PCOS – My Diagnosis that Came Out of the Blue

A few of you guessed it! Yesterday’s WIAW post was missing sugar and grains.

Now before I get into why, I just want to take a minute to ensure that I am not promoting this type of diet. I am eating this way – temporarily (the zero part) and do not think that everyone should eliminate grains and/or sugar from their diet.

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That said, ready to get up close and personal? Here goes…

I’ve alluded on the blog that I’ve been dealing with some health issues, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come out and share it. It just felt so personal…I was so confused, and honestly a little embarrassed. But after talking with some of my blog friends and how some of them have shared some personal medical issues with their readers, I saw through a perspective of sharing what I am going through, and maybe connecting with anyone else out there who is experiencing/has experienced a similar situation.

I got the diagnosis for PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) about a month ago, and to say I was shocked would be an understatement.  Actually, I was in denial – wait, but I don’t have the symptoms for PCOS! My hair isn’t falling out! I don’t have access body hair! I’m not obese!

But…my periods are irregular and apparently the blood work doesn’t lie. All you need are two of the symptoms, according to my OBGYN. So I began to accept it.

I got the diagnosis about a month ago, but wanted to wait to write about it until I had more information, a game plan, and a better overall understanding of PCOS. 

A little backstory:

Early in the summer, I experienced some irregularity with my cycles. They’d always been longer than the normal 28 day average – around 35 days – but they had started to become even longer…40 and 50 days.

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I became worried with the second long cycle, and booked an appointment with my OBGYN, thinking it might somehow be a thyroid issue, or even related to my recent transition to working full time as a trainer/gym manager. Was I over exercising  unbeknownst to me since I was in the gym so much more?

So I went into the office for blood work to test my thyroid levels. I walked away seriously doubting that was the case, because I’ve never had any of the symptoms for it, and sure enough, the test came back negative.

With that, my doctor wanted to do a more comprehensive round of blood work – one that tested my entire hormonal system – mainly test for PCOS. So in I went for more blood work – this time they took a LOT of blood, but it wasn’t too bad. I even felt grateful afterward for some reason (enough to pay it forward, err, backward!). However, I was SO nervous after this appointment. All I could think about is that I’d have PCOS which would mean I’d never ever ever be able to have babies (which is not the case.) And to add to my anxiety, I wouldn’t get the results back for 2 weeks. Guff.

As you can guess, I got the call saying it came back positive for PCOS. I immediately asked what should I do – is there anything I can do?! The nurse basically said that they could put me on birth control to regulate my period. You know, the ol’ western medicine way of slapping a band aid on the actual problem. Baring teeth smile Not satisfied with that answer, I asked if I could make any diet, lifestyle, or environmental changes to help it? To which, I got another unsatisfactory response – "well, you know, just eat right and exercise!"

Oh, gee, I guess I’ll start doing that! *facepalm* Annoyed

Enter: research, research, research

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and get scared, relate to others, feel OK, repeat.

And then I finally contacted my naturopath for an appointment. I took my blood work results in with me, showed him, and he said we can definitely get this under control with diet and supplementation. Now that answer, I liked! Smile

Now comes the part to explain my meals in yesterday’s WIAW post. He told me he wanted me to eat zero grains, no sugar, and even no fruit except for berries. This answer, I wasn’t necessarily ecstatic about, but hey, it’s my health. Apparently my pancreas is stressed out and not producing enough insulin. Basically, he told me I was eating too much sugar (for my particular hormonal system – everyone is different.)

I started this ellimination diet two Friday’s ago, but if you read Monday’s post, obviously didn’t follow it while on vacation in Colorado Winking smile So, I’ll be strictly following it for the next week. After that, then I can slowly add grains back in (yay!) and see how I feel afterward to determine if they can stay.

He also sent me home with supplements. In the morning and evening, I feel like I make a freakin’ meal out of them:

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EFA oils, Livotrit, B complex, and Black currant seed oil – 1 tsp. of the fish/flax/borage oil in the a.m. and evening (bleh…even with water and orange stevia, blech) 2 livotrit in the morning, 1 at night, 4 b complex in the a.m., 1 currant seed oil tablets in the a.m., and 2 in the p.m. Yah…

So that’s where I am now. My naturopath is confident we can regulate my cycles with these supplements and the eating style changes, and I’m excited to see how it goes. Although I was a mess when I first heard those 4 letters, and I still have a lot to learn, at least I know what I’m dealing with and have a plan of attack – and my spirits are much higher than they were a month ago.

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Comments

  1. I’m so sorry Paige. But glad you shared, because you are not alone! I know a lot of women who have this and are not overweight. In fact they are very fit. I think we stress our bodies out more these days due to stress. Not even knowing it. Going the naturopath and western medicine way will do wonders! I went to one for my period problems and stomach problems. Trying to heal from the inside out, yes. Not just temporarily fixing the symptom, like you said. Praying for you! I am here for you.
    cottercrunch recently posted..The No Numbers RunnerMy Profile

  2. Paige, we really are more and more alike every day :) I was diagnosed with PCOS about a month ago as well. I haven’t blogged about it yet (and I even hesitated to leave this comment, because we share a lot of readers!) because I’m still wrapping my head around what it means for me and my body.

