I am definitely not a PCOS guru or expert but will share some of my findings.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition where estrogen and progesterone levels are unbalanced and sometimes includes high levels of insulin. If you have two out of the three main features of PCOS, you are most likely to be diagnosed.
- Ovaries do not regularly release eggs (ovulating)
- Cysts develop on your ovaries – hence the name polycystic ovaries
- High levels of androgens in your body
According to the NHS, one in five women in the UK have PCOS but many do not suffer with any symptoms as I described in my previous post. The symptoms include
- Irregular periods
- Thinning hair or hair loss from your head
- Oily skin or acne
- Excessive body hair growth
- Difficulty in getting pregnant due to lack of ovulation
- Weight gain
- Pelvic pain
- Anxiety or depression
The cause of PCOS is unknown but, it has been said that genetics play a part and you are most likely to develop the condition if your mother or sister has it also. As I mentioned previously, I was made to feel that PCOS was almost normal. I was not put on any medication and told that my body would eventually regulate itself. Now, for some people, that may have been the case but, for me, it was and still is a struggle.
I must have been around 17 or so when I kept pressing my GP about the fact that I was still not getting a period every month. He suggested I go on the pill to regulate it but in the world I lived in, it was almost like a free pass to be tempted with pre-marital sex – something I’ll discuss later. I said no and just hoped that it would begin to come every month. It didn’t. I finally gave in and went back to my GP and was put on Cerezatte which helped and I finally became relieved that I was getting a period monthly. The only problem was the spots that came along with it. My GP changed my prescription to Marvelon and then to Microgynon which finally helped. The stomach aches were still there, as with the weight gain but I was just so happy that I was finally getting a monthly cycle.
At age 20, after collapsing at uni, I sat in the consultant’s office where the blow was delivered…. “You may not be able to have children, if you do, you may find it difficult.” I was frozen. “Nothing to worry about, most people with PCOS go on to live normal, healthy lives and have many children but, I want you to be aware of the possibilities” the only possibility I knew was of the promises God had shown me of my children! For years, this weighed heavily on my heart but was always reminded that God’s report is final.
I recognise that every individual is different and I’m still on my journey to finding the perfect solution to managing PCOS. I have a few suggestions that have worked and ones that only worked for a short period. Feel free to share your success stories and more
Exercise- I went through a period of exercising regularly but never seemed to shift any weight. Did wonders for my energy levels and productivity but, I just could seem to lose anything. I’m currently doing 100 star jumps per day and plan on taking another chance at joining a gym – hopefully it works. It’s not that I’m overweight, I would just like to drop a dress size
Food- major area for me- especially as I’m from an African background! I ensure my meals are 60% veg and cutting out white rice, white bread and white potatoes. Instead, I use wholemeal bread, brown or jasmine rice and sweet potatoes. No more pork, a lot more fish, chicken and lean mince.
In 2010, I cut out majority of dairy products but I have to admit that I just can’t get over cheese! I Love cheese and I think that’s one food in the dairy family that I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to just yet. I obviously eat it in moderation and it’s not frequent. For milk, I usually use Almond Milk for cereal and Lactose free for my tea as I’m addicted to tea and cannot use anything else as it doesn’t taste nice (just my opinion). Both have great tastes and you don’t really feel like you’re missing the normal milk. I have also read that drinking skimmed milk can also help to ensure your body does not react to the sugars in dairy and create a hike in our insulin levels seeing as our levels are already have higher than normal.
So where do I get my calcium from? Broccoli, red kidney beans, kale, okra, celery, parsnips, seafood, sesame seeds, almonds. Other sources of calcium that I personally do not like are – cabbage, petit pois, horseradish, watercress, collard greens, Edame, Figs, sardines and so much more. I’m currently reading ‘The Ultimate PCOS Handbook’ by Colette Harris & Theresa Cheung and will probably give a review once I’ve finished.
Fluids- My daily challenge is 1.5 litres of water but I’m aiming to get it to 2 litres per day by the end of April. It’s so important to drink plenty of water to flush out any toxins, keep you hydrated, boost your immune system and help prevent those cramps that are so common with PCOS. Why not join me on the 2 litre a day challenge? I’ve noticed that using 500ml bottles of water does not make you feel like you’re about to consume an ocean. I know how I feel whenever I stare at a 2 litre bottle of water – terrified. I just think “how am I going to do this? It doesn’t taste nice and I still need to get my tea in also.” The 500ml bottles is so much more manageable – Imagine, only 4 bottles and that’s your target done! So, let’s agree to 1 bottle between the hours of 9am-10am, 12-1pm, 4pm-5pm, 7pm-9pm. See how spaced out that is?
There are many books and websites available for more on PCOS and how to manage it, so if anyone has any recommendations, lets all share so we can grow and learn together!
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