As a woman who has been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I can tell you that I have realized some valuable lessons about health and becoming an advocate for myself. I hope that I can share some of the wisdom I’ve learned with you as you embark on your own journey to wellness.
My PCOS Journey
Hi, I’m Kelly Keating, founder of PCOS Living. My PCOS story might be similar to yours, in that it took forever for doctors to take me seriously and to figure out what was going on with my body. More times than I can count, I wanted to give up the fight because I felt like I was spinning my wheels with health providers. You can feel so alone and belittled; it takes a real toll on you mentally. I stuck it out and my persistence and trust in myself led to my diagnosis and the answers I needed. Sadly, my story is not the exception, on average, in my experience I have found it takes two years and three different doctors to get diagnosed with PCOS. Below, I share some of the lessons I learned through my PCOS diagnosis and journey.
Lesson #1: PCOS Looks Different on Everyone
Through my own research, experience, and discussions with other women, I have recognized that PCOS looks different on every woman. In fact, even the name is misleading, since I have learned that having cysts is not essential to a PCOS diagnosis. I have found that PCOS can present as irregular periods, difficulty getting pregnant because of absent or irregular ovulation, insulin resistance, weight gain, acne, hair loss, or excess hair growth. Each symptom brings its own set of challenges. With such varying symptoms it is obvious why my diagnosis, like many, was so tricky.
Lesson #2: Follow Your Gut
I have learned to follow my gut, and to trust myself and become my own advocate. I knew that something was wrong, and I kept pursuing answers until I got them. You know your body better than anyone else and it’s important to listen to it. Don't give up on getting the help you need. Don’t just accept that your symptoms are nothing to worry about or are just what happens to women as we age. This is a bunch of BS. If I had quit and just accepted that “everything is normal” who knows where I would be today.
I learned to stand up for myself; if I didn’t like what a doctor had to say, I changed doctors! I sought one who wants to be on the same team, listens to me, and takes my concerns seriously. It might take some time to find a doctor who you gel with, but it will be well worth it. Your health should be something you fight for, especially as women, you don’t want something to get overlooked, PCOS or otherwise. Make your voice heard; it could save your life.
Lesson #3: Do Your Own Research
When it comes to treatment, I learned you have to do your own research. I personally found that many doctors were quick to prescribe the birth control pill as a fix-all. Sadly, in my experience, the pill only masks symptoms. I learned that if you stop using it, those symptoms will come back rearing their ugly heads, sometimes worse than before. As someone who took the pill for over a decade, it didn’t cure my PCOS. In all honesty, I wished I’d known more before being on it for so long. To be successful in managing my PCOS symptoms, I had to fix the underlying cause.
Lesson #4: Ignore The Naysayers
Finally, I learned to ignore the naysayers! Once diagnosed, I was told that I would not be able to have children naturally and would most likely need fertility treatments to get pregnant. It felt like an insult to injury but I never let it deter me. Now, I am proud to say that I am a Mom to two beautiful children both of which I conceived naturally. I found it’s important not to lose hope, and that once you figure out what the problem is, then you can remedy it. In most cases, it is not impossible.
PCOS does not have to define you. Yes, PCOS can be a drag, but it doesn’t have to be who you are. You are still the same kick-ass woman and you can choose to take control of your health or let it control you. The choice is always yours.
Kelly Keating is the founder of PCOS Living. Her path to a PCOS diagnosis and frustrations with her ability to find smart, researched, and practical information about her condition drove her to start her site. PCOS Living is dedicated to providing vital knowledge for women on the topics of health, nutrition, fitness, and living an empowered life! Kelly is certified in natural holistic remedies and believes in sharing her knowledge to help women conquer their PCOS with natural treatments like she did. Join her community where the goal is to help you find resources, support, and motivation to live your best life and explore your health as a whole, not the sum of your parts. Follow PCOS Living on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.