    PCOS is so common, but everyone is different in terms of their symptoms and best ways to manage it. I highly, highly recommend checking out this website: http://paleoforwomen.com/ Go to the PCOS category and prepare to have your mind blown. Caution: set aside a few hours to do this – her posts are no joke! I have just bought Stefani’s ebook as well, and it’s so helpful to understanding why we have this condition. Her treatments are natural and mainly focused around diet. I was frustrated when my doctor told me to a) go back on the pill or b) take diabetes medication, which I know should only be a last resort.

    I know how you’re feeling. It’s so frustrating to know that despite being so healthy, we can still have problems. It’s easy to blame yourself for being like this, but don’t. Keep your chin up and please email me any time you want to chat more xoxo
    Tara @ Sweat like a Pig recently posted..The right reasonMy Profile

  3. I hope everything works out! I know several people with PCOS who have gotten pregnant, so you definitely can.
    Lee recently posted..Wedding WeekendMy Profile

  4. This is one of the things that was mentioned to me when I got a lot of testing done for my irregular periods, etc., because I don’t have the best of family history in the women’s health department. Sorry to hear about the diagnosis, however, I’m glad it’s something manageable! :)
    Amy B @ Second City Randomness recently posted..30 Degree SwingsMy Profile

  5. Wish you well! You’ll nail this!!

  6. Thanks so much for being open and honest about your struggles. I know it is not an easy thing to do and really respect you for wanting to share. I’ve always suspected I had problems with irregular thyroid or PCOS for similar reasons as you but have yet to test positive for either. I have visited a homeopathic doctor who I love and who has put me back on a healthy track. I’m so glad you were able to find one too that would address the problem rather than just covering it up with some medicine. Please let me know if you have questions or want some support on grain free and sugar free living. I know it’s not easy and I’m happy to help if you need me :)
    Danielle (@CleanFoodCreativeFitness) recently posted..Paleo Fig BarsMy Profile

  7. Oh darling, you are not alone! In fact, I just posted a few days ago about a little celebration I had, and have posted about my journey in a series of ‘The Skin I’m In’. I wish I could say that this isn’t common, but sadly it is and I don’t understand what is causing it when we don’t have the typical symptoms of being overweight, etc.

    I am SO happy to see you working with a naturopath, I am incredibly grateful for mine! I’ve been working with their since May and I am slowly seeing results. That is the important thing to know Paige, it takes time. Nothing that is long-term especially healing, will happen overnight. When you are frustrated and losing hope, do not give up!! This is reversible… you are doing all the right things to heal from the inside out.

    Sending you hugs and love from up north!
    Christa @ Edible Balance recently posted..The Skin I’m In – Exciting things are happening…My Profile

  8. Paige-

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been irregular since I was 15 years old and have very horrible menstrual cycles (when I do get it). I always knew something was wrong but every doctor that I saw in the past refused to do an ultrasound or any blood work and just told me that they could put me on birth control to regulate it. A few months ago I saw a gynecologist at a very good hospital in Boston whom when I told her about my issue and that we were trying to have a baby, insisted on doing an ultrasound and blood work and that is when I was also diagnosed with it. She also told me that if we wanted to go on birth control to regulate it and then try to have a baby, that could help but at this point, we have been trying for 4 months and only received my period twice during that time period and have only ovulated once during that span. The only other symptom of PCOS that I have is it’s hard for me to lose weight in my stomach area.

    Thank you for your post- I’m going to to buy those supplements and cut down/eliminate sugar.

    @Tara- Thanks for posting that paleo link, I’m going to check that out!

  9. Ahh I’m sorry about your diagnosis. That’s never easy, but I hope you can get everything under control with your diet!
    Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile recently posted..Thursday ThingsMy Profile

  10. I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis but it seems like you’ve really been able to come to a good place with it, though I understand it’s not easy. While different, last year I had surgery to remove cysts and polyps from my ovaries (and they had to leave the ones on my tubes to prevent damaging them) but in the process they found endometriosis and I was then put through a version of menopause (at age 24!). I think the scariest thing about all of these things is the unknown but the best way to handle them is to do your best and ensure you’re taking whatever steps you can to fix them.
    Katie @ Talk Less, Say More recently posted..4 to the 5 Ab WorkoutMy Profile

  11. Oh, wow, Paige. I’m SO sorry to hear that you are dealing with this. Email at any time to chat. Hugs, friend!

  12. thinking of you friend! let me know how i can help! always just an email or text away :) xoxo
    Lindsay (@LeanGrnBeanBlog) recently posted..Perfectly Roasted ChickpeasMy Profile

  13. Thanks for being so honest and open with your story. I’m hoping your body gets back on track soon!
    Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie recently posted..Veggie Reviewed 2My Profile

