PCOS: An invisible illness

It’s been about 8 years now since I’ve been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.) Now, it didn’t just appear one day out of no where. I most likely have always had it but the symptoms just started surfacing once I got married. It took me years to figure out what this meant for me. Even till this day, I still have a hard time explaining it. Why? Because I’ve lived with it for so long that it just became a part of me. I never really had a chance to allow myself to examine and accept the affects of this disorder.

It’s hard to talk about our flaws isn’t it? Who goes around talking about what makes them broken and imperfect?

in pain

September is PCOS Awareness Month and I’ve decided to share somethings about PCOS that you may not be aware of:

  1. Infertility. PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder women can have and its also the one of the most common cause of female infertility. 1 in 10 women will most likely have PCOS.

  2. Beyond the Ovaries. Even though its named Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, the ovaries aren’t the only thing affected by this condition. It is a condition that affects the health across the board and it affects each person differently.

  3. The Symptoms are Endless. Irregular menstrual cycles, male pattern baldness, weight gain, infertility, depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, acne, struggle with weight loss (insulin resistance) , obesity, a higher potential to have Type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar, and more. You don’t have to have all the symptoms to have PCOS. It is a chronic and invisible illness.

  4. There is No Cure. As of current, it’s quite unclear what causes it and treatment for this disorder can only keep symptoms in check. Studies are still on the rise. A theory is that genetics play a role; however, this is not proven. The effects are not just physical but they take a huge toll on a person’s mental health.

  5. Lifestyle Transformation. Studies have shown that the best way to improve symptoms is a change in lifestyle such as diet and exercise. Which is quite typical for any diagnosis right? What you consume, you become. Your body reflects what you put in/on it.

  6. Lack of Self-esteem. It’s not a surprise that women struggle with self-esteem already. But women with PCOS are affected even more so this way. Because of anxiety and depression they feel this intensely. It’s an emotional effect.

    “In a study in women with PCOS, it has been shown that low self-worth and body image perception in women causes increasing of the anxiety level. Physical attractiveness and sexual response changes affect the Self-confidence in these women. Self-confidence is the most important determinants of mental health that play an important role in promoting mental health. In other words, cognitive processes, emotion, motivation, decision making and choice, is the result of Self-confidence. Since low Self-confidence has a negative effect on feeling, thought and relationships between people, it requires further attention. So this study was done for ascertaining Self-confidence in patients suffered from PCOS in comparison to women without PCOS.”

Quite honestly prior to getting diagnosed, I thought that all these things were normal about me. My doctors couldn’t see it. It took me 4-5 years just to get diagnosed and it was finally by an infertility specialist. Believe me when I say this, it took me a LONG time to be able to share my diagnosis with people. Especially those closest to me. I didn’t want the judgement or the pity. I didn’t know how I’d handle it. I don’t quite recall when, but some time after, I was able to start talking more about it. I know that this disorder does not define who I am. But in a season of healing and trust, I’m learning to embrace my body and to love it as my Creator intended me to.

This has taken me a long time to get to. It is a practice. To be intentional with what I’m consuming. To be conscious of what I surround myself with. To treat this body as a beautiful temple for the Holy Spirit. This body does not belong to me and when the time comes, I want to look to the Lord and say that I did my best to care for it. Grant it, there are days where PCOS overtakes me and I’m literally fighting with every ounce in me to not allow it to throw me in the backseat. You see PCOS is an invisible illness. It’s affects are daily. Some days, I feel like a normal human being. Most days, I’m pulling myself out of bed and praying that I have the energy to survive another day. This is my reality. It’s a mental and spiritual battle just to live with PCOS.

If you or someone you know has PCOS or a chronic illness, please don’t hesitate to share your story.

I see you and love you.



Sources:

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/slideshows/8-things-you-didnt-know-about-pcos?slide=10

https://www.babygaga.com/12-serious-facts-about-pcos-women-dont-know-but-should/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4275552/

Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

What is PCOS?

What is PCOS? If you're wondering...

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition in which there is an imbalance of a woman's female sex hormones. This hormone imbalance may cause changes in the menstrual cycle, skin changes, small cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, and other problems.



Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Female sex hormones include estrogen and progesterone, as well as hormones called androgens. Androgens, often called "male hormones," are also present in women, but in different amounts.
Hormones help regulate the normal development of eggs in the ovaries during each menstrual cycle. Polycystic ovary syndrome is related to an imbalance in these female sex hormones. Too much androgen hormone is made, along with changes in other hormone levels.
It is not completely understood why or how the changes in the hormone levels occur.
Follicles are sacs within the ovaries that contain eggs. Normally, one or more eggs are released during each menstrual cycle. This is called ovulation. In polycystic ovary syndrome, the eggs in these follicles do not mature and are not released from the ovaries. Instead, they can form very small cysts in the ovary.
These changes can contribute to infertility. The other symptoms of this disorder are due to the hormone imbalances.
Women are usually diagnosed when in their 20s or 30s, but polycystic ovary syndrome may also affect teenage girls. The symptoms often begin when a girl's periods start. Women with this disorder often have a mother or sister who has symptoms similar to those of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Symptoms

Changes in the menstrual cycle:
  • Absent periods, usually with a history of having one or more normal menstrual periods during puberty (secondary amenorrhea)
  • Irregular menstrual periods, which may be more or less frequent, and may range from very light to very heavy
Development of male sex characteristics:
  • Decreased breast size
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Enlargement of the clitoris
  • Increased body hair on the chest, abdomen, and face, as well as around the nipples
  • Thinning of the hair on the head, called male-pattern baldness
Other skin changes:
  • Acne that gets worse
  • Dark or thick skin markings and creases around the armpits, groin, neck, and breasts due to insulin sensitivity

    Complications

    • Increased risk of endometrial cancer
    • Infertility (early treatment of polycystic ovary disease can help prevent infertility or increase the chance of having a healthy pregnancy)
    • Obesity-related (BMI over 30 and waist circumferance greater than 35) conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes
    • Possible increased risk of breast cancer

HOPE-less?

 

 

Lately, I've been feeling a bit down & blue. I guess to be exact, DEPRESSED. It's really starting to take a toll on me. And I'm not sure where to go from here. All I can do is leave it in the Lord's hands. Because I am a mere human being that does not have the will power to cast off my PCOS. But then again, like I said, I am human. I have doubts, and lately, I've just been researching & figuring out what to do next. The next step. Because I'm just a planner. That's how I am. 

 

Lately this his has been my daily routine:

Google-->How to treat PCOS-->How to conceive with PCOS-->PCOS diets

 

And so on and so forth... one page leads to another, and all the information on the websites are great & "helpful" but where do I begin? Where do I start this whole entire process of life change? And then the questions pop up again in my head, "Why, of all the people in the world, do I have to be diagnosed with PCOS? Why me?" It's not that fertility is impossible for me, its just a bit more difficult. My chances are slimmer than most women. Which starts to make me feel like I've lost my womanhood. Not being able to conceive naturally like others. 

 

Day in and day out, I think to myself & pray quietly. Today, the Lord has just been reminding me that "Sometimes the Lord calms the storm, but sometimes He lets the storm ride along, & calms His child."

I believe with all my heart that their will be some sort of sunshine at the end of the road. But its just taking me a while to get to that point where I can just let go & accept it. This is my current struggle. I know my Lord & Savior has a plan for Roger & I. I know that through this journey, the Lord will be able to glorify Himself someday. I just need a sign. Or an answer. Which is why I'd like to share this poem with you. Its been a great reminder for myself. I took it off of SawdustandEmbryos.( My Inspiration) Check it out. I hope this poem gives you some sort of comfort as well, in any situation even if not like mine.

Wait

by Russell Kelfer

 


Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, "Wait." 

"Wait? you say wait?" my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith, I have asked, and I'm claiming your Word. 

"My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
Or even a 'no' to which I can resign. 

"You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply." 

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, "Wait."
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting for what?" 

He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.

"I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You'd have what you want, but you wouldn't know Me. 

You'd not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint."You'd not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there.
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.

"You'd never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

"The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

"You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I'm doing in you.

"So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait."