I recently attended an evening with Giovanna Fletcher where she spoke about her new book, Happy Mum, Happy Baby. It was here I learned of her struggle with PCOS and I couldn't relate more to what she was saying. It was such a relief to hear of another person who had gone through the same thing I had. So what is PCOS? PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome and despite the name, you do not actually have cysts on your ovaries. PCOS is actually a hormone imbalance whereby the body produces too much insulin and testosterone. That's my understanding of it anyway! After hearing of Giovanna's experience I wanted to share my PCOS Story:
I've always known I wanted to become a mum and if I could, I would have liked to have been younger than 24 when I did. However, age doesn't really matter because it is when you're in the right position to start a family that's important. I digress. Pete and I had been together for 2 years when we made the decision to become parents, so in January 2013, I came off the pill. That's when my problems started and my PCOS story begins.
After coming off the pill, I put on a bit of weight and my periods were really heavy and irregular. On the day of our engagement party, Mother Nature paid me a visit and after 2 months of no periods, she was back with a vengeance. Typical! I told my mum and she said my symptoms weren't normal and she expected I could have endometriosis so with that I went to see a doctor.
The doctor I saw was a bit uncertain but suggested PCOS to which my mum challenged as I wasn't displaying any of the typical symptoms such as, excessive weight gain, hair growth on my face, chest and bum and acne. He then went for a second opinion from a doctor who had specialised in that area who then backed him up. I was informed I would need blood tests to confirm this and they had to be done on certain days of my menstrual cycle. Therefore, I had to wait for another period to make an appearance which of course, one never. A second trip to the doctors resulted in me being given a pill to induce a period so the tests could be done.
By this time 9 months had passed, I still had no baby and no diagnosis. I felt defeated and betrayed by my own body. I would see baby announcements almost every day (or so it seemed) and would see newborn babies everywhere I looked. I was miserable. I so desperately wanted to become a mum and it was devastating. Eventually scans and blood tests confirmed I had PCOS and I was referred to a consultant who prescribed a horrible drug, Metformin. It's actually a drug given to diabetics as it controls insulin but it also helps balance hormones (I think, again that's my understanding of it). The side effects were horrendous, I was nauseous all the time and had no appetite but I kept at it. I started taking Metformin early November time and must have fallen pregnant instantly!
I remember on Christmas Eve, Pete had made himself a curry and the smell turned my stomach. I just put the nausea down to the medication and didn't give it a second though. It wasn't until I complained of having sore boobs to my mum that I then took a pregnancy test. Even then I still didn't think I could be pregnant. Due to it being late in the evening (around 10pm) the test was taking ages for anything to show up. I didn't even tell Pete I was taking a test! I went to bed with the pregnancy test on my bedside table, so the first thing I did when I woke up was check it. I almost died of shock when I saw two lines. I woke Pete up saying "I need another pregnancy test, I think I'm pregnant!" It was so exciting but I was so scared the test was a false positive. After all, how could I be pregnant when I hadn't had a period for months? Luckily, it only took us less than a year to get pregnant and there was talks of me going on another drug later on if the Metformin wasn't working for us.
My story has a happy ending and I even got pregnant with Henry naturally. Infertility is a bitch but there is light at the end of the tunnel if you do have PCOS. There was a time when I was so consumed with self-hatred and now I am blessed with 2 beautiful boys. PCOS isn't something you hear of very often as it doesn't seem to be talked about but it affects 1 in 10 women! It can be really distressing to hear you may not be able to conceive but there are so many success stories out there and I'm one of them. Modern science is a truly wonderful thing. If you are struggling, just know, there are others out there just like you. Find someone to talk to and don't suffer through it alone.