Anxiety · Change · Clomid · Counselling · Experience · fertility · infertility · Lifestyle · PCOS

Blog Blog Blog

Someone brought my blog to my attention the other day… I really wanted to make a go of it, but just after I renewed my subscription a friend told me they didn’t think a blog would suit me. I stupidly took it to heart and stopped. Flash forward 6 months and finding myself faced with lots of ups and downs in life I’ve decided to dust off my keyboard and give it another bash. Who knows what will come of it… but even if no one reads it, I always find that writing things down proves to be a useful outlet for me.

Bringing you up to speed on what’s going on in my life right now… I am currently in the middle of my first round of fertility treatment. It sounds scary, but it’s only tablets. Clomifene (Clomid) to be specific. I want to do a post all about it, but for the moment I thought best not to start with such intensity.

I’ve always tried to keep my desire to have children on the back burner, it makes those negative tests slightly easier to deal with, but now we’re receiving help from the Fertility Clinic I feel I am able to let my hopes run wild… well, ish. It is extremely difficult to struggle with infertility. I sometimes feel I am such a ‘newb’ when it comes down to it as there are so many women out there going through way more than I am, but at the end of the day we all have our individual journeys. I can be such a pain in the bum when it comes to comparing myself to others, I always make myself feel inferior and that in itself doesn’t do anything for my self esteem. I started to notice a while back that I was becoming quite mentally ugly when it came to pregnancy… hear me out: can anyone relate to scrolling through facebook, seeing a pregnancy announcement and rolling your eyes? Or how about unfollowing people you like on social media because they’ve become pregnant and you can’t handle it? And here’s maybe the biggest one of all… not being able to be around your friends because seeing them happy with their babies makes it feel like someone has stabbed you in the heart with a rusty spike?

That is not the type of person I would ever aspire to be… but I already was. It crept upon me without notice and one day I took a long look in the mirror and decided enough was enough. I signed myself up for some counselling sessions and over several months I worked through my issues. Now, if you’re considering doing this and haven’t yet found the courage to, please let me give you that nudge to go for it… don’t expect immediate results, it takes time to form a bond with someone, but just giving 100% focus on myself for an hour every few weeks really did me the world of good. I have learnt to associate positivity with pregnancy. I choose to see each pregnancy announcement as another iron-clad piece of proof that I can remain to hope that this will happen for me. After several months of counselling I was ‘set free’ and if I choose to, which I have on a few occasions already, I just arrange a ‘top up’ session. Easy peasy! In fact, I have a session in the morning!

That’s probably enough rambling on for now, but if you’re keen to follow how my Clomid cycle is going, please head on over to my Instagram page.

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Change · Experience · Lifestyle · PCOS · Self Acceptance

Don’t Let PCOS Define You

Hands up, who finds it easier to understand what they're going through when you've been diagnosed with something? That sweet relief of being able to put a name to your particular struggles and instantly start searching the internet to find solace in the similar experience of others. We've all been there, but what if that diagnosis turns into definition?

In June 2015 when the doctor first told me I had Polycystic Ovary Syndrome I felt like my world was collapsing around me. I had no idea what it meant for me and my future. I was haunted by the word 'syndrome' and it left me feeling very lost and confused. Luckily I found a great community on Instagram and immediately became addicted to scouring PCOS hashtags and feeding on other women's experiences. Suddenly I wasn't alone! I found myself amongst a sea of women across the world and I felt at ease.

As my wealth of knowledge expanded, so did my obsession. I became convinced that I was yet to experience a multitude of symptoms that I was discovering and so I got stuck into learning about what foods to avoid, what foods would help my body, which exercises were best, when to do them, how to do them, etc, etc. Then came the guilt. If I missed a workout or ate the 'wrong' type of food I would blame every painful negative pregnancy test on my bad judgement. This guilt weighed heavily on my shoulders and it started to distort my view of my marriage and my self worth as a woman. It honestly felt to me, and don't get me wrong I still do feel this way sometimes, that I will never be able to have children.

That's a big statement to make.

Back in October I started having some counselling sessions. I am very proud of myself for being able to see that I needed an outlet such as this in my life and I really can't speak highly enough of the experience. It's opened my eyes up to myself and my surroundings. Currently on my Instagram feed I have lost count of how many women with PCOS or other fertility related issues have fallen pregnant. Yes sometimes it's hard to see pregnancy announcements, but these are all women who at some point would have felt exactly how I feel and to see that they have beaten the odds gives me great hope that someday I will too!

