When it comes to my health, I tend to be a very secretive person. I may cancel classes for a bad cold or flu but my larger health issues are often kept hidden unless I really hit rock bottom. As mentioned in a previous post, I have been struggling with PCOS-related infertility for a couple of years now. This condition is something that I would not talk to anyone about, even when asked about when my husband and I would be having children. The answer was always something along the lines of “Oh, someday” or “once we pay off this or that”. Only recently had I started to be honest with people about the struggles.
Although I goofed off when I first started college, I always had a clear plan for my life. I would finish college, and then graduate school (every career I had in mind at the time required at least a master’s degree). I would finish my bachelor’s degree before getting married so that I would never regret not getting an education because I knew I would likely not do so after getting married, no matter who I married. I would wait until after graduate school to have children. Well, if I chose to have children, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted them at the time.
Despite some academic difficulties, I finished my bachelor’s degree, got married, and then worked towards my graduate degree. By the time I finished the degree, I found the want to have children had started to kick in but just wasn’t strong enough to really think seriously about it. At the time, my husband and I were still living with my parents and started looking for somewhere of our own. We knew that this was something we wanted before we had children to fill it, versus working in reverse. I graduated with my master’s degree and we closed on a house a month and a half later. After he was more established in his job and I was able to be added to his health insurance (I was uninsured and had been for a while due to not being able to afford it and not being offered coverage through my job). After this, we thought it the best time to begin considering having children. We knew how many we each wanted and knew we were in the right time in our own lives to take this next step.
For a bit of personal background, I had always been one of those girls who had trouble during her cycles. They had always been almost excruciating. But, since I was not trying to have children, my primary care doctors never did anything more than tell me to take a Midol and use a heating pad or take a hot shower. When I was about 20, they thought to put be on birth control pills to try to regulate things. That helped for a while but I went off of them because I didn’t like the headaches that I got with them, and I didn’t want to be on them for too long. When I got married and didn’t yet want to start a family, I was put on the lowest dose pulls there were at the time. Although I was on those for a few years, I was still miserable as the psychological side-effects were worse than my cycles were without them (period mood swings had nothing on me…).
When I told my GYN doctor that my husband and I wanted to start trying for children, she gave me a prescription for three months worth of the pills (to match up with our timetable) and told me to just fill that or even just stop taking them at the end of any pill cycle. I filled the prescription and stopped taking them at the end of the three months. I had been told that it may take a few months for anything to happen but that it shouldn’t take long. When I skipped a cycle a few months later, I thought it had happened. I had grown inpatient because it had been about a year already (granted, I had been gone for most of that summer, so we had at least three cycles that we had missed). Home pregnancy tests weren’t giving a clear yes or no so I went into my new doctor (my other one had retired so I needed to switch).
At first, I had been told that I was pregnant (information hadn’t been accurately relayed between the nurse and doctor) but their tests were doing the same thing. No clear results. Then, they decided to run more tests. This is when my PCOS was diagnosed. I knew a few people with the condition but still didn’t really know what it was. To put it quite simply, the ovaries don’t work correctly. Cysts just build up on the ovaries and don’t really go anywhere. The woman also sometimes doesn’t ovulate often if at all. Periods are painful if even present. As insulin-resistance is often a factor, the woman can also have weight-issues (I had gained 20 pounds for no reason in a matter of months, but had thought it was because of birth control pills, despite being off of them for almost a year). My insulin levels were fine but many of my other symptoms matched.
I have to really be careful what I eat or drink (sugars and alcohols do not help at all, nor does too much soy or other “healthier” alternatives). I work out at the gym at least three days a week now but still have trouble taking weight off (I had lost some weight, as mentioned in my previous post) but can’t seem to take any more off. It is a constant struggle, to the point where my monthly mood swings often bring frustration and depression as well. But, after sharing an article via Facebook and finally outing myself about having the condition, I also found some mental relief. I found that many people I know have had similar struggles and have found ways to work through it (most of them have at least one child now).
Although I would love it if I could just wave a magic wand and have all of my ailments fixed, finding some support has meant so much more. My husband and family are wonderful but I also have some great friends. Those who have gone through it have shared their stories and other friends are always there to make sure I am alright and to reassure me. I couldn’t really ask for more as it makes it clear that I am really not in any of this alone.
This article is not mine but gives some great insight.