After graduating from college in June of 2015, I was excited to get away and start adulting (not really). But nevertheless it was the start of a new chapter and I was all for it! Two weeks after graduating, I moved to Denver, Colorado for a new job, and life after college couldn’t have started out any better. Not too long after moving to Denver, I started noticing some drastic changes in my body. I was always tired and my hair started falling out in large chunks. I’ve always experienced fatigue and hairloss in the form of shedding, so I thought more sleep and a deep conditioner would do the trick. As time passed I grew even more tired, and my hair kept falling out. What really pushed me over the edge was the fact that I gained a whopping 40 pounds in less than 6 months, without any change in diet or physical activity.
Thanks to my extensive medical training (binge watching Grey’s Anatomy & House), I finally decided to visit with a gynecologist. After meeting with her, she suggested a series of blood test and an ultrasound which confirmed what looked to be like a number of cysts surrounding my ovaries (one of the many PCOS symptoms). At the time I didn’t know what to think or what this all meant? But boy was I about to find out. As the title to this post suggest, I was diagnosed with (PCOS) Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS is a condition in which a woman of child bearing age experiences a set of symptoms due to hormonal imbalances. Symptoms vary from person to person, but most often include irregular periods, excess body hair, weight gain, infertility, male patterned balding and pelvic pain. If left untreated, PCOS can lead to associated conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cervical cancer. In addition to being diagnosed with PCOS, my doctor informed me I was prediabetic and immediately put me on Metformin. Metformin is used to treat type 2 diabetes, but it is also used to treat PCOS patients dealing with insulin resistance, as this can eventually lead to diabetes.
When I found out I had PCOS, infertility was the first thing that popped into my head. I’ve always wanted children, and now there was a chance that I couldn’t have any. I started to question all the decisions I made in my 23 years on this planet. Did I do something wrong? Could I have prevented this? And at the end of the day, the answers really didn’t matter. All that mattered was how I was going to move forward. For the next couple of weeks I spent most of my time researching PCOS and reading the stories of other women dealing with it. According to Womens Health, PCOS affects between 5% to 10% of women of child bearing age (14-44), however, it is one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose. In fact, it took me three visits to my primary physician until I was referred to my now gynecologist.
Although PCOS has been a major thorn in my side, I have taken the necessary steps to manage my symptoms and get back to being that optimistic young college graduate. I was a bit hesitant to share my story publicly, but saw it as an opportunity to raise awareness for such a common disease. Please visit the PCOS Awareness Association website to learn more.