Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). I have suspected that I have it ever since I learned about it on a television show. This was back in 2007 or so. A woman was discussing her symptoms and how doctor's couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. Many of the symptoms she described I had. I didn't have insurance at the time and the syndrome wasn't life threatening - just life frustrating- so I ignored it and went on with life as if I was just fine.
So, what is PCOS?
Basically it is when a woman's hormone levels are out of balance. It is unknown what the root cause is, but one hormone becomes unbalanced and then that causes another imbalance and then you get a cascade of imbalances. This can lead to a whole host of health issues and embarrassing physical appearance issues.
So, what are the symptoms?
- Infertility (eighteen of the nineteen years I've been sexually active I have not used birth control and have not gotten pregnant)
- Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods.(My periods are not perfect, but I have never considered them to be abnormal).
- Hirsutism — increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes. (Yep, but not on my chest, stomach, or back).
- Cysts on the ovaries. (I've never been checked for this).
- Acne, oily skin, or dandruff. (Yup)
- Weight gain or obesity. (Ohhh, yes, I gain weight easily but can't lose it).
- Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair. (I do not have this symptom).
- Patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black. (I used to have this mildly, but it went away).
- Skin tags — excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area. (I have a few small ones here and there).
- Pelvic pain. (Me, Only with normal period cramps).
- Anxiety or depression. (I've always considered my mild depression to be related to my diabetes).
- Sleep apnea. (I've never been tested for this).
- Insulin resistance. (I am insulin resistant)
Any woman can get PCOS. For me, I believe I developed it at puberty but it was never a problem until it started to get more severe. I am a type 1 diabetic and I never controlled my diabetes. The chronic high blood sugars, I believe, contributed to my development of PCOS. When I developed more health issues like heart disease, neuropathy, retinopathy, etc… and became very concerned with getting my diabetes and health under control…well, this is when the PCOS started to show just how bad it was.
I needed to lose weight. I was trying to lose weight. I WASN’T losing weight! I was eating very healthy, I was getting as much exercise as I could, considering my painful health issues. I was getting my blood sugars under control. So, I should have been shrinking, but I wasn’t.
It was about this time that I remembered PCOS. I researched it and discovered just how many of the symptoms I have. I also discovered that PCOS is common among female (duh) diabetics. Especially those with a history of chronic high blood sugar.
When I finally got to start seeing a diabetes specialist again, I told her all about my history and mentioned that I think I might have PCOS. She agreed with me and ordered some lab tests.
I did the labs and a few weeks later I returned to the diabetes specialist. She confirmed that it looked positive for PCOS but I needed to do two more tests to rule out other possibilities.
I did those tests and called the doctor’s office a couple of weeks later to get the results.
She confirmed I do have PCOS and ordered two prescriptions to help me control it.
- Metformin to help with the insulin resistance, lowers testosterone, and slows the growth of abnormal hair, This will also help me to lose weight.
- Birth control pill. This is because birth control will help to lower male hormone levels. Also, Metformin has a tendency to cause extreme fertility and I have no desire to pop out any minions.
-Vitamin D supplement. This is because the lab also showed that I am vitamin D deficient.
Also, continuing to control my diabetes, eating healthy, and exercising will help to control the PCOS.
So, getting diagnosed with PCOS was both a good and bad thing. Having yet another health issue to contend with is not appealing in the slightest. But knowing what is wrong with me and being able to finally get treatment is a wonderful thing.