I have PCOS – which stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. According to this article around 3.5 million women in the UK have it, but as the symptoms can vary so much from woman to woman everyone experiences it differently. As many as 20 percent of women can have cysts on their ovaries (which is called ‘PCO’) but when you have this plus one or more other symptoms this is when it becomes PCOS. There are lots of different symptoms that can mean you have PCOS, and each one can be managed in a few different ways, although there is no cure yet for PCOS itself. Natures Best have a helpful collection of articles with a lots of information on, which I recommend reading through to find some ways to help your symptoms.
The other symptoms I have are: easy weight gain, increase in tiredness (I’d go so far as to call it exhaustion if I don’t treat it,) headaches, and excess hair growth on my face, arms and abdomen. I also used to have very irregular periods in my 20’s but since having children these have thankfully kicked into a regular schedule, although they are much heavier than pre-kids. I was diagnosed in my late 20’s and I think some of the symptoms were masked with hormonal contraception before that.
When I first got a diagnosis I spent a lot of time online reading about PCOS and on some forums with other women going through the same thing, which really helped! I think I rarely even mention it now unless it comes up in conversation as it’s just a part of who I am. On a day to day basis I suppose there are a few things that I find myself doing like spending time plucking out errant hairs, or waxing/shaving more than the average woman probably does – not helped by the fact that I have light skin and dark hair naturally! In fact I think the excess hair is the worst symptom for me as the process of keeping the hair gone is never ending, and I have in fact just booked myself a course of laser hair removal for my face, which I hope will help to slow and even lessen the regrowth permanently.
Pre-kids I was managing my weight quite well, with a good exercise regime and healthy eating I was maintaining a ‘healthy’ BMI. However I have not been very on the ball with either of those recently any my weight has crept back up again, and I am firmly in the overweight category according to the NHS BMI chart. Part of the reason I don’t exercise as much as I should is because I feel too tired a lot of the time, as my anaemia can cause me to feel lethargic and like I’d rather do anything that go for a run! So, in a round about way both my weight gain and excess hair has caused me to often have days of low self esteem, as I don’t look how I’d really love to look.
I take several vitamins and supplements each day now, which I think to help to lessen the effects of my PCOS:
A vitamin D enriched Multi vitamin – good for general health
Iron Supplements – to help increase the iron levels in blood and combat the symptoms of anaemia, so I’m not so tired!
St John’s Wort – a natural remedy for low moods
And I really do feel different when I forget to take these supplements for a day or two, especially the iron!
I was also worried when we started thinking about having children that PCOS might make it harder, as the doctor who diagnosed me said that it can take far longer than ‘average’ (whatever that is with making babies) to get pregnant, although thankfully we actually had no problems and conceived faster than we expected to with both children.
If you’ve got PCOS then I’d love to know what you find helps, and if you’ve got any tried and tested ways to reduce the symptoms!