Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Getting A PCOS Diagnosis

I thought I would chat for a while on here about polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and the process I had to go through to get diagnosed. It is still something that irritates me and something I felt that needed to be shared. You should always have your concerns taken seriously since you are the best person to spot differences or irregularities in your body!

Symptoms I have experienced

Ever since I had my first period, I have had symptoms of PCOS which I either overlooked or believed were completely normal. Most of them can be completely normal, but the extent of them and the amount of them were an indication of PCOS and my hormone imbalances.

Heavy and irregular periods
Am I comfortable talking about this on here? Totally. I used to be so ashamed of my periods and experienced a lot of anxiety surrounding them. Even when they have been regular, my periods have always been pretty intense. The amount of blood leaving my body every month was alarming and I was having to literally go to the bathroom hourly to change my super tampon (something I wasn't yet comfortable with having to do in the school/college bathrooms). The cramps were also a force to be reckoned with. I would double over, clutch my abdomen, squirm around in my seat and pop painkillers like they were sweets. I figured they were normal since we were warned that everyone has cramps in sex ed, but what I didn't know was that everyone experiences these things very differently. My period irregularities come and go, which is irregular in itself, but there have been many times where I have been getting my periods every other week which I hope never happens again but know it probably will.

Hair, hair and more hair
Oh dear, this has also been a big thing that I've had to work on in terms of confidence and anxiety. I remember a time in primary school where I was told that my super hairy legs were gross and that I had a moustache growing on my face. I was horrified and immediately went to the bathroom to cry. A moustache? No way! My peach fuzz is pretty thick. My upper lip can get pretty hairy. I get thick hairs on my chin. My body hair can grow very thick. It took me a long while to dispel the myths about women shaving their face, but I do in fact shave my face now. It's not completely necessary and I don't feel like I need to shave it all the time, but it does boost my confidence and it makes my skin feel super soft which is a massive bonus. However, the hair on my head tends to act the opposite. It's constantly shedding and I definitely feel that it's so much thinner than it used to be. When I vacuum my carpet I'm shook by the amount of hair that's fallen out of my head and my hairbrush gets full of hair so quickly. It's a bit grim but not the end of the world.

Skin probs
Most people get oily skin and spots. My skin is very very oily and although I have become good at taking care of my skin and managing breakouts, it used to get me down a lot! I also used to get a lot of spots on my back and that meant that I felt very uncomfortable in any shirt that didn't cover my whole back and shoulders. The main thing that still bugs me is how oily my skin is but it's manageable now!

My mind
Depression, anxiety and mood swings have been something which I have been dealing with for years and years and years, and it wasn't until I started talking to my current GP that I realised that these are also associated with PCOS. I bounce from extremely down and depressed to incredibly energetic and upbeat without a moment's notice. Often the depressive episodes can stick and I'll be incredibly down for weeks. I'm working on it!

My weight
My baseline weight has always been pretty heavy. When I'm on the healthiest of kicks I will not lose weight at all and it can get frustrating and upsetting. It's taken me a while but I'm good with my body shape now, but it does still bum me out sometimes. So much of my body fat is on my lower belly and I call it my PCOS pouch, I'm beginning to think it's kinda cute.

Diagnosis attempt #1

When I was in high school, I went to my GP about my period problems. They were so painful that I was finding it hard to attend school and the amount of blood made me incredibly anxious. I was prescribed tranexamic acid and mefenamic acid for my periods and these did help massively, but I wanted to know why my periods were this grim. I did some research and asked my GP about PCOS. He got me to lay on the bench-y thing (you know, the bed thing in a GP office) and pressed around on my tummy before telling me he didn't feel any cysts so I didn't have PCOS. I kind of accepted this at the time but that was actually bullshit and you cannot feel anything to do with PCOS just from pressing on your tummy.

Diagnosis attempt #2

I was already regularly seeing my current GP due to my mental health when my periods started to come every other week. It was grim and I felt like they were getting worse and worse. I brought it up to my GP and I also mentioned the thoughts I had about PCOS in the past. He told me that my past GP was wrong about claiming how to diagnose PCOS and he got me booked in for an ultrasound and a blood test. I didn't know what to expect when going in for the ultrasound but it was pretty uncomfortable. I was told to go with a full bladder so I was bursting for the loo while the ultrasound thingy was being prodded onto my abdomen. My tummy also made some funky noises in the silent room and I wanted to get out asap. According to the blood test, my hormones are a bit muddled (including high testosterone) and the ultrasound confirmed that I have PCOS.

Well, the more you know...

I wasn't surprised to be told I have PCOS so it didn't affect me as much as it maybe could have. It made a lot of sense to me and it was quite comforting to know that my suspicions over the years were right and I wasn't just overthinking my symptoms. It's good to know that when a symptom is acting up I can say why it's happening and what's causing the trouble. I switched my birth control to a combined pill which help to regulate my periods and some of the hormonal stuff and I began to treat myself less harshly about my weight and mood swings. It's led to a lot of acceptance for me. A year on and I feel better and more accepting in myself than ever.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common condition which affects ovarian functioning. The main features are irregular periods, excess androgen and polycystic ovaries. Symptoms include irregular periods, lack of periods, fertility issues, excessive hair growth, thinning hair of the head, weight gain and oily skin/acne. If you feel that you are experiencing these symptoms, you can read more about them HERE. I have asked two different doctors about my symptoms and only one of them actually moved along to the process of diagnosis, so ask questions and make sure your symptoms are taken seriously. Diagnosis of PCOS is often quick and simple and involves an ultrasound in order to take a look at your ovaries. If you have any questions about PCOS at all, feel free to get in contact! 

No comments:

Post a comment

Follow Me @jessistryingblog