The New Year also brings hoards of newly diagnosed women to seek solace in social media and I welcome them with open arms. I remember feeling how they felt and I can see a similarity in their posts to mine back when I was first diagnosed. We are each on our own journey and need to go through this experience to gain a better understanding of the cards we've been dealt. That's perfectly ok, but don't let this become you. There is no right or wrong, we are all individuals and likely to experience something very different to the woman next in line. PCOS can be a struggle, but PCOS is not me… I am me.

xx Gem xx

Change · Experience · Lifestyle · Love · PCOS · Self Acceptance

New Year, New You

It’s that time of year that gives one licence to start afresh. Even though the clocks have only ticked forward a mere second, the notion of this time passing brings much inspiration to many people to change their mentality towards themselves. Three weeks on I am still thoroughly enjoying riding the wave of everyone’s newfound enthusiasm for healthy eating and exercise regimes. However, for the first time I haven’t felt the need to set resolutions for myself because I feel I am already where I want to be. No, I am not at my goal weight and no we are still not pregnant, but I am content with the way I look at myself and that really was what I was striving for all along… I just didn’t know it at the time!

Self acceptance is not easy to come by. You have to go on an incredible journey to find it and just when you think you have, it disappears right from your finger tips. Most of the time I look at myself and I see a happy woman, someone who is so appreciative for what she has in life and dreams of what the future holds for her. Then, for what has dominated most of my life but is currently hiding away in the box I keep buried at the back of my mind, is the bitch that society over the past three decades has moulded me into. I’ve spent the last year taming this part of me and learning how to be kind to myself. The thing is, I think there will always be something inside that has the desire to rip myself apart, so there is no New Year resolution but to simply continue along my journey.

Whatever you decide to do this year, don’t forget to look upon yourself with kind eyes. We are only human and we are incredible beings. I am a firm believer in lifting each other up instead of tearing each other down, but sometimes I forget to apply this belief when I look upon myself.

xx Gem xx

Anxiety · Change · Diet · Experience · Lifestyle · Motivation · PCOS

PCOS Symptom Struggles

This past week has been a difficult one. A lot of the symptoms I used to suffer with as a result of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome have returned, but others I have been struggling with for a while seem to have improved.

I’m going through a bit of a rough patch in my life right now, something I’ll talk about in another post when I’m ready, but I think stress is accountable for a lot of these recent changes. Although I’m suffering from a great deal of anxiety, it’s not consuming me to the core. I find my mind constantly wading through the field of emotions that I have been dumped with, but it’s not to the point of self destruction. 
Now, I said some symptoms seem to have improved of late & the first one I am really pleased with. It’s not a major improvement, but I’ve noticed the spots on my face, especially around my chin (which I’ve read is signs of a hormonal imbalance), have calmed down… a lot. Usually around the time of (what I hope is) ovulation & then my period it flares up & can be very painful, not to mention awful to look at. This month has been brilliant, not as painful & easy to cover up with my normal foundation. The second symptom I struggle with is loose stools… ooh what a lovely subject! I’m not going to go into much detail here, no one needs to hear that, but let’s just say it’s improved tremendously! 
So, on to new symptoms. I have been experiencing very strong pains “down there”… I’m talking sitting on a knife type of pain. It’s horrendous & has woken me up in the night several times. You’d think that all of this was for something, but I’ve had a really light period which went away for a couple of days but then returned unexpectedly & pretty heavy… but just for an hour or so, then nothing. Just before you ask, yes I am trying for a baby & I did test, but it came back negative… & that’s ok as right now I’m not sure I could cope with a pregnancy if I’m going to be honest. Other things I’m experiencing is heartburn, fatigue & night sweats. I’m talking proper-pyjama-drenching-sweats! Nice! 
For me, I feel stress is the major player here. I’ve made no dramatic changes to my diet or fitness regime so that’s why I’ve come to this conclusion. Let’s hope next month is a better one & with a lot less stress! 
Stay happy, healthy & focused… 
xx Gem xx 

