i’ve grumbled here a few times about my health and pcos concerns, but lately it’s been getting to a point that i can no longer treat the sideline symptoms and need to focus more on the core of it all. (chrissy, i owe you an email.)
never heard of pcos? it stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. although the cause of pcos is not known, it appears that it may be related to many different factors working together, that include insulin resistance, increased levels of androgens, and an irregular menstrual cycle.
the most fun part is the common signs and symptoms include:
- irregular menstrual periods—menstrual bleeding may be absent, heavy, or unpredictable
- infertility —pcos is one of the most common causes of female infertility
- obesity—up to 80% of women with pcos are obese
- difficulty in losing weight
- excess hair growth on the face, chest, abdomen, or upper thighs—this condition, called hirsutism, affects more than 70% of women with pcos
- severe acne or acne that occurs after adolescence and does not respond to usual treatments
- oily skin
- male-patterned baldness
- patches of thickened, velvety, darkened skin called acanthosis nigricans
- multiple small cysts on the ovaries
- depression and anxiety
- increased chance of diabetes and high cholesterol
sounds like a blast, doesn’t it?
after being formally diagnosed 2.5 years ago (and probably actually having it since puberty), i felt comforted that things started to make sense. there was a reason i was like i was. i took it semi-seriously, meeting with a nutritionist and personal trainer. but that moved slowly.
then i decided to turn to a quick fix, fad diet, meal replacement shake. and i lost a lot of weight, because that’s what i was “supposed” to do to fix this syndrome, and because i was starving myself to the tune of around 200-250 calories a meal, and often going full weekends with only consuming 400 calories of “cleanse” products.
and i looked hot. and it worked…until it didn’t.
that relapse was one of the hardest moments of my adult life – you know, besides the melodramatic, angst-y shit i become worked up over…like boys and long lines at village ice cream.
i settled back into every negative thought and eating pattern that i have been fighting my entire life. it was a thick fog of disordered eating, negative self-talk and looking to
others men for reassurance, comfort and ‘love’. for some reason i was surprised when none of these relationships lasted.
it wasn’t until about a month ago that i smartened up with getting my health in check (i smartened up about frequent dating quite a while ago – dating is the worst.) every symptom of pcos returned, and possibly stronger than ever. it started with booking more blood tests, then being scheduled for an appointment with an endocrinologist (in June – it’s the canadian healthcare system after all). i have taken out or put on order almost every book from the library and every medical study i can get my hands on.
i also found a pretty fantastic support and “diet” challenge group on facebook. it’s really comforting to read the stories of the other women going through the same thing. i say “diet” because i really don’t like that word, because its definition is so tightly bound to starvation for the purpose of losing weight and pure aesthetics. instead, i’m redefining the word to mean choosing the foods to heal from the inside and nourish my body. the group’s organizer has put together meal plans that help aid our bodies in fighting pcos. knowing that creating long-lasting habits takes many small changes, she is introducing one meal at a time. the first week? breakfast!
if you’re following me on snapchat (laurabridgman) you’ll see the final product of a lot of the breakfast recipes i’ve been trying out this week. it’s basically lower carb, high fat, high protein with many low GI veggies. frittatas with sweet potato and sausage, and steak and eggs have been a change for me in take in in the mornings, but so far the results have been great. i’m following up each pcos-friendly breakfast with my own adaptation of approved foods for lunch and dinner. (next week we get the dinner meal plan, the week after that lunch.) it’s been a week and i’m already seeing huge improvements in my digestion. i can’t comment on energy levels yet, since i think i’ve got a strong case of carb flu.
what’s next? more blood tests (life-long now), doctors appointments and specialist appointments. thankfully, i have no concern about being fertile right now (maybe ever?) so i don’t need to worry about that.
i also need to learn this whole “lifestyle” thing because quick-fix doesn’t do it. but if you think i’m giving up village ice cream, you’re sorely mistaken – sister is coming to visit me in june after all – it’s just going to be severely limited. being social and going out for meals with friends/navigating menus could be tough. yup, i’m going to be “that girl” when ordering. thankfully i already don’t drink much, so i’ve already mastered bar nights and alcoholism peer pressure.
it’s been nice having the support of fellow “cysters”, as the group calls the ladies. i just love word play so much. i guess that’s the point of this long, drawn out post: awareness and support. while pcos is probably the most common reason for female infertility, it’s still not that talked about or understood. so ya, maybe i’m fat, anxiety-ridden and losing my hair and/or growing it in less than ideal places, but it’s only partly because i’m lazy and crazy, not fully.
so you’ll find me in the kitchen, or reading, or trying some fitness things and trying not to cry while hugging loaves of bread and rocking them like babies. feel free to join me for any of the above. i foresee a lot of healthy, alcohol-free dinner parties at my new apartment that no one will want to come to.
did you know about pcos? do you have some avocados i can eat?