Sunday, 16 August 2015

PCOS my story

My name is Laura Macdonald and I was diagnosed with PCOS just over 2 years ago. I wanted to share my story of how I was diagnosed, what PCOS is and generally make people more aware of it as it is not spoken about highly enough in my opinion. Just a heads up, there will be pictures of my hair growth as well as talking about periods, it might be a little too much information for some, but I want to be as open and as honest as possible.

What is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome. When I was told by my doctor she believed I could have this, I had never heard of it before, but I know poly means many, and I know what cysts and ovaries are and guessed I could have several cysts on my ovaries. This is one of the symptoms of PCOS. Other symptoms include high levels of male hormones in your body and not ovulating regularly. It is thought 1 in 5 women have PCOS yet more then half have none of these symptoms and are therefore not diagnosed. Every case of PCOS is different and the severity of the symptoms and how many a women has differs. The actual cause is unknown but it is thought to be related to abnormal hormone levels, there is no cure but there is medication that can help such as Metformin and the contraceptive pill.

How was I diagnosed?

I knew my periods had become even less regular then usual. In my teens, my periods were every 3-5 weeks, very unpredictable. As I got to my 20s, I was having a period once every 2 or 3 months, this is when I thought something was not quite right. I bought 2 pregnancy testing kits to rule that out, both were negative so I went to see a doctor. With my difficulty losing weight and my irregular periods, the doctor I saw thought I may have PCOS, but this could only be confirmed with a blood test and an ultrasound. At this point I never spoke about my hair growth but with the leaflets my doctor gave me and reading into PCOS more, I was sure that was the answer. I had to go into hospital for my ultrasound. Unfortunately this is an internal ultrasound and cannot be performed unless the patient has lost her virginity. I was very worried about having the ultrasound done, I went in alone and I did not want anyone looking at my bits. You have a sheet over you and it is all done with dignity. I asked to look at the ultra sound pictures and as suspected, it confirmed I had PCOS.

How did I react?

Badly. I went back home with my mum and I hysterically cried. I already felt less feminine due to my hair growth and with PCOS often leading to fertility problems, I felt like the only thing that defines me as a woman, childbearing, had been taken away. Today I feel a lot different about it, it does not affect me on a day to day basis and there is hope I can have children of my own in the future. I would like to reiterate that many women with PCOS have gone on to have children, I just reacted badly rather then thinking it does not define who I am.

How did my partner react? 

The thing I was worried about was telling my long term partner, who I am still with, that I may not be able to have children in the future and may have difficulty conceiving. I love him so much and I could not take parenthood away from him, I was preparing myself for the worst, which was losing him, but giving him a better chance of being a father. I did not have to worry, as mentioned above, I am still with him, he has been so supportive and does not care I have more hair on my body. He wanted to help so much that he wrote his dissertation on PCOS at university, he got a first. I am so lucky that I have someone in my life that is so supportive.

How does PCOS affect me on a daily basis?

PCOS does not stop me in any way day to day, but it does cause me to have hirsutism (excessive hair growth) and insulin resistance. Those who have insulin resistance will have higher levels of insulin in their body to compensate for the resistance, this leads to an increased production of testosterone and affects ovulation. Those with fewer then 3-4 periods a year are at a higher risk of cancer of the womb lining, this is something I am keeping an eye on. Those with insulin resistance also have difficulty in concentrating, which is why, for those who know me, I have such a terrible memory. Those with PCOS can find their mood being low and having mood swings.


But you can just shave your hair.

I have been told this several times. This is the part friends have been the least understanding of at times. How can I be sad about something that I can remove so easily. Well the hair is dark and to me easily visible, it was difficult to take photos of it as the camera could not pick the hair up. I have grown it for this post. I get excessive body hair on my neck, thighs as well as around my mouth and stomach. To me it looks worse in real life then on the pictures, but I have included a couple. I would like to add that body hair is natural and some women have more hair then others and it may not be PCOS. I do not have confidence in my body and hence why I have only uploaded 2 pictures, but they have not been altered in any way apart from being cropped a little.


Conclusion

I did not want this post to be really long, I have cried while writing it and have deleted this several times. I am not a doctor but the information is how I have had PCOS described to me by doctors and other people who have PCOS. There is a lot of information on the NHS website regarding PCOS. I am also happy to answer any questions below. I wanted to increase awareness of PCOS as it is not spoken about enough considering 1 in 6 women have it. Please leave the comments below positive and informative, it took me a lot to click the publish button. Thank you for reading.

