This is going to be another somewhat “icky” post, involving medical stuff. You have all now been fairly warned. I’ll also apologize for somewhat of a “downer” post off-the-bat.
Been going to various doctors’ appointments lately (which is so very, very irritating when you’re trying to fit it in between classes and work!) to find out what the heck is up with my irregular temperatures, general cycle irregularity, fatigue, and painful cramps. This has included labwork, ultrasounds (which, it turns out, when you tell people you’re going to have one, they assume it’s pregnancy-related), and multiple consultations with doctors and has generally been a bit of a pain. But after dealing with this crap for 12 years, I decided it was time to get some answers, and get an answer I did.
Turns out, I’ve got PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome. It means instead of ovulating on a regular schedule, sometimes my ovaries’ follicles develop cysts instead of maturing and releasing eggs. Comes with a slew of “side effects” and symptoms which vary in nature and severity from woman to woman. There’s quite a lot of info available elsewhere on the internet if you want to have a gander at it- I’m not going to go over everything, because not everyone gets all the pieces and not everyone gets their pieces in the same proportions, and only certain ones pertain to me.
Now for me, the tipoff came mostly in my cycles. We knew it had to be something hormonal (or at least affecting the function of my hormones) from the low and scattered basal temperatures, which points generally to either thyroid or ovarian issues. But in combination with my irregular cycles and their heaviness/painfulness when they did come around, some mucus-related symptoms, and mention of having cholesterol issues, the doctor wanted to test for PCOS as well, since those are generally diagnosable signs (though irregular cycles can also be a side effect of thyroid issues). So I had labs done for both, and an ultrasound to check out the ovaries.
It’s not something life-threatening, though it does occasionally carry with it decreased insulin sensitivity and tendency towards higher cholesterol (which may be exacerbated by certain formulations of birth control- the one I was on included), and it means it’s going to be harder for me to get pregnant when we start having kids, because of the irregular ovulation.
Which is why I’m discussing it here- normally, medical stuff doesn’t really fall into the realm of domestic adventures. But since this affects now our plans for a family and what I’m eating (since nutrition can play a big role in managing both the side effects and ovulation regularity), it is going to be a factor.
Honestly, I’m moderately annoyed that no one thought to test for it earlier, since I’ve been complaining about the cycle stuff since I started at 10. But I’m not all that concerned about it; it’s just something that’s going to need to be managed. Starting with more careful monitoring of diet and a better commitment to regular exercise. From my lab results, the biggest issues that I need to be wary of (and, luckily, the only real side effects I seem to be exhibiting) are the cholesterol and the insulin stuff. Which is great, relatively speaking. The cholesterol has already been going down since I came off the birth control, and the insulin (right now) is simply a warning to proceed with caution; I don’t have any pre-diabetic signs just yet, but the long-term forcast indicates that if I don’t keep tabs on it, I may be at risk in the future, and considering my family history, I’m going to want to watch it. If I’d known earlier, I could have started younger and developed the habits better rather than trying to tack them on as an adult. It also explains so much of so many things I’ve been struggling with for years (the periods, the weight issues, stubborn acne into my 20’s, even the excessive sweating)…it just would have been nice to know.
But the trouble getting pregnant thing…that’s where it really starts to hurt. I mean, I’m glad I know now, before we’re actually trying, because if I didn’t, I would have been wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn’t do it, and I would have begun to despair if it was really a struggle. Because I want children more than I let on, and I’m hoping and praying that when it comes time, I’m able and my body is as willing as the rest of me. Honestly, it’s making us rethink our plans for when we start trying, because we don’t want to waste any chance we have, but we also know that walking that line of what we can afford to take on time and money-wise is tight right now and will be for a while yet. It means we need a more solid, executable plan than before with our “Oh, maybe in like, a couple years or something” we’ve been going off of.
As much as that is the part that will weigh heavily on me, it is also the part that strengthens the resolve to make the changes I need and make sure I’m managing everything the best I can. Pop is going to be the first thing to go.
It helps to know it’s not a rare condition. Many women have it- and many have it and don’t even know, because it’s not commonly even considered for diagnosis, since a lot of women assume their cycles are just weird and that’s the way the dice rolled, or they get on birth control and don’t even notice until they attempt to have kids. Sometimes not even then, since coming off birth control can sometimes cause an initial spike in fertility, and since they might get pregnant soon after, they don’t even know. It’s also great comfort to remember that the doctor said, from looking at my labs and the ultrasounds, that there’s no reason to believe that I will have trouble maintaining a pregnancy once one occurs. When I was first reading about it, the fear of miscarriage (which plagues many women with PCOS) had me panicking. I just don’t know how I would cope if I had to deal with that. Hearing about them is enough to drive me to tears, even when I don’t know the people involved…and I am very, very thankful that I don’t have to hate my ovaries for threatening me with it.
- Posted in: Personal health