Apparently, I have PCOS.
I discovered this in 2016 during a routine trip to the GP. This is what I wrote just after my visit to the doctor…
I recently went on my annual outing to the GP to receive my ongoing prescription of the contraceptive pill.
Now, I’m aware that there are many women who don’t get on with it and have experienced terrible side-effects and I am hugely sympathetic towards them. My personal experience has been very different and I’m fortunate that the pill has never been anything but a positive for me.
Initially I took the pill to try and help my terrible acne as well as regulate my periods and it did exactly that.
Whilst I no longer have acne (it took until my mid-late twenties), I continue to take it so that my monthly cycle remains just that. Monthly. As opposed to completely irregular.
So, for me, the pill is a good thing and most of the time, one I give very little thought to.
So imagine my surprise when this most recent trip involved the Dr questioning me about my family history of diabetes (none) before agreeing to the repeat prescription.
She was concerned that I’d put on 2kgs (approx. 4.5lbs) in the past year and given that I’m overweight anyway, diabetes is more prevalent in women with PCOS, hence the question.
Wait, what?! But I don’t have PCOS??!!
Let’s back up. 15 years ago, in 2002, I’d done enough research to suspect I *may* have PCOS.
I had always found it hard to lose weight and even when I’d try dieting alongside my mum, she would always lose 2-3 times the amount I did and before you ask, no, I never cheated.
Once, as a young teenager, I went on a calorie-controlled diet under the supervision of the local nurse.
I did not cheat, I followed the rules meticulously. (I was firmly in the role of ‘good girl’ growing up; it’s only once I became an adult that I started questioning the rules and refusing to play the game.)
Each week the nurse weighed me in the GP Practice and one week I lost a staggering… 0.25lbs.
This was announced in her best talking voice so that everyone could hear and I remember there was a young couple who sniggered.
Cue my face turning beet-red.
I protested my innocence explaining I’d stuck to the rules but the nurse didn’t believe me.
It won’t surprise you to learn that I didn’t go back.
Anyway, I asked to be tested for PCOS (I was 23 at the time).
I had an ultrasound and blood tests and it was discovered that I had follicles on my ovaries but that the ovaries themselves were of a normal size and not enlarged.
My testosterone levels were bordering on high but not overly so and the end result was that the doctor told me that whilst I had indictors of PCOS, none of them were conclusive enough to warrant that as a positive diagnosis.
So that was that.
Fast forward to 2016 and I’m having an unexpected conversation about my risk of Type II diabetes because of my PCOS diagnosis.
Naturally I enquired along the lines of, ‘What diagnosis? I distinctly remember being told my results were not sufficiently bad enough for them to be given a label’.
Or words to that effect.
I explained I’d been for tests but was subsequently told I didn’t have it. “Seems they decided you did”, was the response.
I don’t even know where to begin. 14 years and a chance conversation that could have just as easily never happened.
It may not sound like much but the implications could have been huge.
What if I had wanted children? It’s quite possible I would have encountered fertility issues and I guess at that point I would have discovered the diagnosis and addressed it.
But surely it would have been better to know AT THE TIME OF DIAGNOSIS?
I’m lucky – it’s a diagnosis that hasn’t resulted in my experiencing unnecessary trauma or confusion. But luck shouldn’t really come into it.
I’m grateful for this piece of luck because what it has done is validate my long-held inkling that my endocrine system isn’t ‘quite tickety-boo’.
It somewhat explains the anecdotal evidence of which foods serve me better than others.
It’s reignited my interest in things like my sugar consumption, insulin resistance, candida and associated symptoms as well as the small, niggling issues that I should ignore at my peril.
You know the kind – blocks of ice where my feet should be, nails that bend more easily than my knees do, thinning hair, bruises that could be mistaken for body art based on their longevity.
Nothing life-threatening but all too easily taken for granted and accepted as ‘the norm’.
Except that it probably isn’t. And it’s not as though the ‘cure’ is unknown.
Good sleep, clean diet, decent relaxation and plenty of healthful exercise – I know all this as well as you do.
Except I’m pretty rubbish at it.
So I’m going to have a go at trying to rectify my unhelpful habits and behaviours. I’ll take my time to plan it out, what my approach is and what my hopes and expectations are. There will be no ‘right or wrong’ and nothing resembling ‘failure’.
Just incremental steps to leading a healthier lifestyle to enable me to do the things I want to being the most energetic, focused and balanced version of me I can be.
There will be lots of curiosity and experimentation in a thoroughly unscientific way as I try and figure out what makes my mind and body work in the best possible way for me.
It’s probably what lots of other people call ‘living’.
All because of a routine trip to the Dr and a chance conversation.
It’s so often the little things that lead to the biggest change, it’s just whether you’re willing to go down the rabbit hole and see where it leads.
So there we have it. 8 months later and I’ve had time to reflect on this experience properly.
And my overwhelming conclusion is this – I know my body better than anyone else and I’m more invested in my health than anyone else.
Your health is something you can’t buy.
Nor can you return it and ask for a refund. Be it something big or something small, if you think there could be a problem, keep searching until you get an answer that makes sense to you.
Because you really do owe it to yourself to do so.
I know this because it’s the lesson my PCOS diagnosis has taught me.