PCOS Has Ruined My Life

I’ve never been one for ‘new year, new me.’ Maybe because as a child, I used to spend a lot of new years with my best friend, whose parents always allowed her to have sleepovers at her house for NYE, while they went out. A gaggle of us tweens would raid my friends parents alcohol cupboard (I think the idea was that they deliberately turned a blind eye, rather than just didn’t notice-I went there for NYE every year for 6 years and they never mentioned it,) and we’d sit, and make lists of our new years resolutions, most of which contained stuff like ‘get X to notice me,’ ‘get X to snog me,’ ‘find out if skirt trousers are going to be on trend for another year, and if so, get them in every colour known to man.’ (I’d love to know if skirt trousers were a thing across the country, or just the backward town that I lived in? This was around 1997-answers, or even better, pictures, on a post card please!

So, inevitably, X wouldn’t notice us, we wouldn’t become supermodels, and skirt trousers thankfully crawled back into whichever hole they crawled out of. They would be left as material to become immortalised on buzzfeed lists of the most hideous fashion mistakes the nineties gave us, and photographic evidence of them destroyed (although I’ve never seen them on such lists, which again reiterates my question above?) That was what initially made me realise that new years lists were a waste of time (although to be fair, those tween lists didn’t really contain high brow realistic content…) But, growing older and more mature, I did try to make targets and goals for new year, but they’d inevitably go up in a cloud of smoke and broken dreams at some point, so I just stopped doing them, to save myself the feeling of failure.

Now here lies the point to this post-this year, I have set myself a goal. It’s a goal that will take a lot of time, a lot of patience, and may even take me into next year to even get it established. But I haven’t felt such determination to achieve something in a really long time.

I’ve written before that I have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome.) I’ve known about this since I was 15, when I was sent for a scan following persistent abdominal pain, and irregular and heavy periods. I took the diagnosis with a pinch of salt, because none of the things the GP was telling me could affect me, affected me at the time-weight gain (I was a normal weight,) excessive hair (hadn’t noticed anything along those lines,) infertility (I remember being unnerved by this one, because I knew I wanted a family at some point in the very far away future, but I was young enough that I just put it to the back of my mind.) And as you are aware, I have two little monsters that I conceived with no problems, so this didn’t end up affecting me either.

But-there is a massive but here, (which rivals the size of mine.) Since I’ve had the children, my PCOS has worsened, and I am now what would be referred to as a classic PCOS sufferer. Overweight (yes, by quite a bit.) Excessive hair (bikini line home to undiscovered forest tribes that nobody knew existed? I’m your woman.) I’m just so glad that I was what’s known as a ‘mild sufferer’ of the condition so that at least I’ve got my children, and don’t have to go through the devastating infertility that hits a lot of PCOS sufferers.

The thing is, with PCOS, there is still very little known about its causes, and how to treat it. I had one ludicrous thought one day, ‘well, I’ve got children, I’ll just have my ovaries removed, then I won’t have it anymore.’ But research told me that others had been there, and done that, and were still no better for it. PCOS is a whole multi-system endocrine/metabolic dysfunction, not just limited to cysts on the ovaries. From what I can gather, most PCOS sufferers are insulin resistant (I am, I’ve had this confirmed by the GP.) Put simply, this is where cells in the body don’t respond to insulin in transporting glucose from the bloodstream, into tissues. The body produces more insulin because it thinks that there isn’t enough, sending blood sugars soaring, and leading to weight gain. The weight gain worsens the hormonal imbalance that causes the hairiness (or hirsutism, if you want to proper name,) and other defining PCOS factors. But when you have insulin resistance, losing weight can be difficult to impossible. Thus a very frustrating cycle commences.

I’ve become obsessed with my PCOS. I’ve fallen victim to one of my own cardinal sins-googling the shit out of it. Don’t google the shit out of stuff-it will drive you fucking bonkers. The thing is, I want success stories. But the forums, and the PCOS support sites have very, VERY few of these. But, on a recent foray into throwing myself into an abyss of depressing information, I actually came across some success stories. A lot of people you find on the forums make very bold statements like ‘PCOS has ruined my life!’ I always thought that it was a bit of a defeatist and dramatic thing to say. But lately, I’ve been thinking back to the depressing post I wrote at the start of last year, and I’m still the person avoiding social events because of the way I look. I’m still looking at pretty old clothes of mine, and wishing I could wear something other than loose clothing. I hate having to check parts of my body every day for hair, where there shouldn’t be hair. I hate the impact the way I feel and look has taken a toll on my marriage and friendships. I won’t say that PCOS has ruined my life, but it’s certainly made the quality of it one heck of a lot poorer.

