Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month
Being a woman your likes, dislikes and perspectives undoubtedly change over time—and, though we may not realize all the ways, so does our body. Understanding how the stages of your life affect you can help you understand how to adjust your wellness routine as you age. Likewise, it can help you appreciate what stays the same: the importance of caring for your body, mind and spirit throughout every moment of life’s journey. This was the reason why I opted to act and go for a wellness check-up after I had not had my menstrual cycle in 3 months.
I called up my friend Lwile and she recommended Dr. Wambui of Santé Reva clinic. I went in on a Tuesday morning and had all my vitals checked as well as blood samples taken to the lab for a couple of tests. The only results I got on this day were on my Weight, BMI and from this we could already tell that I wasn’t doing so well because my metabolic age was almost twice my current age. I had an honest conversation with Dr. Wambui around my lifestyle and she pointed out areas that I should work on.
I went back to collect the blood test results that showed I had some elevated liver enzymes and I was referred to go have an ultrasound to demystify the root cause. The findings were linked to high cholesterol & insulin resistance (when cells of the body don’t respond properly to the hormone insulin). I was then diagnosed with a hepatic steatosis, also known as Fatty liver, and put on flax seed oil (a food supplement high in omega 3, 6 & 9) to manage blood cholesterol levels for 3 months.
The ultrasound also showed that I had cysts in both my ovaries (multiple, small, fluid-filled sacs that grow inside the ovaries. These sacs are follicles, each one containing an immature egg that never matures enough to trigger ovulation). The good doctors at Santé Reva referred me to a Gynaecologist, Dr. Kagema, who later diagnosed me with PCOS. As a firm believer of naturally managing PCOS – use of health supplements, looking into what you eat as well as regular exercise (one cannot out supplement a bad diet) – he put me on Myoatom (Myo-Inositol, D-Chiro-Inositol, Chromium, Vitamin D3 Softgel Capsules) to take for 3 months together with the flax seed oil.
What is PCOS you ask?
PCOS is a serious genetic, hormone, metabolic and reproductive disorder that affects women and girls. It is the leading cause of female infertility and a precursor for other serious conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endometrial cancer.
PCOS Awareness Month is a federally designated event created by The National PCOS Association to increase awareness of, and education about PCOS among the general public, women, girls and healthcare professionals. The aim of PCOS Awareness Month is to help improve the lives of those affected by PCOS and to help them to overcome their symptoms as well as prevent and reduce their risks for life-threatening related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cancer.
PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries, the reproductive organs that produce estrogen and progesterone — hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle.
The ovaries also produce a small amount of male hormones called androgens. High levels of male hormones disrupt the menstrual cycle, so women with PCOS get fewer periods than usual – up to less than 8 cycles a year.
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) control ovulation. FSH stimulates the ovary to produce a follicle — a sac that contains an egg — and then LH triggers the ovary to release a mature egg.
The lack of ovulation alters levels of estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and LH. Estrogen and progesterone levels (Female Hormones) are lower than usual, while androgen (male Hormone) levels are higher than usual.
PCOS is a “syndrome,” or group of symptoms that affects the ovaries and ovulation. Some women start seeing symptoms around the time of their first period. Others only discover they have PCOS after they’ve gained a lot of weight or they’ve had trouble getting pregnant.
Let me explain what this meant for me. I have always had a regular cycle up until early this year when my cycle changed to 52 days and eventually to not showing up at all. I started to gain weigh easily especially around my stomach and I had acne. I’ve had insomnia & stress which sometimes can be horrible, I’d peg this to work not knowing that my body was calling out for my attention.
Looking back now, I know that the problem for me was not that health was the last thing on my mind, but I never did take time to listen to my body. I’m taking the time to learn and implement the lifestyle changes that eventually will save me. What I’m talking about here is diet, exercise, and stress management techniques specifically tailored to treating PCOS.
I have had to make a lot of changes in my diet the greatest being eliminating sugar, milk and wheat as PCOS is sensitive to gluten and lactose causing inflammation. I love my breakfast – white masala tea (my weakness) and pastries go down very well up until nausea checks in and you’re itching your entire body to the extent where your face begins to pulsate.
Not only am I learning first-hand how difficult it can be to overcome lifelong habits, even when we know they’re not good for us, but I’m also learning that transformative change is always possible no matter how bad things might seem to be going. Big change comes from hundreds of tiny steps and they all matter. It’s not easy, but it’s not super difficult either.
I have also come to learn that many doctors are not well-educated on PCOS management. I have had to read a lot and consult other women who have been through a similar journey and the thing that really gets me excited is seeing the exceptional results of these women and their ongoing successes. Such inspiration keeps me afloat.
A wise man once said that wisdom is the ability to learn from change. I have learnt from the changes in my body and one day I will overcome and tell a successful PCOS story.
I am 1 in 10.
I have PCOS, PCOS doesn’t have me.
- Healthline – https://www.healthline.com/health/polycystic-ovary-disease
- Healthline – https://www.healthline.com/health/fatty-liver
- PCOS Foundation – https://www.pcosfoundation.org/
- PCOS Nutrition Centre – https://www.pcosnutrition.com/facts/
- WomensHealth.gov – https://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html