What The Hell is PCOS?!

Most of you are dying to know.  It’s not something that is talked about like it should be so I understand that a lot of people that I talk to about my infertility don’t know what PCOS stands for. “Kat, I don’t mean to sound ignorant but what is PCOS?” This question makes me smile honestly. I don’t think it’s ignorant at all to not know. I think it’s societies fault that woman have not been properly educated. I get it, infertility is scary. Terrifying. But it needs to be discussed so that women like me don’t feel alone. So what is pcos?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It is a hormone disorder causing enlarged ovaries will small cysts on the edges. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that affects one in 10 women of childbearing age. Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect their overall health and appearance. PCOS is also a common and treatable cause of infertility. Painful right? RIGHT. So what are the symptoms of PCOS?

Symptoms of PCOS:

abnormal menstruation,
absence of menstruation
heavy menstruation
irregular menstruation
short and light menstruation or spotting
obesity
overweight or weight gain
acne or oily skin
infertility,
depression
inappropriate male features
loss of scalp hair, or unwanted hair
What Causes PCOS? 
Unfortunately, the exact cause of PCOS is not known but there are several factors that doctors feel contribute to PCOS in women.
High testosterone levels:  This is why it is common for women with PCOS to have “male-traits” like unwanted hair, hair loss, and acne.
High insulin levels: Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, especially those who are overweight or obese, have unhealthy eating habits, do not get enough physical activity, and have a family history of diabetes.
How is PCOS Treated? 

There is no cure for PCOS, but you can manage the symptoms. You and your doctor will work on a treatment plan based on your symptoms, your plans for children, and your risk for long-term health problems. Many women will need a combination of treatments, including:

  • Weightloss – diet and exercise
  • Birth Control
  • Fertility Treatments

How does PCOS Affect My Fertility?

PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women. In fact, 1 in 10 women suffer from PCOS.  The hormone imbalance can cause a lack of ovulation which will keep the woman from being able to get pregnant. No egg no baby. It also means that the chance of miscarriage is higher in woman with this disease than it is for someone that is “normal.”

I could go into multiple posts on what PCOS is and how it’s different for everyone, but I think you would all get tired of reading. What’s important is that women become educated on not only this disease, but all of the issues that threaten a woman’s fertility. Yes, it’s scary and most people don’t want to talk about it, but your silence is doing more harm than good. Talk about it, and most importantly listen to your friends and family that want to talk. Be there for them.

Remember, if you are struggling with infertility, you are not broken. You are not worthless. You are a warrior.

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To learn more:
 https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome

I Didn’t Know What it Felt Like.

A year ago, I didn’t understand what it was like to struggle with infertility. Looking back now, I think I was even a little cynical.

My entire life I knew I wanted to be a mom. At two years old I was carrying around my baby dolls everywhere I went. At 7 I was playing house with my younger siblings and was the mom. At 14 I started babysitting. At 19 I started working at a daycare and at 22 I was a nanny. I loved the feeling I got when I took care of others. It felt right, natural even. Maybe that’s because I am the oldest of 6 children and taking care of kids has been a life long thing. Whatever the psychology is behind my desires to be a mom, it always felt what I was destined to do.

When Josh and I got married, we decided we would wait to have children. We were young and wanted to grow up a little before we decided to become parents. Although we decided to wait, my desire to be a mom never diminished. Lingering somewhere in my heart, there was a strong desire to hold a little bundle of joy in my arms that I could call mine.

I knew that infertility was considered “common.” I would read facebook posts, news articles, etc about infertility. I felt like every time I got on facebook, someone was struggling to have a child. I used to rattle off in my head what I thought was wrong with them or why they weren’t conceiving. After all, it’s pretty easy right?

Boy was I humbled.

Looking back now, I feel so much regret for ever thinking those things. I was naive and stupid. I didn’t know what it was like to truly want for a child, because although I have always wanted to be a mom I didn’t know what the sting of infertility felt like.

I didn’t know what it felt like to cry in the bathroom of the doctor’s office

I didn’t know what it felt like to take pregnancy test after pregnancy test and get a “negative” every time.

I didn’t know what it felt like to feel completely broken

I didn’t know what it felt like to be physically sick from fertility drugs

I didn’t know what it felt like to be angry for no reason

I didn’t know what it felt like to cry at pregnancy announcements

I didn’t know just how strong jealousy could be

I didn’t know how worthless infertility could make you feel

I didn’t know that the sound of a baby crying could make you cry because you wonder if you will ever hear that sound in your home

I didn’t know that so many women have all of these feelings hidden behind a humble smile. I learned that inside these women are broken hearts.

My infertility journey has not been as long as millions of women across the globe. I know that I do not fully comprehend what some are going through, but I do know how it feels to believe your dreams are crumbling right before your eyes.

As depressing as this post turned out to be, I’m actually okay. I don’t feel all of these things everyday, but I do feel them. However, I have found new meaning to the word “hope.”

I have watched my friends that have struggled have healthy pregnancies, adoptions, etc. Seeing the success makes me believe that it’s possible to live the life I have always felt destined to live. It makes the tears, anger, and pain seem worth it.

It also makes this picture very relate able and hilarious on a good day:

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No matter where you are on your journey with infertility, it’s okay to feel what you are feeling. It’s okay to be angry, to be sad, and to feel so jealous that you can’t even see straight. It’s okay to talk about what you are going through. Don’t let the negativity control your life and keep you from seeing the beauty that’s around. Don’t let your depression control your life and above all, hold on to hope.

 

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The Shame of Infertility

I’m usually an open book. I don’t shy away from talking about my depression, anxiety, eating disorder, and such. But this is different. I want to address something that is so often pushed under the rug. Something that I was so ashamed of.

