I have been very open about my health struggles, one being PCOS(Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). PCOS is an endocrine and metabolic disorder that affects the body well beyond the ovaries. It cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be managed. I randomly saw a TikTok video in 2021 describing PCOS symptoms; at the time, I couldn’t understand how all my blood work came out normal, but I didn’t physically feel right. Most of the day, I had no energy; I was losing my hair, but I was gaining facial and body hair everywhere, which was unusual. My periods were heavy even on an IUD, and my acne started returning after Accutane, which I had just finished six months ago. I began to notice that I had a very swollen and bloated midsection. I mentioned in a previous blog post that I had gained 55lbs in four years; however, I have struggled to lose weight regardless of dieting, working out, and increasing cardio. For anyone that knows me knows that I’m really committed when it comes to being fit. This was different. I ended up hiring a personal trainer who is also a certified nutritionist; without her, I wouldn’t have gone to check out my hormone levels.
I would consider myself a hypochondriac, and I prioritize my health, so whenever I have a weird symptom, I am not a stranger to making a video or in-person appointment with my doctor. But my personal trainer had said that all women that worked with her needed to get their hormone levels checked because the majority of the women had some kind of underlying health issues that they were unaware of. When I got my labs done, I found out that I had very high levels of testosterone and slim to no progesterone, which was part of the reason why I felt like I was in menopause (not to be dramatic), but that’s exactly how I felt. Additionally, I started to notice that I started to have underarm pigmentation and also in my bikini area and found out that it came from having high testosterone levels.
I was referred to see an endocrinologist who was very educated and experienced with patients with PCOS and endometriosis. I would like to disclose that prior to seeing the endocrinologist, I had seen a gynecologist who had misdiagnosed me for not having PCOS and had said that my ovaries had normal cysts but were not PCOS-related. I just want to call this out for anyone who thinks that they may have the same symptoms as me; I highly suggest that you see an endocrinologist rather than an OBGYN who is specifically specialized in this field and are highly trained.
I was prescribed ozempic, which is prescribed to those that are diabetic; however, I’m not diabetic, but I was very close to being pre-diabetic. The medication helps with suppressing your appetite, but it doesn’t help with all of the other symptoms besides lowering testosterone levels. Since taking the medication, my hair is nearly back to normal, and the hair on my face and body has diminished. I did a lot of research and found that eating a high protein and fat diet is the best for those suffering from this disorder. Unfortunately, it is not sustainable, but making these lifestyle changes can go for a long run and overall make you feel less bloated and have more energy.
The reason why I decided to go this route was that I was at my heaviest, and I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. What really scared me was knowing that I was so close to being pre-diabetic, and my doctor had said that if I were to try to start a family now, unfortunately, I would miscarry because I have no progesterone or other hormones to keep a baby alive.
One of the main issues with PCOS is infertility, and that is something that I’m very conscious of. I’m happy that I started this healthier lifestyle change to better the future of myself and my future kids. I hope to start a family within the next two years, and I want to be able to have a safe and healthy pregnancy and be able to carry more than one child.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with the same issue, I suggest that you get referred to an endocrinologist or see a holistic/naturopathic and have them run all these other labs. I resorted to Premier Alternative Labs, which I highly recommend. I got my labs done at my nearest LabCorp and had a specialist call me and thoroughly explain my results.