Friday, September 23, 2011

PCOS Awareness and My Story

September is PCOS Awareness month. Since I have been diagnosed with PCOS, and had no clue what is was before my diagnosis, I thought I would share it on my blog. Warning, things are going to get personal and probably TMI, so stop reading now if you are uneasy talking about womanly issues.

If you don't know what PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is, here is a description:

Often called the “Thief of Womanhood”, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects as many as 10% of women.  It can rob you of your fertility, cause irregular periods, lead to insulin resistance and obesity, as well as, depression. High levels of androgen hormones in women with PCOS can cause acne, excess facial and body hair growth and male-pattern hair loss. The long term risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers are higher if PCOS is left untreated. (source: PCOS Diva)

 I have always had many of the symptoms, but never knew there was a root cause. I have had to battle heavy periods, 60-90 day cycles, and  work very hard to maintain my weight due to the insulin resistance and a low thyroid. The insulin resistance affects my blood sugar when eating and also makes me have uncontrollable sugar and carb cravings...all.the.time. 

The worst side effect for me has been dealing with adult acne. The older I get, the worse it seems to be getting. The other thing that has been getting worse is my PMS symptoms. Jim could testify to my extreme moodiness and irritability that can last weeks due to my long cycles. Not fun for me or anyone that has to put up with me. 

I found out that I had PCOS after I started seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist when we decided to try for another child and found that we were having issues. 

It turns out that I do not ovulate...hence the very long cycles. My body will gear up to ovulate and then the follicles will turn into cysts instead of releasing an egg. The build up of these cysts in the ovaries can be pretty darn painful.

Some of the treatments for PCOS to reduce the symptoms include weight loss, low carb diets, Metformin (which has traditionally been used to treat diabetes), and birth control pills. Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS but these are things that can help with managing the symptoms. 

For myself, I have been through many, many rounds of oral medications to try and get my body to properly make mature follicles and then using a "trigger shot" to get the egg to release. Unfortunately, my body completely refuses to respond to oral stimulation medications.

The next step that I took was to give myself injections of Gonal-F. These injections of hormones do appear to be getting a better response from my body. Now we're at the point of trying to determine what dose works most effectively for my body. 

Being diagnosed with PCOS and infertility was heart breaking at first. I always imagined that I would have a handful of children. Now, I'm very thankful for Ethan and thankful for the team of specialists in Wichita that work with me and encourage me through the process of fertility treatments.

Alright...I warned you that it was going to get personal and TMI on here so no complaining. 


  1. Wow Tara, I'm so sorry that you've been going through this. It's great that you have wonderful physicians to guide you through this. I wish you the best in your fertility treatments and am triply impressed about how fantastic you look!