Anxiety · Change · Experience · Lifestyle · PCOS

Absence and Anxiety

Hey everyone,

I didn’t mean to have such a break from this blog, it just became low priority… and I suppose the reason was due to anxiety. I started to get worked up about writing posts and what people thought of them that I stopped, but I’m back and I want to really push myself to make this work. I love my Instagram account and use it daily to document diet and exercise but I don’t tend to talk too much about my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) symptoms. Sometimes this is simply because I’m not struggling and other times this is because I can’t bring myself to talk about it. I’m terrible at bottling things up and putting on a smile when I’m suffering on the inside. The truth is some days I feel completely shackled by my anxiety and I can’t bring myself to tell anyone how I feel. I assume how people will respond, I create their feelings in my mind and become determined that they will react this way if I tell them… when in fact they would probably react the complete opposite way! Today I feel comfortable enough to share my feelings, so I thought I would take the opportunity to do so.

Have you ever had one of those days where you wake up and don’t want to get out of bed? Or how about you can’t get out of bed? I used to feel like that a lot. The best thing I could have done for myself was just to close my eyes and sleep it off, however life doesn’t always allow you to do that. Mostly if I tried to get up it would end up with tears and sometimes I would feel a kind of terror that made me sick to my stomach. However a couple of hours later you wouldn’t believe that I was the same person. It’s like a switch that flips and I suddenly wake up, feeling ashamed of myself and looking at this mess of a person in the mirror. Sometimes I honestly can’t remember the words I say or the way I’ve behaved, it’s terrifying.

I find it a real funny thing, anxiety. It can strike at the strangest moments and other times when I assume I’d struggle I end up pulling through with immense strength. I think as I’ve got older I’ve learnt to shrug things off, I’ve always been terrible with negativity, but now some things just don’t seem like such an issue. I have come to appreciate that we’re all going through our own journey and have different views and opinions… what does it matter if my opinion doesn’t sit well with others? I shouldn’t have to hide my views or worry about what they think of me. Of course it’s all fair and well me saying this now, but if I were to write this tomorrow I may not be able to say the same. It makes me feel unpredictable, which I hate, but luckily my husband accepts this and is incredibly supportive… it can’t be easy for him.

If I look back to this time last year I would find myself having, what I call, ‘dark days’ at least once a week. Not always as extreme as I’ve explained above, but definitely a firm staple in my mental health. Since being diagnosed with PCOS I had to change my diet and exercise to manage my symptoms and I no longer struggle with as many of these dark days, sometimes I can go a month without one. I’m a lot happier in myself and I feel this is down to the lifestyle that I now lead. I’m not saying ‘change your diet and your anxiety will disappear’ but for me it seems to have helped, tremendously. I also have learnt to pre-empt when I may go through a dark patch and have been building my confidence up to ask Hubs for help. Sometimes this means not going to an event we have tickets for or cancelling meal plans, but to me it’s a small price to pay if it keeps my anxiety at bay. Whether or not I’m the only one who feels this way, I’m not sure, but we are all individuals and this is just a little insight into how I struggle and cope.

Going back to my blog, I still want to provide helpful information about PCOS and I have a couple of posts I’m in the middle of writing, but I think I’ll incorporate a few rambles now and then as I tend to slip into a very formal mode and I want to try and be as informal as possible… which is a big deal for me. If you look at my previous posts and my Instagram account, you will see lots of formal style posts and that is simply me, but I do have another side, a more relaxed side and this is the one that I hope any ladies with PCOS, or not, will be able to relate to.

Stay happy, healthy and focused…

xx Gem xx

 

Change · Diet · Lifestyle · Motivation · PCOS

Choosing A Diet That’s Right For You

First off I want to explain what I mean by the word ‘diet’. I used to hear the word ‘diet’ and wince. For me it meant cutting out foods I enjoyed, writing down everything I ate and worst of all, being hungry! That, to me, is a ‘fad diet’. Something that is short term, sometimes effective, but can be strayed from… and let’s face it, down right boring! Nowadays the word ‘diet’ to me comprises of all the food I eat and I try my best to maintain a well balanced one.

