Today I’ll be talking about my PCOS experience. So I just found out I have PCOS. I’ll be taking maybe two weeks off to deal with it and recover, but I wanted to explain exactly what my type of PCOS (with no infertility issues means). Chances are you may know someone with PCOS and they don’t even know it. Alright so let’s start off with my history with messed up hormones and why it took me 30+ years to finally get a diagnosis… I’ve always been super skinny, see the pre-photographer days photos and photos taken by friends. However, most people think of PCOS as having major weight issues. But the reality is, that any major hormonal imbalance can be called PCOS. In fact, you don’t even need ovarian cysts. Which is in the name, Polycystic ovary syndrome. Confusing, right? Truth is hormonal issues that don’t cause fertility problems don’t get enough research so they get lumped into PCOS.
My hormonal imbalance symptoms included:
Painful periods (so much so that it was pretty much a known fact I wouldn’t show up to school or work the first day of my period).
Heavy, no seriously, heavy periods. So heavy, no amount of pads and contraptions held it in. It would come out like a flood. And shoot down my legs leaving bloody footprints through my high school. I was beyond embarrassment. I was PISSED. My teachers begged my mother to allow me to go on Birth Control pills to help control my hormones, however she felt it would somehow make me loose. Yes, very very ignorant and a total BAD CALL mom. She regrets her decision now, but it made for some hard times. Thanks to great understanding teachers, they would let pass despite all my absences. I was a straight A student even missing 1-2 days a cycle.
Acne, the gross full face and full body kind. Strangely enough I had and still have dry skin and acne. (good luck trying to find products for that skin type!)
Migraines, Migraines, and Migraines! Oh my! So many migraines it was just normal for me to miss even more days of school/work due to needing to be in fetal position in a dark room somewhere.
Depression and mood swings, yep…I was an emotional rollercoaster. I cruised the spectrum of anger and uncontrollable crying…FOR NO REASON. Didn’t matter that life was pretty good and I was logically happy. I couldn’t help but cry myself to sleep every night.
So because of the depression I’m adding this…bags under my eyes. Yeah it wouldn’t have happened without the hormonal imbalance. Damnit.
Insomnia. Yup crying all night doesn’t let you sleep much. Alright so let’s just say high school sucked! Then I got into collage, FIU and finally had access to healthcare without my mom. Day one…I got birth control.
It was touch and go for a while. Some made me bleed non stop the entire cycle. Some made me hysterically cry all day long. So imagine me sitting in the back of class or in the public restrooms quietly sobbing. No reason. Just hormones.
Finally right before I graduated I was given Yaz. Life finally BEGAN!
My skin wasn’t perfect, but it was more normal. (I’ll take it!!!) I wasn’t crying. I was chill. I had less body hair. Zero cramps and hardly any menstruation. Good times were rolling. I got a job, met my husband, was normal enough to make friends. Had a life. ::HIGH FIVES::
Then the studies came out. Yaz and it’s close alternative Yasmin were killing women. My now husband was worried. He told me to get off it. Then slowly but surly, my ass started to expand. Alright I was probably too skinny, no big deal. But the other symptoms returned. The detoxing period when I first quit was the worst. It lasted months. Maybe a full year. I was insane.
Two years into marriage I was 15+ pounds, full blown acne, and hysterically crying. I knew my whole life I had a hormone problem and it was back with vengeance.
Doctor’s Couldn’t Help My Type of Hormonal Imbalance
So why didn’t I get help from doctors? Short answer, I tried. They told me that my choices were Yaz/Yasmin or deal with it. They simply didn’t have a treatment other than that. I got pregnant, had a baby, and continued to explode on my skin and have hormonal issues. I asked to see an endocrinologist, but insurance required a referral and I was denied because I didn’t have any (what they consider) extreme problems. For my skin…get on the pill. For depression…get on another pill. That’s all our medical system had to offer me.
Functional Medicine, Chinese Medicine, and Acupuncture
My husband this whole time was going to school for Acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Now, I’ll start off saying that I would joke about how that was just BS and hocus pocus. I didn’t believe that stuff worked and I had NO interest in it.
Up until I started coughing one night uncontrollably. Medicine wouldn’t work. Tea wouldn’t sooth. He was sick of my coughing and popped in a needle. I just stopped coughing. He removed it and I started up again. So we kept it in. Me, scared to death of needles slept with it in me.