So this year, I am on a mission. I am going to be a success story. I am going to be one of the few who reverses insulin resistance (which, with careful nutrition, I’ve been told can be done,) and takes back control of their life. I am going to break the cycle of weight gain/increased resistance to insulin/further hormonal imbalance/increased inability to get my weight back to normal again-the normal I had known all my life until pregnancy made me insulin resistant.

By writing it down, I feel like I’ve totally put my money where my mouth is-but I think it will be a great motivator. Over the next year, there will be a new section on my blog called ‘Cysters Are Doing It For Themselves,’ where I will talking about nutrition, progress, what works and what doesn’t, and at the end of it, there bloody WILL be a success story, because I am not going to be a prisoner to this any longer! Being an overweight, neanderthal resembling, social avoider, is not fun, and I’m looking forward to saying ‘naff off,’ to that person.

62 Comments

  1. January 8, 2017 / 9:47 pm

    Great post. Horrible thing. also have polysistic ovaries and suffered greatly as a teenager. I thought it had gone away when I had my first baby but since my third it’s back with a vengeance. The hair bit is really annoying! Well done for finding out how to tackle the issues you’re having in relation to it. I will be following with interest. Loving the name for the blog section too 😂

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 6:48 am

      I’m glad you like it…!! It’s a very strange condition isn’t it? I’ve had to see so many people to get any kind of understanding of it!! It seems that pregnancy makes it a lot worse… I hope you enjoy following this, fingers crossed we can both learn something!!!!

  2. Mary Kelly
    January 8, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    Hi, have you looked into LCHF? Cut out sugar and starchy foods and not only will it have a positive impact on PCOS but you will lose weight too. Insulin production is driven by carbs so to reduce insulin you need to switch your energy from glucose to ketones. I have been eating this way for 2 years now and maintained the 32kg weight loss and have not been back to my doctors in that time. A friend’s daughter who tried for 8 years to get pregnant and failed due to PCOS became pregnant within 2 months of starting LCHF (which I realise was not an issue with you as people are affected in different ways). But your article shows how deeply insulin resistance/PCOS has affected you and as you are looking at diet this could be one option? It doesn’t take long to show effects and you could follow various levels of LCHF – liberal, moderate, strict or ketogenic – I stay with ketogenic LCHF as I find this works best for me.

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 6:51 am

      Hi Mary! Thanks for the info-it’s brilliant to hear more PCOS success stories-there really are very few!! I have been to see a dietician, and she has talked me through the advice on sugar and carbs! So this is something I’m planning on talking about in this section of my blog in further detail very soon!

  3. January 9, 2017 / 8:09 am

    Oh lovey! I’m sorry you’re suffering so badly. For what it’s worth, I didn’t notice any of the things you mentioned when we met up…..obviously not the bikini line aspect #weird 😃 But I think if you are avoiding social situations because of the way you look, there is no hope for any of us, you’re beautiful and just as lovely on the inside. LOVE the series name! 😊 #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 8:43 am

      Thank you Lou, you are very kind!! Yes, can you imagine if I’d met you at the station, and the first thing I said was ‘hey Lou, look at my overgrown lady garden-it’s down to my knees!!!’ That would’ve been #defweird!!!!!! I’m determining need to crack it this year though!!!!!

  4. January 9, 2017 / 8:49 am

    Live the positive outlook, it’s the only way to beat it. Good luck with your journey xx

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 8:52 am

      Thank you!! I’m interested to see where it will take me!!

  5. January 9, 2017 / 9:06 am

    So sorry you are suffering from this my love, however, I really admire your determination to beat this. I’m sure you will. #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 10:03 am

      I have everything crossed!! I’m hoping determination alone might do it?!

  6. January 9, 2017 / 9:47 am

    This is a great post and you’re very brave to write about it all. It must be hugely tough for you but you’ve clearly got a brilliant attitude, Cyster! And I reckon you notice the physical side effects much more than anyone else would. Best of luck with it, I am looking forward to reading about your successes in the coming year. xx #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 10:05 am

      Thank you!! Now I’ve put it out there, I think that will be the best motivator to keep going!!

  7. January 9, 2017 / 9:49 am

    I really admire your courage and determination Lucy. You totally deserve to focus on yourself now so wishing you all the luck with kicking PCOS’s sorry ass. Xx

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 10:07 am

      It’s definitely true that part of the reason it’s gotten so out of control, is that I’ve totally ignored myself for the last 4 years… So I am definitely putting myself first now!!!! The kids can sort themselves out!! X

  8. January 9, 2017 / 9:55 am

    This is really interesting as I’ve heard so much about PCOS but when you don’t have it it’s something you actually know very little about. Good luck for this year 🙂 #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 10:09 am

      It’s true, that it’s very misunderstood. It’s only since I’ve been on a mission to get on top of it, that I fully understood that it’s a huge series of things going wrong, rather than just ‘a few cysts on your ovaries.’