So, when I talk about choosing a diet that’s right for you I am talking in terms of the correct foods to eat according to your health needs… not just cutting back to lose weight. For example, I am deficient in Iron so I had to adjust my diet to include lots of leafy greens and other sources of Iron (Guinness included!). I would suggest going to your doctor and requesting a blood test to see if you are deficient in any areas. This would be a good start to help mould your diet to provide the maximum benefit. Also, have a good think about any foods that you eat and if they have a negative effect on your body. For example, sometimes (and I say sometimes because it’s not every time) when I eat a large portion of cheese I find the following day I can quite often become rather acquainted with my toilet. Just beautiful isn’t it?! I have become quite wary of dairy in general and try my best to avoid consuming large full fat amounts of it (cream is just the worst!). There are alternatives, so find one that you like and trial it for a couple of weeks. Before I got married my doctor diagnosed me with stress induced Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and anything I came to eat would have me crippled in pain, especially at night, so I had to make a lot of changes to suit that phase, but now that has passed and I can eat a lot of those foods again without any problems.

Next, have a look at foods you currently eat where you can make healthier choices. For example, if you love pasta then make the switch from white to wholegrain. White pasta is processed and a lot of the nutrients get lost because of this. What’s the point in eating food if you’re not going to get the full benefit from it? Make the switch, and I’ll tell you, wholegrain pasta is MUCH tastier than white. That goes for rice too. Brown rice has a much nuttier flavour, and again, doesn’t suffer the consequences of processing like white rice. Basically, any grains you eat look out for the wholegrain version and already you have made one easy step to making your diet better for your health.

Be very wary of low fat options as they’re not always the healthier choice to make. A lot of them I find contain more salt to provide a better flavour and a lot more unnatural substances too. Always read your labels and compare to get the best choice. This also goes for drinks… coke being a big contender in the diet option category. Although diet coke contains less calories, the artificial sweetener that is added has many downsides and in some people it can trigger insulin and send your body into fat storage mode (which is already a BIG problem for us girls with PCOS, so don’t make it worse for yourself). Personally I don’t tend to drink fizzy drinks (apart from the odd local cider! Yes, I’m a West Country girl!) as it makes me bloated and I feel dehydrated quickly. The best form of liquid you can drink is water… water water and more water! What I have done also is widen my variety of hot drinks that I drink. I used to be a coffee and tea kind of girl, but to keep balance in my diet I introduced different types of tea and try my best to only drink one cup of each kind of hot drink a day.

Now, fruits and veggies. It’s really not that hard to make sure you eat your 5 a day… there are so many options, many of which are very versatile, so you shouldn’t get bored easily. HOT TIP: When making anything with onions, thinly slice some celery and add them in. They really pack out a good meal and have great nutritional benefits. I’m currently looking into getting on the smoothie bandwagon. In order to keep my Iron levels up (with an Iron packed smoothie) and to ensure I eat little but often (due to Insulin Resistance) I think that smoothies would be a great thing to introduce into my diet.

I wouldn’t recommend going ‘cold turkey’ with anything, unless your health needs require it, as in my experience this will only cause you to crave it. Look at this as a lifestyle change and your aim is to have a balanced diet. I believe it’s good for the mind to treat yourself every now and then, but if I deny myself something completely then I’m more likely to get to the point where I crack and binge on it. Using pizza as example… not the healthiest form of food, but instead of ordering in a big expensive pizza I now use my bread maker to whip up a wholewheat dough, then I can control what I put on top of it (especially the amount of cheese) and enjoy a freshly cooked slice of heaven rather than a semi-warm scrap of crap that has arrived on the back of a moped!

Ah ha! I know what you’re going to say… “but I don’t have time to make a pizza”. Now, I’m not very good at being critical, but YES you do. MAKE time for it. I plan… I plan my meals and I plan my day. It’s really not that hard to do. If I need to make a soup for dinner but I’m on a long shift for work, I’ll wake up 10 mins early to prepare the veggies in the morning. That way, when I get home I can just turn the hob on, blitz and serve. If I want to make a pizza then I’ll pop all the ingredients in the bread maker and set the timer so it’s done when I get home from work. A good investment is a slow cooker if you haven’t got one already… I love mine and Hubs makes some delicious healthy meals for us.

