Mar 30, 2015

Fight Like a Girl: Part I

I have struggled to write this several times. I write something then delete. For some reason I'm struggling to find the right words. I'm struggling to find the right words to say. I'm struggling how to talk about this. But it's not that I don't want to talk about it. Honestly I want to pretend like it's not real.

But it is. It's my reality and I can't pretend like it's not. Well I can but it probably won't do me any good. I previously talked about our secondary infertility and that I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

I guess that means I'm officially on team teal now.

Every time I think about writing about PCOS I struggle with where to start. There's so much say about it and how I'm feeling. So for now I'm going to start with the facts. Most of you are probably like I was. I have no idea what this was. The only reason I had heard of it was because I had seen a few women talking about it on some of the trying to get pregnant forums I'm apart of. But mostly I didn't pay attention and had no idea what it even meant. When I heard about it, I figured it just had to do with having trouble getting pregnant.

It does. But there's a lot more to it than that. So like I said I'm going with facts and things that I have learned and another day, another post I'll talk about my experience and all the emotions and how I'm coping. But knowledge is power and if I can reach out to my readers about this then that's more people that know and have an awareness of this. I will say this before I start with my information dump, I am still learning. I am doing a lot of reading and a lot of researching still, so this is a learning progress that is ongoing for me.

To start: PCOS is an endocine disorder. It's a
lifelong, chronic condition. About 5-10% of women have PCOS, that's between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 women of childbearing age. Women who have a mother or sister with it are a greater risk of having PCOS, which means Addison has a higher risk of having PCOS than if I didn't.

The reason why it was discovered that I had PCOS was because of our struggle to get pregnant with two miscarriages. But PCOS isn't just about infertility. It affects a woman's menstrual cycle, causing none at all or irregular ones. It also affects hormones, heart, blood vessels, and appearance.

Simply put there is a hormone imbalance. Women with PCOS have an increased production of the hormone called androgen, which is a male hormone. That hormone causes acne, excessive hair growth on your body, weight gain, and problems with ovulation.

There are many symptoms of PCOS, but not every woman has every symptom. The symptoms include infertility, irregular or absent periods, increase hair growth on body, cysts on ovaries, acne, weight gain, thinning hair, anxiety or depression, just to list a few.

There is no cure for PCOS but there are treatments such as lifestyle changes, birth control pills, diabetes medication, fertility medication, and surgery (for cysts). However many women find that lifestyle changes have been the most effective. Many women with PCOS have an insulin resistance so cutting down on carbs helps manage that. Also many have a gluten intolerance as well and have
had to cut out gluten from their diets. Exercise also helps. All those things help keep the symptoms in check and under control.

But PCOS goes beyond just menstrual cycles, infertility, and extra hair where you don't want it and thinner hair where you do. Women with PCOS have a 4-7 times higher risk of heart attack as women of the same age. Women have a greater risk of having high blood pressure. Women have a greater chance of having high levels of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol. 50% of women with PCOS will have diabetes or pre-diabetes before age 40. Women with PCOS are also more likely to develop sleep apnea, anxiety, or depression.

After likely struggling to get pregnant with PCOS, women have a higher risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and premature delivery.

However like I said, all the symptoms and risks are better when treated. There is no one-fix all for women with PCOS because every woman responds differently to different medicine and different techniques. Although we could all benefit from better diets and more exercise. From what I read, many women find that controlling their symptoms have been best with the lifestyles changes than with any medicine.

If you feel overwhelmed by that information then you are just touching of the surface of how I feel. On one hand I'm relieved to have a reason for why I've been feeling the way I have been for so long and for having an explanation for our infertility. But on the other hand, this isn't something that I can fix now and then go back to life as it was. This is something that I will carry and struggle with for the rest of my life.

So now you have the facts. There are probably more I left out. I know there is a lot of information about lifestyle changes that I didn't even touch on, not to mention how I feel about all this and what my experience has been, but that's for a different day.

xo, B

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