      How is the baby? I hope you’re both doing well!! Xx

  9. January 9, 2017 / 11:41 am

    Such a fantastic and empowering post. I am really sorry to hear that you are suffering from PCOS but it is fantastic that you are determined to grab control of it. Good luck my lovely #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 5:53 pm

      Thanks a lot Emma!!

  10. Baby Anon
    January 9, 2017 / 11:57 am

    I read this when it came into my inbox last night and thought it was such an honest and open and moving post. I had never really understood the condition and what a challenge it can be. I think your attitude is amazing and I am sure you will achieve everything you set out to #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 5:54 pm

      Thanks so much! It’s such a poorly understood condition, that even I knew very little about it until it affected me to the point of needing help!

  11. January 9, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    yes one of my friends suffers this, she has quite bad hair growth around her chin an neck and I know how self conscious she can be. I am sorry you are suffering, but your drive and determination is awesome! #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 5:56 pm

      Thanks Mac!! It can make you so self conscious, such an unwanted side effect-especially for a woman!

  12. January 9, 2017 / 12:38 pm

    I’m sorry to hear you’re sufffering but I bloody love your attitude! You can do it. I have no experience of it so I can’t offer any advice but you ideas sound great and I love the name of the feature!

    #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 5:57 pm

      Thanks, it made me chuckle!! And I’m really passionate about it, and can’t wait to update it (with hopefully positive information!!)

  13. January 9, 2017 / 1:27 pm

    Lucy it sounds like you have suffered enough and it is great that you are determined to find new ways to combat the symptoms. My husband is a type 2 diabetic so has similar insulin issues and has found the best way to manage his weight and thus his insulin is with a low GI diet – it maybe a good option for you?? I will be cheering you on from the blog sidelines! Good luck. #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 5:58 pm

      Thanks so much for the lovely comment! Yes, low GI is going to be my main focus!! Expect posts about the serious lack of sugar and carbs in my life!!

  14. January 9, 2017 / 1:34 pm

    Loving the positivity of this – PCOS can be so upsetting for many reasons (I was diagnosed after a scan but thankfully I only have it mildly and was able to conceive). I remember reading ‘PCOS For Dummies’ which was actually very helpful and informative but all I could think of at the time was ‘Noooooo I can’t eat sugar or starchy carbs??? ‘ the one thing PCOS sufferers crave the most !!! Weirdly after my 2nd child my periods returned with an almost normal cycle (instead of 3-4 a year!) and I definitely feel as if my hormones have settled a bit too. Best of luck with your mission and the new blog section, I look forward to reading it. x #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 5:59 pm

      Yes, I’ve heard that others periods have become more regular after having babies! It seems you go one way or the other!! I’ll seek out that book-thanks for the recommendation!! X

  15. January 9, 2017 / 1:40 pm

    Brilliant! Good for you lovely, I think you are marvellous for taking it all by the horns and seeking out change! I have a good friend who suffers with PCOS so shall be reading your new series and passing along the info to her. You can do it, set the goal and get to it. Xx #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 6:00 pm

      Thank you!! I really do hope that I can produce something that will help others!!

  16. January 9, 2017 / 2:12 pm

    Oh honey I’m so sorry to hear that you are suffering now. It isn’t a condition I know anything much about, and I naively thought that the issues were pretty much all around fertility. I didn’t realise that it can have such a day to day impact on your life even post children. I salute you for tackling both the condition and the challenge of blogging about it and I am convinced that your work will be a massive inspiration and source of support for other sufferers. Thank you for letting me learn a bit more about it too and thank you for hosting #bigpinklink. xx

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 6:02 pm

      Thank you for the lovely comment!! It is a massively misunderstood condition, and I’ve drowned myself in research, and still don’t know as much as I’d like!! I feel a bit wary that I’m now doing this ‘in the public eye,’ but I am determined for it to be a success!! X

  17. January 9, 2017 / 3:05 pm

    Good for you. I’m sure if you set your mind to it you can do it. I look forward to reading more posts about how you are getting on #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 6:03 pm

      Thanks! I will be posting regularly!!

  18. January 9, 2017 / 3:21 pm

    oh no…not the google!

    I fall victim to googling the shit our of everything.