So, recapping then, the main points for choosing a diet that’s right for you (in my opinion) is to:

  • Check if there are any areas you are deficient in and need a boost
  • Test to see if there are any foods that react negatively to your body and remove
  • Make healthier choices with the foods you currently eat, but be wary of low fat options
  • Don’t go cold turkey, introduce changes slowly and treat yourself in moderation
  • Plan ahead

Try to remain focused on your diet and don’t worry if you have a bad day… just pick yourself up and get back on it. DON’T wait until Monday, or the beginning of a new month, otherwise you’re falling into the trap of a fad diet and this is not what we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can do this! You are in control of what goes into your body… take time to build a healthy relationship with food and you’ll soon reap the benefits! It isn’t easy making a change, it took me a little while to adjust, but now I do it without thinking and it’s become natural part of my life to eat healthily.

Best of luck with the changes you’re making, and if you need to, call on friends and family for support.

Stay healthy, happy and focused…

xx Gem xx

Change · Experience · Lifestyle · Motivation · PCOS

Making A Change

Walking out of the doctor’s office, my head was buzzing. It was a lot of new information to have about myself in such a short space of time and I needed time to process it all. The big question that was swirling around in my mind was “what does having Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) mean for me?”

I went home, put the kettle on and started to read through the information I was given. I learnt a lot in a short space of time and felt completely deflated by the end of my cup of tea. The overwhelming feeling of possibly having trouble conceiving was weighing me down like a lead balloon and I couldn’t shake it from my thoughts. I have a wonderful relationship with my husband and we talk everything through, so the poor thing had to come home to many nights of his wife being a complete mess about something he couldn’t fix. This is when we really started to talk about children. Now, there is WAY more on this subject… as a woman nearing 30 years of age and recently married, you can imagine the nesting I am doing right now, but this is not the point of this post. I am here today to talk about deciding to make a change and to (hopefully) give you some hints and tips based on my experience.

So, this brings me to my first point. You have to WANT to make a change. Of course, many of us can relate to wanting weight loss (for example) when its beach season or that cute dress you used to wear five years ago has no hope of zipping up, but wanting that can easily be swayed by that chocolate éclair in the coffee shop… oh and not to mention that caramel latte! YUM! You need to have a ‘want’ that is strong enough to keep you going, to give you that motivation and to kick some serious butt at making a change. My ‘want’ is children. Yes, of course I want to be pain free and live a life where I don’t have to worry about the symptoms of PCOS, but in all honesty my biggest reason for change is children… and I would do ANYTHING to have them.

Once I decided on my reason for making a decision to change, the motivation came bursting into my life like an excited puppy. This was great and I am extremely grateful to myself for allowing this to happen, but the biggest challenge was making this motivation stick. Day 5 into my new exercise regime I was starving and exhausted, but every time I even thought about giving up I looked at myself in the mirror, pointed my finger, got that frown out and said “You want kids? Then you have to work for it!” This might sound a bit cheesy, or stupid, but it worked. It worked for me. I’m not saying it’ll work for you, but you need to find something that does.

My biggest challenge was when I hit around the 6 week mark. Shortly after Hubs and I got engaged in 2012, I joined a gym and found myself wrapped up in a lifestyle of early morning workouts and healthy meals. The reason was there (“Shredding for the Wedding”), the motivation was strong (“Doing it for the Dress”), but a couple of months into it the scales weren’t budging. Oh if only I knew back then the implications of Insulin Resistance! (More on that in another post) That deflating feeling hit me harder each week and eventually it seemed easier to cry about it than work at it. Fortunately for me, my stress levels hit the roof in the run up to the Wedding and I miraculously lost the weight I needed for my dress… but OBVIOUSLY I’m not going to recommend this as a weight loss regime! So, returning to the biggest challenge for me; extending that motivation to blissfully prance alongside me for life.

It was at this point that I signed up to an online Nutritional Therapist course. I am much better at sticking to something if I’m actively involved, so this was a great option for me. As I started to eat foods that were better for me, I found myself with more energy and amazingly my clothes started to feel a little loose. The scales may not have moved, but the inches were! For the first time in my life I found myself toning up. Also, the pain I was experiencing with PCOS wasn’t as frequent and my period was getting healthier by each passing month! I was flourishing and it was all down to my own efforts I had put in. Hubs told me how proud he was of me, that I was actively doing something to help our future, so I took a moment to record my results for future reference when I’m finding it tough… because it will happen, it’s not all plain sailing.

