This blog post is on the subject of PCOS(polycystic ovarian syndrome).
I myself do not have it. But, my younger sister does. I didn’t realize what a common thing it can be amoung women, and the affects it takes on a body.
So, I want to share my sister’s story for others. Not all illnesses or diseases are curable, only treatable some even untreatable. But, diet and exercise can play a pretty big role in helping symptoms and or illnesses.
Here is my sister’s experience with PCOS.
When I was 20 years old I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). At the time I didn’t know exactly what that meant. My gynecologist told me all of my symptoms added up to this medical condition that I had never heard of until then.
There is no test to definitively say whether you have it or not; the only thing they can do is perform an ultrasound. In the time between my Pap smear and ultrasound appointments I was able to research my condition. To oversimplify PCOS, it means I have cysts on my ovaries and that’s throwing my hormones off balance. I have too much testosterone. Well, that explained a lot of problems I’ve had for years. The symptoms include, but are not limited to, body acne, excessive hair growth, low energy, depression, and irregular menstrual cycles (at the time of my diagnosis I was averaging 2 periods a year). As you can imagine these symptoms wreaked havoc on my self esteem, and had for years. I have 3 beautiful sisters and secretly struggled with being singled out. Out of 4 of us why am I the only one with these problems? It was a relief to finally have an answer.
My ultrasound came back positive and the screen lit up with cysts. My doctor explained everything involved in what having PCOS means. In a nutshell, it’s untreatable and as long as I have my ovaries I’ll have PCOS. My doctor recommended birth control to regulate my period. I declined. I explained I don’t want something that would trick my body into thinking it’s normal. While we were on the subject of birth control he also told me I would only have a 50/50 chance of getting pregnant. As you can imagine that was really difficult to hear. At the time I was in a serious relationship and we had discussed children in the future. I was actually dating the man that is my husband. We had to accept the fact that children may not be an option for us.
Different symptoms would hit me on different days. There have been weekends where I didn’t leave my bedroom. I would be in bed all day and cry. I couldn’t find the willpower to get up and out of bed. Those feelings I had I would never wish on anyone. It’s a black hole that you can’t seem to find your way out of. I would always snap out of it after a couple days but at the time there’s no end in sight.
Along with the symptoms I previously mentioned, another one is weight gain and difficulty losing weight. I have to work twice as hard as the average woman to lose weight.
In recent years the discussion of PCOS has been a lot more open. I was surprised to find that it’s a lot more common than I thought. Women all over were struggling with the same things I was. It was bittersweet to find I wasn’t so alone. I hated that so many of us had this incurable condition and our only option is to play tricks on our bodies with birth control. I want to be clear, I’m not against birth control. But for me, personally, I knew it wouldn’t solve anything. If I was going to do something I wanted it to be a long term solution.
About 4 years ago I was in the worst physical condition I’ve ever been in my life. At 240 pounds I said to myself enough is enough. I started researching diets linked to PCOS. I began seeing a lot of women stating a low carb diet helped alleviate their symptoms. I decided to give it a try.
With the help of my sister I was able to figure out what would work for me. I restricted my daily carb intake to 50 a day. That seems excessive to people familiar with Adkins. I want to clarify I was not on the Adkins diet. This was completely by my design. The first week was a success. Every day I was keeping track of what I’d eaten. Some days I didn’t even come close to my 50 carb limit. I had lost 2 pounds! I was pumped. I kept it up another week. I felt amazing! After the second week I was getting cramps, feeling tired, and had back pain. I thought maybe my body was adjusting but that wasn’t the case. I got my period. It had been 8 months since my last menstrual cycle and I knew it had to be coming soon. I didn’t want to read too much into it so I didn’t credit my period to the change in diet.
A month later I’m no longer keeping a log of what I eat. I have enough of a handle on what I can eat and still stay within my personal goal of 50 carbs a day. I allowed myself a “cheat meal”every couple of weeks. I had lost 10 pounds by this point. I was feeling better than I had in a long time. And then I got period again. Two periods in two months! I couldn’t believe it! That convinced me that my diet played a huge part in my medical condition.
After the second month I realized my energy level was a lot higher. I decided to join a gym. I wanted to keep this positive momentum up. For over a year I kept up with my lifestyle changes. I had lost 30 pounds and intended to keep going. Unfortunately, life has a way of giving you the middle finger on your plans. In July of 2016 I was laid off from the company I had worked for, for 10 years. I’m not sure if you realize this but a low carb diet is pretty expensive. Proteins are much more costly than carbs. Compare the price of a bag of potatoes versus broccoli or cauliflower. My financial state forced me to not only give up the gym but also my diet. I didn’t notice the difference right away. For 6 months I still had a monthly period and didn’t gain weight right away. But a year later I was almost back to my original weight. Thankfully, 6 months ago I found a job I love and I now have the financial freedom to start over. I’m currently 10 pounds down and going to the gym on a regular basis.
I won’t lie, it’s a little tougher the second time around. I have to keep looking at pictures of what I looked like when I was losing weight. I have to remember how I felt physically. I’m familiar with this uphill battle. The climb is a little easier knowing I have an amazing support system to encourage me but the rest is up to me.
I am so proud of my sister for taking control of her life while facing this illness. She is a strong, smart, kind and beautiful woman.