Infertility

What is infertility? The definition of infertility is

 

“the inability to conceive children.” It also means “inability of land to sustain crops.”

 

OK I had to add the last part in because it made me laugh. And we need to be lighthearted when it comes to this subject.  I really debated whether I should post about this or not. I have been thinking about it since February. I was nervous about talking about this at all.  Then the thought hit me “isn’t that the whole point?” The whole reason I’m even writing this is because I was so frustrated at the shame, secrecy, and insecurities that come with infertility. So here I am jumping out of my comfort zone and talking about what so many women are embarrassed to talk about. My struggle with infertility.

I want to make a disclaimer before I begin.  My husband and I have not been trying since the day we got married. We haven’t been through rounds and rounds of treatment. But that doesn’t make my journey anymore painful or hard to talk about. Again, the whole reason behind this post.

How it all began….

Without getting into too much detail, I have always had issues with my cycle. Back in high school and through college I was having issues and was constantly visiting the doctor. Because I was a good little mormon girl and wasn’t sexually active, my doctors didn’t prescribe me any medications. They said that when I was ready to take birth control, my cycle would work itself out. Fast forward to 2012. My cycles started to REALLY get out of wack. To the point where I would go months without a sign of a period. I was pretty nervous and finally demanded birth control. The next year I got married and didn’t give my cycles a second thought. I took my pill every day and was perfectly fine and “normal.”

It’s no secret that Josh and I were very young when we got married. I was 21 and he was 24. We had no plans on having children for a very long time.  We wanted to wait AT LEAST 5 years. At the beginning of this year, we went out to dinner to discuss our goals for the New Year. We have done this since we first got married and I absolutely love this tradition. This year I was very nervous because I wanted to tell Josh that I felt like it was the right time to start a family. And it was only year 4 anyway.  To my utter surprise, he agreed. So you guessed it, I threw my pills and (and caution) to the wind!  I started reading EVERY book I could find on conceiving, what to eat when trying to conceive, literally every book. Seriously…come look at my bookshelf. I was reading “What to Expect Before You’re Expecting” *FANTASTIC book, I highly recommend it if you are actively trying to have a baby.* and I came across the section about fertility issues. I was reading about PCOS and out of nowhere had a strong sense of urgency to go see a doctor and have a “preconception” exam. My friends told me it wasn’t necessary, but something inside me felt sick. Call it God, call it the Universe, call it whatever but looking back I’m so glad I did. I went to my doctor and happily told her I was ready to “make a baby.” She laughed and asked me my history. IN GREAT DETAIL. As I started describing more and more of my medical history, she looked more and more concerned. She asked if I had ever been diagnosed with any reproductive issues. I said no. Long story short I did a ton of blood work. And went to see her again the next month. Mind you…by this time, it was February and aunt flo had not come to visit. I knew I was pregnant. I just knew it. I happily went and bought a pregnancy test and within two minutes it said “NOT PREGNANT” “Ok, there’s always next time.” I thought.

 

 

Wrong.

 

I went to see my doctor again and we chatted about my blood work. I don’t remember much from that appointment. All I really remember is words like “pcos, anovulatory, infertility drugs, too much testosterone, viable pregnancies.” I was so overwhelmed. I remember going home that day, shutting my door, and sobbing. Here I was, ready to have a baby and I was told it was going to be a challenge and that I would need help. WHAT?! I couldn’t even do what my body was made to do. I felt like a failure.  All I could think about for weeks was my doctor’s words ‘it’s not going to be easy. But I have a positive outlook.” What the hell was the supposed to mean? I over analyzed of course. I felt like I was just given the worst news of my life and my doctor had a “positive outlook”??? I didn’t understand, but more than anything I felt shame.

 

My family was so looking forward to us having a baby, but I knew it was going to take more time than I had anticipated. And that was crushing.

 

Here it is into June and I’m still going to the doctor and on different medications. I’m still not functioning the way I should be and it’s still a long road before things will start to look up but I knew that would be the case. My point in sharing this is that it isn’t shared enough. Women are so ashamed to talk about this. When I was diagnosed with Pcos, and finally decided to talk about it, I had countless friends and family members that came out of the woodworks with the same struggles. People confided in me about their fertility treatments, IVF, adoption, etc.  It was comforting to me to know I was not alone. I think what hurt the most was when people would ask me when I was going to start a family and I felt like I couldn’t talk about this issue. I would just say “When the time is right.” But I wanted to talk about my PCOS. I wanted to ask questions, I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone. I wanted to not feel like a failure.

 

Many of you may read this post and think “Geez she’s sharing a lot.” Or “I couldn’t make a post like that.” Well friends, that’s the problem. That’s the whole point! It isn’t talked about enough and there are women all over the world wondering what is wrong with them.  Did you know that 1 in 8 women have fertility issues? This is the reason I am talking about it. Because I didn’t know that it was so common. I had no idea what to think or do about my pcos. I felt like I had no support or community to turn to. But I was wrong.

 

If any of you are struggling, do not feel ashamed. You are not the problem.  Your disease is the problem. If you feel that you have an issue, listen to your gut. Go to the doctor. There is no shame in having the help of science. In fact, it’s a miracle in itself that women all around the world can now have science help them conceive a child. Or that there is even the option to adopt a child.

 

Sadly, the end of this post is not me announcing I’m pregnant. It’s me announcing that I am okay with the fact that it might take forever, or that I may never be able to bear my own biological child.  I’m announcing that I am 1 in 8 and that I am here for anyone that may be going through the same thing. Whether it be slight, worse, or just as bad…we as women should be there to support each other through the struggles of infertility. No, I haven’t been on my journey as long as a lot of women…but I am still on the journey and I am here for you. Let’s talk about it and let’s not be ashamed.



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