    #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 6:03 pm

      Must… stop… googling… the… shit… out… of… stuff…!!

  19. January 9, 2017 / 4:27 pm

    PCOS is an incredibly frustrating and painful thing to deal/live with. Wishing you all the best in your quest to understand it more and deal with it! Love your attitude towards it! I’m fortunate enough that mine has lessened since having kids. I couldn’t imagine having to deal with it now. x #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 6:04 pm

      It does seem to go one way or the other, and you are right-it is incredibly frustrating!!

  20. January 9, 2017 / 6:15 pm

    Great post and an honest one. As a fellow sufferer I know all these feelings too well. Weight and nutrition seem to be the key for me, but like you say weight control can be a catch 22 with hormones contributing to the gain in the first place. I read a great book years ago when diagnosed and low GI foods are the way to go, cut the sugar, starchy carbs and lower caffeine. I’ve dipped in and out of these habits over the years, but have been very strict over the last 6 months, exercise too and all I know is my symptoms have improved greatly, so fingers crossed fertility does too. I really hope you find a balance this year and keep positive there is hope.

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 7:30 pm

      The catch 22 circle of easy gain/incredibly difficult loss, is just the worst isn’t it? My aim is definitely to go low GI-I’m cutting out sugar/alcohol (boooooo!) and carbs. I’m sorry that your fertility is affected-wishing you the best of luck with that xx

  21. January 9, 2017 / 7:38 pm

    Passed link onto a friend who will find this very informative. Thank you! #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 9, 2017 / 8:34 pm

      Thank you, I hope she finds something relatable! X

  22. January 9, 2017 / 8:05 pm

    Go girl! You are taking control! This is such a great way to start the year, all the best, and I know it won’t be easy. But re the skirt trousers… I had totally forgotten about them, but they definitely were a fashion nasty of the nineties. The reason they don’t make it onto Buzzfeed lists is the people who write Buzzfeed lists aren’t old enough to actually remember the nineties. But I think your second missision for 2017 should be to make the world remember the horror of skirt trousers before Kendal et al make the same mistake again. #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 11, 2017 / 8:37 am

      Ha!! Brilliant comment! Right, a national campaign to prevent the return of skirt trousers it is!! And I totally forgot that buzzfeed only employ people born after 2000…!!

  23. January 9, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    I didn’t know much about PCOS until I read this, I’m sorry that this is something that you are having to battle. I’m terrible to googling things too much too, it almost always ends badly, it’s not a good thing to do!

    #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 11, 2017 / 8:38 am

      I know!! Google is one of my worst enemies!!

  24. January 9, 2017 / 8:43 pm

    I have PCOS and I think you and I have the same body. I’ve also got the hair loss and infertility – PCOS is a bitch! Exercise has been the thing for me hence the running, it’s the one thing that has really worked of course as watching what I eat. My GP recommended the 5:2 diet to try and break the insulin resistance cycle. But I aint gonna let the PCOS bitch beat me!

    • This Mum's Life
      January 11, 2017 / 8:40 am

      *waves and high fives a fellow sufferer* crap isn’t it? I’ve let it get me down for the last 4 years, the last thing the GP said to me was that I needed to ‘work on acceptance.’ Well no, I won’t be doing that!! I’ll have a look at the 5:2 diet-did it work well for you? X

  25. January 9, 2017 / 10:31 pm

    Ohhh, I am sorry to hear that PCOS has been in your life for so long. I don’t really know much about it, but it seems like you are taking a massive step forwards to making a difference to your condition. Writing things down does really help in committing you to a cause. Good luck for your journey. #BigPinkLink x

    • This Mum's Life
      January 11, 2017 / 8:41 am

      Thanks Annette, writing about it has definitely made a difference!!

  26. Topfivemum
    January 9, 2017 / 11:13 pm

    Oh my goodness, the trouble those old ovaries give us women! From period pains, to PCOS, endomitriosis, difficulty with fertility…you name it. Someone didn’t wire us up very well did they? It sounds like a tough one to deal with and I hope you do manage to find some treatments that help you this year. You clearly can’t go on as you are.