There have been a couple of times I’ve “fallen off the bandwagon”, but this is a phrase I no longer like to use. In the past I have let myself fall and I have merely crawled back to the sofa and switched on the telly, but now I have found the strength to pick myself back up and continue on my way. This strength hasn’t come easily and it’s quite often the inspiration of others that has driven me to be as focused as I am today. As you know, I love my Instagram account and I have found much inspiration from one lovely lady in particular named Emma ( @sw_elouise0590x ). Emma is on a Slimming World journey to lose weight and over the past few weeks she has come to realise that this is not just a fad diet, it’s a lifestyle change for her. I’d just like to quote from one of her posts…

“After thinking, my ultimate goal isn’t to be a specific size or weight, it’s to be changed for life. So in my mind the longer it takes to get to goal, the longer time you are practising your new lifestyle and therefore it’s giving me more tools to be able to stick to this lifestyle when I’m at goal.”

Emma has discovered that she wants a long, happy and healthy future and the only way to do this is to adopt a new lifestyle… and I’ll tell you, it’s sure working out well for her! She is totally motivated, super happy and seeing great results each week because of this change… and not to mention motivating others on her way! So, if you have a bad day or something that sets you back, don’t let your bruised ego persuade you to give up. Remember this is a lifestyle change you CAN stick to; wipe the slate clean and start fresh right away… and with this frame of mind you may find it easier to hold on to your decision to make a change. I’m currently 5 months into my journey I am more focused than ever!

Thanks for listening folks, until next time…

Stay healthy, happy and focused!

xx Gem xx

 

Experience · Lifestyle · PCOS

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Well hello again, welcome back!

This is a rather informative post about the syndrome that I have been diagnosed with. When I first started writing it all out, I thought to myself that it would be a breeze… but even though I have been aware of this condition for several months now, it's not until I have come to describe it that I've realised how complex it actually is. So grab a cuppa, buckle up and get ready to learn…

WHAT IS POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME (PCOS)?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a fairly common condition that affects how a woman's ovaries work, however many women aren't aware they have it. To understand what PCOS really is, I believe you should first understand the way in which the ovaries work.

The ovaries are located inside a woman's abdomen and about once a month an egg will start to grow inside a follicle. Quite often a number of follicles develop, but it is usually only one that will become a fully mature egg. A surge in a hormone called the Luteinising Hormone (LH) will then instruct the egg to release from the ovary, which is called ovulation, but in many cases of PCOS this sometimes does not happen and the follicles, which are filled with fluid to protect the egg, continue to stay attached to the ovary as a cyst. In some women these cysts can become quite large and painful, and even at risk of bursting which can lead to heavy blood loss, so it is important to learn to listen to your body… but don't frighten yourself, if you're concerned then go to your GP and request a scan.

There are three main features of PCOS, however diagnosis is usually based upon a woman having at least two of these features:

  • Cysts that develop on your ovaries
  • An increase of the 'male hormone' testosterone
  • Irregular or non-existent ovulation

If you have Polycystic Ovaries but none of the other features, then it is unlikely you will be diagnosed with the syndrome and less likely to suffer the symptoms. However, you still may experience difficulty with your periods and trying to conceive.

SYMPTOMS

I'm 29 years old and my symptoms started about 9 months ago. I've followed stories of other women who have been struggling with PCOS since their early teens, but also stories of more mature women. The symptoms that I personally have been suffering from are:

  • Irregular and very light periods
  • Excessive/dark hair growth (face, breasts, stomach)
  • Difficulty losing weight (Insulin Resistance)
  • Spotty face (acne)
  • Mood swings (anxiety)
  • Exhaustion
  • Pain in the lower abdomen at various times in my cycle
  • Difficulty getting pregnant

There are other symptoms, some women experience hair loss, sleep apnoea, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels too. We can also have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you don't have PCOS you still may be able to relate to a lot of the symptoms during your normal menstrual cycle, but it's the intensity of these symptoms that make us PCOS girls suffer.