23 comments:

  1. Proud of you for posting this! I found it to be a really interesting read and I certainly know more about PCOS than I did before! Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you and glad it was informative! xx

      Delete
    2. No problem! Out of curiosity, why do you have to have lost your virginity to have the internal ultrasound? xx

      Delete
    3. Because well there is no easy way of saying it but it is basically a white dildo shaped piece of equipment they insert inside of you which was painful, then they move it around at different angles to look at your ovaries, which they won't do on a virgin due to them having their hymen without it being stretched. I can understand in some religions it is really important but I think it should be up to the patient. Not even every female is born with a hymen! Anyway sorry for the long answer! xx

      Delete
  2. Wow Laura, so proud of you for being so honest and open! So glad you have such a supportive boyfriend and the fact he showed an interest and dedication to learning more about something which affects you on a daily basis through his dissertation is really amazing! Xxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, I am so lucky! I wanted this to be as honest as possible! Thank you for reading xxxx

      Delete
  3. Well done lovely it must have been hard to write this - just because you have PCOS doesn't mean you aren't a beautiful human bean - don't let anyone tell you any different xxx

    skinniminibigheart.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was difficult! I cried and deleted this so many times, I am glad I got this out there! Thank you for reading :) xxx

      Delete
  4. Firstly, you have done awesome for writing about something which clearly you find quite upsetting and very personal to yourself!Ive had endometriosis since i was a young teenager and I had to get a scan to see if i had any visible growths on my ovaries but everything looked ok there- so I maybe understand slightly what it is like to deal with something like that which can effect your fertility which is quite scary...Jamie Oliver's wife has PCOS as does Victoria Beckham and i think Rochelle Humes from the saturdays has it too and they all have children..in my case Emma Bunton has endometriosis and she has kids too so I've always thought if she managed then there was hope for me if i wanted kids in the future...Your boyfriend sounds amazing-im so happy he has been supportive and even wrote his dissertation about PCOS...oh gosh i didn't realise about the risk of cancer of the womb lining-I take the pill continuously for 6 months without a break and then have a period as mine are so bad but that means i only have 2 periods a year...I have very dark,thick hair and mine grows back really quickly after shaving so i understand that it is not as easy as just shaving it all off-if it grows back within a day that means you would have to shave everyday & shaving your neck and torso is not a nice thing to be doing at all:(especially when it comes through as stubble...posting those photos was such a brave thing to do-you should feel like you can literally do anything now after sharing something so personal-its inspired me to maybe talk about more personal things on my blog & youtube which i have never talked about before:)...I just want you to know that you are awesome & so many of us love you!Please always try and remember that!sorry this was so long haha:)xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't apologise that the comment is long! The more I read into it, the more I find out other women have it too, so I feel less alone. My bf is amazing, I am really lucky! My hair grows back within a day and goes all stubbly too, especially on my stomach then it rubs on my clothes! I had no idea that you have something kinda similar, if you ever want to talk, please DM me on twitter or we can add each other elsewhere! Thank you so much for your comment, love you too! xxxx ♥

      Delete
  5. Wow you are very brave and strong to share this story and I am sure it's going to help a lot of other people who are going through the same thing and at least now you know what it is and can address it and deal with it the best you can. I had a heart defect diagnosis 3 years ago which totally rocked my world but I am coming to terms with it and living life to the full

    Laura x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you and I can understand the feeling of it rocking your world, but glad you are living life to the full! :) x

      Delete
  6. Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story/ So many women suffer with PCOS and are scared to speak out about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, it is scary due to a worry about how people will react to the weight gain and hair growth, but everyone has been so lovely! x

      Delete
  7. Props to you for talking about your experiences with PCOS. It's a lot more common than people realise. In fact I know a few women with the condition - one of which went on to have 2 children after being diagnosed. xx

    www.kirstytalks.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you and I do too, it is great to hear many women with it do go on to have healthy children :) xx

      Delete
  8. This is such a brave post to write Laura, well done! I'm glad you decided to post it, I found it very interesting and informative, you've definitely raised awareness! And you have an amazingly supportive boyfriend :) xxx

    www.pinkieprim.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I am glad too! He has been supportive in recent times, has meant a lot to me xxx

      Delete
  9. Thanks so much for posting this. I didn't know very much about PCOS, so this taught me a lot about it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Laura,

    I am very grateful that you did decide to share this post. I command you for having figured out that PCOS does not define your life, but that your personality does. And I can empathize that not every day is as chipper as the next, you are human and it is okay to not be okay sometimes. Thank you for having allowed me into your story! Warm hugs Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you :) *hugs* think we all have those days where things impacts us more for some reason, thank you for reading :) xx

      Delete