So now I’m paying attention. He starts talking about functional medicine and the scientific studies that support all the things he does and now I’m starting to get mad. Why don’t regular doctors do this? Why are they not taught functional medicine? It treats the source. People actually get better.
Insurance doesn’t really cover any of theses tests, so it was about $200-300. For my hormones I did a cycle long saliva test. You spit every few days on your cycle into a tube, freeze them, the mail them off.
My current gyno actually told me there was no such test to test your hormones. Because if you test your hormones they fluctuate your entire cycle and you would need to test throughout your cycle to get an accurate picture of what’s going on. Then I explained that this test does that. He was in shock. Decades of practice and he didn’t know there was a test like this. Wow.
My Test Results
Very high DHEA, high off the charts Testosterone, Extremely high Estrogen (estrogen dominance), low Progesterone in the second half of my cycle. BOOM!
The problem with estrogen dominance is that, “when estrogen levels are high in relation to our progesterone we experience many severe symptoms, among them anxiety, breast tenderness, cyclical headaches or migraines, depression, digestive issues, fuzzy thinking, palpitations, food cravings, irregular bleeding, water retention, weight gain and more.”
There are usually multiple causes, including stress, emotional factors, and the estrogen-like chemicals in our environment called xenoestrogens.
The truth is, healthy hormonal balance is complicated. It isn’t just a matter of not enough progesterone. That’s a little like arguing that menopause is caused by not enough estrogen.
So now what?
How I’m Going To Attack This Problem
- Reduce Stress
- Reduce exposure to estrogen-like chemical in our environment (xenoestrogens)
- Take bio-identical Progesterone Oil topically (the brand I linked comes with a huge list of xenoestrogens to avoid and alternative products to help get you started)
- A custom Chinese Medicine tincture. This is where my husband comes in handy. He’s made me a custom tincture. It’s gross, but just a quick squirt or two in the back of my throat a day is all I need. I can handle it. This one will help lower the testosterone and balance hormones.
- Professional Supplements my husband has also chosen for me for stress reduction. A big cause of hormonal imbalance.
- Sleep more. Hormones are balanced naturally if you’re sleeping throughout the night, so no more late nights up blogging. I’ll be getting at least 9hrs of sleep per night whenever I can. Keeping in mind that sleeping during the day do not balance hormones, it’s that much more important to me to go to bed earlier every night.
- Exercise. Moderate exercise can help with hormones. While exercising too much can bring them more out of balance. So it’s a delicate balancing act all around.
- Taking my vitamins. I cannot swallow pills, but for my heath I’m going to start. Even if I need to chew each and every one of them. I’m taking them.
- Reverse osmosis water filter to help remove xenoestrogens from the water we drink and cook with. Some good options: here, here, here
What’s The Next Battle For Me
These photos were all taken while I was on BC and looked and felt my best. So I’m hoping to eventually get back to that place.
At the same time I did my hormone testing, I also did a food sensitivities test. This lead me to the sad but also obvious discovery that I have a particularly extreme case of Leaky Gut. So more on that in another post.
I’m currently recovering from abdominal laser lipo surgery. I’ll be busy recovering from that (more on that in an upcoming post). As soon as that’s healed up I’m starting my hormonal treatment protocol. After a few months of that going on, I’ll be back with an update.
So while it totally sucks to have a problem, it’s beyond amazing to FINALLY know exactly what is wrong. I’ve heard everything from taking Estrogen, to strange myths to treat my issues. None of these would have helped and some would have SERIOUSLY harmed me. (imagine if someone estrogen dominate took estrogen!) Knowing is important. If you know in your heart something is wrong with your body. Take charge of your life. Maybe a traditional doctor cannot help you treat and find the root cause. But find an Acupuncturist, find a naturopathic doctor, or look for doctor that deals with functional medicine and bioidentical hormone therapy. These treatments and tests will likely NOT be covered by insurance. They are expensive. But isn’t your health worth it?
I know I was spending hundreds of dollars a months on pain meds, acne treatments that didn’t work, spa treatments, etc. Trying to shoot in the dark doesn’t work. Fight for your health and don’t take no for an answer.