Life with PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common health problem among women that causes an imbalance of hormones. It affects 10-15% of women ages 15-44, and I am one of them. Most of the women are often diagnosed between ages 20 and 30 when they are having trouble having children. I was diagnosed with PCOS at 16 by an OB/GYN because I was over-weight and had irregular periods. I didn’t know then how much PCOS would affect my life as I got older.
I would have a few normal months of a ‘regular’ period but then I would go months without a period. Sometimes they can last a week, sometimes they are only a few days. As I got older I got more of the other symptoms of PCOS like hair in places where only men get hair like on my face, losing hair from my head, bad acne, and difficulty to lose weight. Often other symptoms are skin tags, weight gain, and darkening of the skin.
When I got into my 20’s I developed sleep apnea and high blood pressure that was all linked to my PCOS. My doctors could never explain how or why they were all connected but they were, and I could have more problems as I got older. Other health problems are Type 2 Diabetes, High Cholesterol, Depression, Anxiety, and Endometrial Cancer.
The worse thing that I get with PCOS is a cyst that develops in my ovaries. I have spent many nights in pain at the ER with large cyst and there is really nothing they can do or give me besides something for the pain. I have had surgery to remove about 40 cysts called a laparoscopy. All they did was use a few small incisions and took them out.
Unfortunately that isn’t the magic cure. I still have PCOS and deal with a cyst on a regular basis. Unfortunately there is no cure to get rid of PCOS like there is for most things but there are some things you can do to help treat and improve your symptoms of PCOS. Some of the steps I do is working on losing weight by eating right and exercising as much as I can. I also take Metformin. Metformin is usually used to treat type 2 diabetes but some doctors think it can help with PCOS. It’s not FDA approved but doctors think using metformin for a few months could help restart ovulation which can help have a regular cycle. Also taking hormonal birth control can help make your cycles more regular, reduce your chance of endometrial cancer, help with acne and extra hair on your face or body.
Women who have PCOS can still get pregnant. I know for me I would like to have kids in the future so some ways I am helping my odds when that time comes is still weight loss. Also, there are medications doctors can give to help get pregnant like clomid. Also, IUI and IVF are options for women who want to have children who have PCOS. Also, there is a last resort surgery called ovarian drilling. The surgery restores ovulation but only for a few months.
No, I’m not a doctor so I can’t say that everything I go through is the only way PCOS affects everyone. PCOS affects everyone differently. Some women may have the same symptoms as me, some may not. Everything I have learned about PCOS has come from my own research and a lot of doctor appointments with my OB and my family doctor. There are several websites out there that you can go onto to learn more about PCOS.
I know for me I have a few friends who also have PCOS and we all talk to each other about our different symptoms and our struggles with it. PCOS has it own awareness month in September. Everyone knows someone whether it is someone’s mother, daughter, sister, friend, cousin, or niece who is affected by PCOS. The number one thing we can do is learn all we can about PCOS and help those effected by it.