endometrial and ovarian cancer. Treatment is available and a healthy lifestyle can help.
If you suffer from PCOS I would love to hear from you!