This blog was written on 7/10/2020 and will be updated on 11/10/2020 after a follow-up check in.
I’ve always hated going to the doctor, for this very reason: You leave with information you feel like you wish you wouldn’t have know. I went to the Gynecologist for my yearly check up and STI testing, but because I have an IUD, they wanted to do an ultrasound too. No biggy, right? Wrong.
So, when all was said and done, I was diagnoses with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS, a genetic, incurable syndrome. Now, this is not fatal or life threatening in anyway. In fact, 10 percent of women have it. Basically, I have larger than normal ovaries, with small cysts on them. This causes my hormones to be imbalances: higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of estrogen, irregular or non-existent egg release, or irregular ovulation. Not sure what causes it, so I am trying not to dwell on that. All I know, and need to worry about is that I have it.
What this means: The symptoms
There is a range of symptoms, some not so bad, some not so good.
Externally, the symptoms that I have been having linked to PCOS are increased hair growth due to lower levels of estrogen, and increased acne. My menstrual cycle would be irregular and heavier, but the IUD has been helping that. However, I’m more worried about the potential internal complications.
Internally, PCOS increases the risk of diabetes, thyroid complications, and infertility. As it stands, I am 50% less likely to successfully get pregnant because of PCOS. I’ve gotten blood testing done to assess the issues of the pancreas (where insulin is made) and the thyroid, so that will come in a later post.
Weight gain or issues losing weight are also common symptoms with PCOS.
Some other common symptoms, mentally, are increased anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and/or eating disorders (in my case, binge eating).
Aftermath: Lifestyle Changes
Well, my Gynecologist suggested a couple of different things to “ease” the symptoms that I might be having and prevent some other ones. The first thing that I need to do is to change my diet, says the Doc. I admit, I have gotten way off track with my eating since COVID19 trampled through the world, and I’ve been very inconsistent. So, she recommended a pescatarian or vegetarian diet. Fat from meat and processed meats can make things worse, and they don’t help with the anxiety factor either. So cutting out certain meats and substituting fiber rich veggies instead is the way to go for me.
Likewise, there are some vitamins and supplements that can be taken to keep the inside of the body functioning like normal:
Magnesium: helps improve insulin resistance (diabetes prevention) and helps with inflammation.
Zinc: helps reduce testosterone levels, which will in turn help with acne and excessive hair growth.
Vitamin D: helps your mood, mitigates depression, and also helps to improve insulin functioning.
All these things can be bought over the counter and never hurt to be taken for preventative measures. I bought them when I left the doctor’s office, in a fit-storm, quick and eager to take the doctor’s recommendations.
But let’s talk about the emotional side of things as well. My first question, having been ignorant to all of this just minutes before my appointment, was “can this kill me?”. I was relieved to hear “no” but was not expecting the “but…”. Some of the symptoms, I can deal with. I can deal with the pain that comes and goes in my lower abdomen; the IUD has helped that. I can deal with the facial hair and acne, even though sometimes they make me feel less feminine and unpretty. But, the fear of diabetes, the fear of unsuccessful pregnancies if I changed my mind and chose to have kids, that’s where the tears came from. I must say, I don’t want children, nor have I ever, but knowing how hard it’ll be if I decide to change my mind is rough.
I felt scared, I felt like the drizzle of the last couple of months has turned into a downpour, and I felt panicked. I know that I would tell someone in my situation to “be positive”, but sometimes you have to let people be human and feel for a moment; and this is my moment.
Misconception about PCOS
All my life, I have worked out and ate rather decently to avoid the health complications that my parents and family members have had. I’ve prided myself on how healthy I was, always putting “excellent” on patient forms at the doctor’s office. But yet, here we are.
People think that a person who has PCOS is overweight, unhealthy, old, promiscuous (PCOS is not an STI), etc. There are many myths about why or how someone gets this. But the former reasons are FALSE. Truth is, it’s just your genes. I am healthy, fit, and do not change sexual partners often, but here I am. This is what PCOS looks like. It can be anyone, really. Diet and exercise can increase or decrease symptoms, but are not the root cause.
Another misconception is that you can’t pregnant if you have PCOS. This is simply not true. The truth is, you can get pregnant, but because you ovulation cycles will not be consistent, it is harder. And yes, there are some women who need or want to take hormones or get injections to speed up the pregnancy process and regulate their reproductive system, but this is in serious cases, not all cases.
Positive Outlook (’cause that’s what Finding Jaymee is about)
I am so grateful that the news was not worse. I am also very grateful that what I need is lifestyle/diet change and not prescribed medicines or invasive operations. Yes, like I said before, I had my human, emotional ass moment, but that does not mean that I have neglected my gratitude. I am alive, on this earth to live another day and try again; can’t be mad about that!
I am grateful for my fitness and my general health, because I could have made it worse by not doing right by my body. I am so grateful for the doctor that I saw today, a women who did not dismiss my health and was willing to sit and take extra time to explain to me what was happening, what can be done, and offer reassurance. Far too often, the health of black women is undermined and taken lightly, and I do not feel like this happened today, thank goodness.
Most importantly, or maybe equally as important, I am grateful for the people in my corner. I called one of my friends just seconds after getting in my car to drive home. She radiated positive energy and gave back to me what I have been giving to others. Likewise, there is a community of women that have this syndrome and are living their best lives. There is even an instagram page with facts and tips dedicated to informing and helping women with PCOS. No one goes through anything alone. I don’t have to go through anything alone. Isn’t that a blessing in and of itself?
I just wanted to share this with you all, with my community, supporters, etc. Would love to know your thoughts, comments, or even if you have a PCOS diagnosis (for the guys, if you know someone with the diagnosis).
POSITIVITY, growth, and all the things,