Motherhood, Pregnancy + PCOS

Are you aware that September is National PCOS Awareness Month?Do you even know what PCOS is? I sure didn’t until a good friend of mine was diagnosed and shared her story! It has been years since she was diagnosed and she is still learning about it every day! One of her biggest struggles with PCOS finally reacted to the “chill pill” and let her finally have her miracle! Want to learn more about Amanda and her life with PCOS… or read about the journey of getting her miracle? Scroll down and open your heart for her!

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Amanda.  I am 35 years old.  My husband’s name is Robert.  We have a beautiful 2 year old girl named Ivey.

What is PCOS?

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a hormonal disorder.  The name can be deceiving because you don’t actually have ovarian cysts.  That’s a different problem.  It’s common among women of reproductive age.  The hormones affected are Insulin, Progesterone, and Androgens.  Androgens are “male hormones”.  Usually there are higher levels in women with PCOS.  Insulin, as most people know, is the hormone that regulates blood sugar.  A PCOS body doesn’t respond to insulin the same way as a “normal” body.   Because of that, people with PCOS are more likely to get Type 2 Diabetes.  The lack of Progesterone contributes to irregular periods and infertility.

What causes it?

From my understanding, the cause is unknown.  It’s considered a hormonal problem.  Anything can contribute to a hormonal problem…Genetics, environment, things we eat, you name it.

Is there a cure?

There is no cure for PCOS.  But, with diet, exercise, and some vitamins and supplements, you can maintain or lessen the effects of it.  There are also some medications available to help level out the hormones.

How old were you when you were diagnosed?

I was 28 when I was finally diagnosed.  Symptoms of PCOS can start shortly after puberty.  That was the case for me.  I was 16 and hadn’t started my menstrual cycle.   My mother took me to the gynecologist.  Their answer was to put me on birth control.  Obviously, I started my period shortly after that.  I was on birth control for 11 years when I was told by another doctor that my body had never ovulated without the help of the synthetic hormones in the birth control.  In 2008, I stopped taking BC and let my body do what it was going to do naturally.  My periods were sporadic.  I would have one every couple of months.  There was no rhyme or reason to my cycles.  In 2011, I started going to a GREAT OB/GYN who did hormonal lab work.  After getting the results and seeing my hormone levels, he sent me to get a sonogram of my ovaries.  The results showed my ovaries were enlarged.  He diagnosed me with PCOS.  He explained that the enlarged ovaries are due to microscopic cysts within the fibers of my ovaries.  Those were caused by the Androgens and my irregular periods from the lack of Progesterone.

What does your average day with it look like?

My days are like a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions.  I’m tired.  So tired.  Fatigue is a symptom.  There are days I have pain that feels like period cramping.  Some days its severe…some days not so much.  It’s hard to lose weight.  I battle with depression and anxiety some days.  Some days I don’t.  All of it can come and go throughout the day.  One minute I’m fine…smiling and laughing.  The next minute, my mood plummets and I am hit with sharp pains in my pelvis.  There have been several times over the past decades a sharp pain has literally made me lose my breath and almost hit the ground.

What would you say to another mom/female that has it?

I feel your pain.  If you are trying to get pregnant, don’t lose hope.  There are things that can be done to assist you in conceiving.  If you are pregnant or a mother already, GOOD FOR YOU AND CONGRATULATIONS!!  You did it!  Also, if you suffer with PCOS, do a little research on it.  The research may answer a lot of questions you didn’t know you had.  It certainly did for me.  There is an AWESOME website,  It is the website for the PCOS Awareness Association.  It has helped me educate myself.  Also, the resources, blogs, events calendar, and connections on the site are amazing.  It will help you realize you are not alone.  You are one of more than 10 million women who are afflicted.  

What would you say to someone that doesn’t?

Feel blessed, because you are.  PCOS is a stressful disorder.  Also, it’s so hard when someone asks, “when are you going to have babies?”, or “when are you going to have another one?”.  I got to a point where my answer became, ”when God lets me” or “when God says its time”.  I got a lot of funny looks, but hey…that statement, to me, explains that I have issues beyond my control that have kept me from getting pregnant, or may keep me from getting pregnant again.  

How long did you try before getting pregnant?

