Infertility,  Life Updates,  PCOS

Now I Know: Getting Diagnosed With PCOS

I’ve always had a feeling that motherhood wouldn’t come easily for me. Now I know.

This summer I was officially diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).

There were many symptoms that I’ve had since my teenage years (irregular cycles, ovarian cysts, horrendous mood swings), and many more that I’ve collected in the past few years (weight gain, acne, facial hair) that lead me to believe I could have PCOS. However, I never pursued getting a diagnosis. Partly, this is because I have a horrible attitude about doctors, but also my previous experiences with doctors were less than helpful.

When I was 16, it was discovered that I had ovarian cysts. We only learned this after one ruptured–which remains to this day the most physically painful experience of my life. The only solution offered to me at that point was birth control. Me being 16 and having no plans for children in the near future, went along with it. It never set well with me, but it “regulated” my periods for awhile. In fact, I didn’t have another cyst rupture until I went off the pill a couple years later. At which point (since I still wasn’t planning on children right then) I was put back on the pill.

I did this off and on for a couple more years, frustrated to have my issues covered up with a non-solution. But since I wasn’t trying to get pregnant, there was “no point” in getting to the bottom of what I was experiencing. At least that’s how I was made to feel. I always heard the same thing from doctors: birth control for now, fertility drugs later. These responses were always incredibly disappointing, because I wanted to know WHY I didn’t have a normal period. Why I am so ridiculously emotional. Why I am getting worse and worse breakouts as I get older (isn’t it supposed to get better after the teenage years?!).

What’s worse is that after years of no answers, I convinced myself that I didn’t deserve answers until I was ready to start trying to conceive.

This is so sad to me now that I know exactly what’s wrong with me. Even though we aren’t “ready” (what does that even mean, really?) to start trying to conceive, we have decided to stop preventing. So this summer I went to a doctor, determined to get answers. That day I walked away with a diagnosis. I expected to feel relieved that my suspicions were confirmed–that I now know exactly what I’m up against. However, I felt numb and disappointed that this is my reality.

Before my diagnosis, I had hope that maybe we hadn’t gotten pregnant in our four years of marriage because we were still preventing. I’ve always wanted to be a mom, and even when we were using multiple methods of birth control I always hoped that it would miraculously happen. I was always disappointed at being two weeks late with several negative pregnancy tests (even though it’s normal for me to be even “later” than that).

But now, I’m having to face the fact that I really am broken, and it really will take some extra work to get pregnant. This is something that I am still coming to grips with, especially during these first few months of not preventing.

Now that I know I have PCOS, I’m not afraid or hopeless. I’m not confident that I can do xyz and my body with straighten up. I feel a little lost, but mostly found. Found because I can now reassure myself that I’m a furious emotional wreck over forgetting to bring my grocery list to the store because my hormones are all out of balance. Lost because I don’t know where to go from there. You see, even though I received a diagnosis, my doctor still offered no options or advice (other than continuing to lose weight) until we are “seriously trying”, at which point we can explore fertility treatments.

It’s frustrating to feel like unless I’m avoiding pregnancy, or making detailed spreadsheets of my conception efforts, that I’m on my own. I’ve lost 20lbs and counting over the past year by making better decisions about food and activity. I’ve looked into supplements that will help to balance hormones (vitex, anyone?). Right now, I want to be healthy for the sake of being healthy. I just want a chance to heal my reproductive system, regardless of whether or not we’re trying to conceive.

So that’s how I found out I have PCOS. My approach to dealing with it is probably different from most, but it’s what works for me right now. I’ll elaborate in future posts about why I never felt right about birth control, why we’re “not trying, not preventing” rather than full on TTC (trying to conceive), and more that I’ve learned since being diagnosed. Welcome to my journey!