CAUSES

This area is a little hazy as doctors don't really know the cause… not very comforting is it?! I've read that it can be hereditary, however this isn't the case for me. I started experiencing symptoms at the beginning of 2015 and up until that point I never had any issues with my menstrual cycle. The biggest symptom that eventually pushed me to visit my doctor in May was the pain that I was having around my lower abdomen. For a few months I thought I might be pregnant. I haven't been on the pill for several years due to bad mood swings, so there was always a possibility, but all the tests kept coming back negative and I slowly started to realise that these sharp pains weren't normal and I shouldn't be experiencing them. When I had a scan to check everything out the nurse blurted out straight away "oh you've got Polycystic Ovaries!"… it was almost like she was excited to tell me. I asked her what could have caused it, but she just shrugged it off and said that no one really knows. Then I had some blood tests and chatted it through my doctor who said that my hormones are "all over the place" and hand-in-hand with the Polycystic Ovaries I was diagnosed with the syndrome. I think the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves is to just accept that we don't know what the cause is and move on… all those hours I've spent trying to find a cause by analysing the past few years of my life really have been pointless!

TREATMENT

The sad truth is there is no cure for PCOS. There are various treatments for the symptoms, such as medication for excessive hair growth and fertility issues, but as to date there is no way to eliminate the condition. However, we can manage our symptoms and there is one easy peasy lemon squeezy way of doing this and that is through our general diet, health and fitness. Now I know this is easier said than done, but I have been there and I have made changes that have significantly improved my symptoms… so it does work!!!

MANAGING PCOS

(Medication)

If I'm honest, medication isn't something that I've looked into yet. However, my doctor did mention a few things when I was diagnosed. You can get tablets to help reduce acne and excessive hair growth, but currently I'm just making sure I remove my make up correctly, cleanse my face and moisturise. For the excessive/dark hair growth I choose to bleach, especially my upper lip… there's no chance I'm shaving that! I recently met a girl on holiday who had shaved her face but her hair grew back so thick that she started growing a bristly moustache and beard… so I would advise against this! One option my doctor suggested to help regulate my periods and encourage ovulation was to take oral contraceptives, however as we're looking to start a family in the near future she advised against this. There are fertility medicines and you can go down the route of IVF, but that's something I will explore later IF I HAVE TO… fingers crossed Hubs and I won't reach this point.

(Diet, health and fitness)

I'm not going to write too much about this point as the aim of my blog is to focus on this particular method of managing PCOS as it's my preferred choice. What I will say is that since June 2015, I made changes to my diet and introduced regular exercise into my day and I have seen significant improvements to my symptoms. The biggest one for me is that the pain is far less now than back in June. I was having pain every day and now I only experience it around (what I'm hoping is) ovulation. I generally feel better, healthier and I have more energy. I sleep better at night, I can count the number of bad days I have in a month on one hand and my periods have gone from a pathetic one day attempt to a healthy three/four day flow. I am incredibly proud of this last point, as a woman nearing 30 and hoping to start a family, this is a big achievement.

(Surgery)

I understand that surgery is a real last resort option if you've exhausted everything else and are in a lot of pain. There is a procedure called Laparoscopic Ovarian Drilling which is a keyhole procedure designed to destroy the tissue that produces testosterone. The idea of this is that the testosterone levels will fall, thus improving your PCOS symptoms and encouraging the ovaries to release eggs once they are matured. I would hope that if you've been diagnosed with PCOS your doctor would have talked through this with you if they felt it was necessary.

SO…

In conclusion, PCOS does not just mean having cysts on your ovaries but a hell of a lot of other crap too! The real kicker is that we will all experience these symptoms in different ways and, as I've stressed before, we're all individuals and react differently to the ways in which we can manage this condition. What works for some will not always work for others, so in essence it is really hard for me to advise you on the best way to relieve your symptoms. BUT… if I can be brutally honest with you, it is only YOU who can make a change and YOU have to be focused and committed. There's no quick fix to this and it is something you will have to live with for the rest of your life. So take this opportunity, grab life by the balls and work on making every day easier for yourself to live. This doesn't have to intrude on your current life, just an alteration to make it a healthier lifestyle and there will be plenty of support for you… please don't suffer in silence.

I'll stop myself here as I can feel a motivational lecture about diet, health and fitness coming on and I really need to save some information for my other posts! I hope that this blog entry has given you a better understanding about PCOS and a little insight into how it has affected me, but of course, there will be more on that in another post… you lucky things!

Stay healthy, focused and happy…

xx Gem xx