I tried for about 5 years.  My husband and I decided in 2010 we wanted to start trying for a baby.  I started tracking my cycles and tried to track my ovulation.  It was nerve racking and very stressful.  As time went on and a year had past, I knew something wasn’t right.  That’s when I started going to an OB/GYN my sister had had an awesome experience with.  I first saw a doctor who said “oh, you want to get pregnant and can’t?  Here is the first step for fertility help” and gave me progesterone pills to take at a certain time in my cycle.  That did nothing.  I went back to the doctor’s office and requested to see Dr. Parker, who specializes in high risk pregnancy and deliveries.  He sent me for the lab work and sonogram and diagnosed me with PCOS.  He explained that he was going to prescribe me Glucophage (or Metformin).  It is a medication usually given to diabetics to help the production of, and maintain the levels of insulin in the body.  I started taking the meds towards the end of 2011.  There were ups and downs to the meds.  I dropped weight fast.  But it gave me diarrhea.  I had to make sure I really upped my intake of water.  My cycles evened out.  They were between 33 and 38 days long usually.  I kept a stock of pregnancy tests and took one whenever my period was later than the 38th day…which happened often. 3 years.  3 years I took the medication before that one morning, I took my pregnancy test just because I was late…and that second line showed up.  I’ll never forget that morning.  It was one of the best days of my life.  The emotional turmoil and physical discomfort from taking the meds paid off.  

Will this be what you have to do every time you plan to get pregnant?

Most likely, yes.  I was 32 when I had my baby girl.  I took the meds through the first trimester.  There are pregnancy risks associated with PCOS.  There is a higher miscarriage rate.  Women with PCOS also have a higher rate for gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, preterm birth, and C-section delivery.  For the most part, my pregnancy was a breeze.  I didn’t get gestational diabetes, though I was borderline.  I didn’t get preeclampsia, and Ivey was just over a week late.  However, there were delivery complications and I ended up having a C-section delivery. I got my period back 9 months after having Ivey.  It was on time every month for 2 years.  I kept track out of habit.  PCOS was all but forgotten.  Until a few months ago.  My periods started getting further and further apart.  The PMS got worse and worse.  I was having more pelvic pain.  I was fighting depression to the point I was researching psychiatrists.  I felt like I was going crazy.  I figured the irregularity of my periods was from the PCOS.  But, I didn’t realize everything else I was feeling physically and emotionally was most likely because of PCOS as well.  Not until I started doing a little research to answer the questions for this blog…then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I had forgotten what it felt like because it had been so long since my body did its natural thing.  I was on meds, then I got pregnant, then the after-pregnancy hormones and breastfeeding.  I had forgotten.  It also hit me that if I wanted to get pregnant again, I will most likely have to take the metformin again.  If it works out like it did last time, I’ll be on it for 3 years before I have results.  In 3 years I’ll be on my way to 39.  I’d be on my way to 40 when I would potentially have another kid.  After several discussions with my husband, and many, many crying sessions, we have decided not to try anymore.  We believe it will just be too much physically for me.  We will not prevent, but we will not try.  So, if God decides we need another one, He’ll step in and take the wheel.  But in the meantime, we’ll be a wonderfully happy family of 3 with our miracle baby girl.  

Anything else you would like to add?

Be aware of the PCOS symptoms. The main one is irregular of missed periods.  Others are weight gain, fatigue, unwanted hair growth (which I thankfully don’t have), thinning hair on the head, and infertility, Acne, Mood Changes, Pelvic Pain, Headaches, and Sleep problems.  There are also many things women with PCOS have a higher risk of: diabetes, and heart disease and stroke.  It is also linked to high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Sleep Apnea, and Bloating.   Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the above.  Also, check out the PCOS Awareness Association website.  It can help you in so many ways, from understanding the disorder, to finding cookbooks geared towards meals that help lessen the effects of it.  There is a large support network out there.  You are not alone.  And just remember…never give up hope.  You’ll be ok.   Amanda! Thank you so much for taking time out your day to share your story and to give hope to all the women around you wearing the same shoes you did when you were 16, when you started trying for a baby and every day in between! Your words are going to open up the eyes to world and hopefully bring more awareness to PCOS! Can you relate? Do you have anything you’d share about PCOS? Comment below!
Until next time XO! ]]>

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