Somewhere between 8% to 20% of child bearing age women all over the world have PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome — including me. This is my story.
Before I begin, the most important thing you need to know about PCOS is that it affects each and every woman differently. For me it started when I was a teenager, though I didn’t know it at the time. I began having issues with my period at 14 years old, only one year after I started getting it. At 16 my gynecologist put me on birth control to “regulate” things, but my hormones were so imbalanced I was forced to change prescriptions at least three times before I was 19. That’s when the weight gain began — and didn’t stop.
I had always been a curvy girl growing up, but I was never considered overweight. At my best I was a size eight when I was a senior in high school and it was probably my healthiest size, even to date. After I graduated I started to gain some weight, but immediately attributed it to the “freshman fifteen” they warn you about when you start college. But the weight never stopped no matter what I did — dieting, working out, etc. — and before I knew it I was crossing the 200lbs mark. With an irregular period and an ever growing waist, my doctors thought I might have a thyroid problem. Nope, not it.
After a series of tests, including an extremely violating transvaginal ultrasound, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I had absolutely no idea what this meant, and the only thing I remember about that day is my gynecologist telling me that there was a very slim chance I would ever be able to have children. I was 23 years old. Her exact words, because even a decade later I haven’t forgotten, were that it would be an “uphill battle” primarily because the only time I properly ovulated was while on birth control. When I asked for a direct yes or no answer she told me she couldn’t give me one until I actually started trying. At 32 years old I am still not ready to start “trying” to have a baby so I still don’t know if I will ever be able to have my own children. You can only imagine how heavy that weighs on me.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up. In fact, I’m fighting back against my PCOS every single day. I continue to research PCOS and how it affects different women all the time. I am a part of a number of different Facebook groups in which women discuss their diagnosis, symptoms, struggles, solutions and more. I learned that PCOS is actually manageable if you can lose the weight — but since the PCOS is causing the weight gain (especially around your mid-section where it’s intentionally storing extra fat) it’s EXTREMELY difficult. At 31 years old and nearly 300lbs I decided to have weight loss surgery, which I’ve previously written about. Before making the decision I spoke with many, many women who also had PCOS and either had the gastric sleeve or bypass. Not only were they able to lose the weight, but a lot of them were also able to conceive naturally after years of unsuccessful attempts. All of my doctors agreed that having the gastric sleeve could be very beneficial to my health, and over a year later and close to 100lbs lost I can say they were right. However, I recently found out my PCOS is still an issue.
I remain on birth control because my period is still irregular — which, quite frankly, is fine because I’m sexually active. Even with all of the weight I’ve already lost I’ve hit a stall around my mid-section, where my PCOS is still storing fat without my permission. I also struggle with cravings — especially sweets (chocolate is my achilles heel) and carbs. According to my nutritionist, this is my PCOS flaring inside of me as I desperately try to defeat it. So, how do I keep fighting? I follow my meal plans (though I am still guilty of cheating because I am a human), I continue to workout, and I remain on birth control. For now it’s the best I can do until I’m ready to start trying to conceive, which I already know is going to be a different struggle entirely. However, I refuse to let PCOS hold me back — and I’m going to continue to do everything I can to live my life the way I deserve to no matter what disorder lives inside of me.
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — Do YOU have PCOS? Have you heard of PCOS before now? Comment below, let us know.