    I have a dilemma of my own with my ovaries. I know I’ve got a faulty BRCA2 gene (like Angelina Jolie, but she has BRCA1) so it puts me at a very high risk of breast and ovarian cancer. After finding a lump in my boob after my first MRI scan a few years ago, I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction. Now I’ve “completed my family” (in theory…although nothing makes you question if you’re truly done than having a label on you) my doctors want to meet up to discuss removing my ovaries. I’m at least going to go and see them this year to find out more, but part of me just thinks I’d like to leave good enough alone. Knowledge is power though, as they say, so I’m going to go with an open mind. #bigpinklink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 11, 2017 / 8:44 am

      Oh my goodness, what a huge step… and circumstances can change can’t they, and situations can change where you do end up wanting another baby. It’s great that you’re at least going to talk it through-I hope you get the best support to make the right decision for you. And yes, female wiring does seem to be quite faulty… x

  27. January 9, 2017 / 11:23 pm

    Oh Lucy. I bloody love the way you ended this post. I want to reach through the screen and hug you. I wish you THE best of luck and will be cheering you on. What a great title by the way; Cysters…Themselves!! This will sound shockingly drastic but I wonder if going vegan (I know I just blasphemed, forgive me Father) would help? #bigpinklink
    PS skirt trousers. THANKS for reminding me.

    • This Mum's Life
      January 11, 2017 / 8:47 am

      Aaah thanks Prabs-virtual hug accepted with thanks!! I am actually fully considering veganism! I’ve read loads of books about plant based diets, and it makes a lot of sense! The only thing is, there’s no way the husband would do it, and I often cook separate meals for the boys, so I’d have to cook 4 different meals, which would be a big commitment!! But I’d definitely like to try it!

  28. January 10, 2017 / 8:10 am

    Well bloody good for you my dear what an amazing post. I am so sorry to hear of all the side effects and in particular the affect it is having on you and you feel. But amazing attitude to changing it and I wish you nothing but the very very best and look forward to reading your journey. #bigpinklink xx

    • This Mum's Life
      January 11, 2017 / 8:48 am

      Thanks Sarah! I’m glad you liked the post, and thanks for the support!

  29. January 10, 2017 / 9:10 am

    Ah Lucy, well done for trying turn it around! It is such a nasty condition it can be so hard to find the positive. Good luck with it all, I can’t wait to read about your progress and how you take control!
    #BigPinkLink

    • This Mum's Life
      January 11, 2017 / 8:49 am

      Thanks Kirsty!! I’m really looking to writing about the progress!!

  30. January 24, 2017 / 10:58 am

    Love this. I also have PCOS and am insulin-resistant…in fact, our stories could be of one and the same person! I’m trying to get a handle on it so that I can get pregnant again, because although I’ve had one child it’s proving incredibly difficult with the second. It’s incredibly demoralising though when even sniffing the wrong food can make me put on at least 7lbs. Good luck, and I’m looking forward to reading more…hopefully you’ll inspire me!

    • This Mum's Life
      January 24, 2017 / 12:20 pm

      Hi Halina, I’m sorry that you’re going through this too-it’s a difficult battle, and one that’s very misunderstood! I know exactly what you mean about sniffing carbs and feeling the weight pile on-I can spend weeks killing myself to lose 7lbs, but put it back on in one day by eating carb/high GI foods. It’s hard when people say ‘eat less, exercise more,’ because that just doesn’t work for people with insulin resistance. My GP told me I must be lying to myself about what I was eating-which is another common response-I knew I wasn’t. But there are loads of foods you wouldn’t suspect, that make insulin resistance worse, and it’s my mission to eliminate them all from my diet, and be a success story! If you are trying to conceive, has your GP prescribed metformin? It’s commonly used for women with PCOS who are trying to get pregnant, although success with it is varied. It did nothing for me, but I know for some women, they’ve quickly lost 10-14lbs very quickly with it. Good luck, I do hope I can turn this into an inspiration! X

      • January 27, 2017 / 1:52 pm

        Yep, that’s exactly it – you eat “a balanced diet”, lose a few lbs (eventually), then whack it all back on and more in less than 2 days. Awful, isn’t it? My parents always used to come down on me to do the whole “eat less move more” thing but I can work out every single day and lose nothing.

        I was on metformin last year and it did zip. Apart from give me a horrendous stomach, of course! It definitely didn’t help me lose any weight. Such a shame, really. Currently awaiting tests to get booked in at the fertility clinic to see if I’ll need Clomid… *le sigh*

        Which are the foods you’ve found that you wouldn’t have suspected? That was awful English, wasn’t it? Hope you got my drift… x

        • This Mum's Life
          January 27, 2017 / 2:22 pm

          Metformin did the same to me, it was awful… I’m currently taking Metabolic Synergy, which was recommended by a dietician. It’s really flipping expensive, but I am losing weight (veeery slowly,) and there’s no side effects. I’ve just this second posted a new post about new foods I’ve now eliminated from my diet-I didn’t realise even things like butternut squash and peas could spike your blood sugars… it’s definitely a minefield. I hope you can find some answers about your fertility soon xx