  14. Thank you for being so open and honest, Paige. It looks like you have a good handle on everything with the diet change. I hope it all works out!! xoxo
    Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian recently posted..Two ShoesMy Profile

  15. I am so sorry Paige but I am really glad you decided to share! I am sure there are many people out there who can relate to what you are going through. I also really like that your are taking the natural approach, I am hoping to get myself to see one of those doctors soon to sort out my own issues!
    Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots recently posted..Finz Seafood and Grill ReviewMy Profile

  16. Good luck Paige – I’ll be anxious to hear how everything turns out for you! I know dealing with a health issue can be tough but it sounds like you’ve got a great action plan. I think talking about our struggles is so important – everyone is going through something – thanks for being so open and sharing. Wishing you the best :)
    Kristi @ lifesprinkles.com recently posted..some thoughtsMy Profile

  17. You know I’m thinking of you, Paige. If you need anything at all, EVER, I’m always an email away. Which I think you know. ;)
    xoxoxo
    Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life recently posted..Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins + I’m Outta Town!My Profile

  18. I knew it was grains right off the bat!

    I’m sorry to hear that you are dealing with this but it seems like you are doing the right thing, rather than just taking a pill to fix it all. You will be healthier in the long run!
    Jillian @ Sprinkle Massacre recently posted..Tread WaterMy Profile

  19. Love you girl! I’m praying your new diet and supps will help everything! If for whatever reason it doesn’t, email me because I have some thoughts about the issue. xoxo
    Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries recently posted..11/15: Thursday ThoughtsMy Profile

  20. I’m so sorry about your diagnosis!! I’ll be keeping you in my prayers. Aren’t naturopaths awesome. I don’t have PCOS, but I do have cycle problems as well. Girl… we REALLY need to chat! I will shoot you an email… after my exams on Saturday!
    Brittany @ Delights and Delectables recently posted..3 Surprising Must Haves from Trader Joe’sMy Profile

  21. Thank you so much for sharing! Here’s hope that you get it under control asap! Is PCOS ever curable or do you only need to maintain control? I have a form of thyroid disease so I can sympathize (somewhat). I’ve not even posted about it on my blog but it takes courage like yours to lay it out to the world.
    Genelle recently posted..Bootcamp OrientationMy Profile

  22. Sending you hugs Paige! Please email me :) I am guessing your bloodwork showed insulin problems? My best friend just had a PCOS dx from the same thing. So I have her taking Chromium and 1T flax a day and watching her card and sugar intake, it was recommended for me when I first had the dx but turned out that my insulin levels were ok. My dx came from ovarian cysts which I now know are from a HA – hypothalamic amenorrhea. Thinking of you always! I am here to chat any time!
    Lindsey recently posted..It’s Starting…My Profile

    • Yup. Craziness. I never got an ultrasound/sonogram – my OBGYN said blood work was all that was needed to diagnose it.

    • I’ve been told I have HA as well… Some cysts on my ovaries but not enough other factors to be diagnosed with PCOS. So frustrating.

  23. Paige – you are one of the strongest and determined women I know. I am very proud of you for sharing this information, it’s not easy “putting it all out there” but it looks like you have great blog friends who can empathasize and sympathize (and not to mention are full of knowledge!)
    I have been thinking about you and I know you will get this under control :)

    Lots of love,

    Kim

    P.S. Can’t wait to give you a big ol’ hug in a few weeks– MULU
    Kimberly recently posted..In Between Gettin’ Figgy Wit ItMy Profile

  24. I think it’s really brave to share such a personal thing. I also think that you are being incredibly proactive in taking charge of your health. I will be thinking about you and hope you kick this in the booty asap!
    Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family recently posted..Holiday Family TraditionsMy Profile

  25. I think it’s so neat that you shared, Paige – really helps to share those things because obviously others are in the same boat! Interesting (and not surprising) to hear of your experience with more western medicine as opposed to the more homeopathic way of approaching situations…I’m glad you’re getting answers and look forward to hearing how it will work out in your body! …does it hurt? Besides the length of time between cycles, were you experiencing any pain or other symptoms? Just interested! I know it sounds like you didn’t exhibit as many symptoms as others often experience.

    Here’s to renewed health for your body! :D Thanks for sharing your journey with us.
    Bonnie recently posted..Pressing OnMy Profile

    • Thanks, Bonnie :) No other symptoms whatsoever. It’s a good thing, I guess, but also part of the reason I was so frustrated with the diagnosis.

  26. I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnose Paige! Although, I’m glad you did share with us what is going on. I actually have an appointment in the next month to get tested, because my Doctor’s think I may have this as well. I think this will help a ton of people who are going through the same thing (maybe even me);) I’m happy to hear you are receiving more answers and I really hope the new diet will help with everything!! Thinking of you!
    Lisa recently posted..To eat or not to eat…My Profile

  27. Good luck!! I’ve read a lot about eliminating grains and sugar lately to reduce inflammation and help with insulin levels (Paleo books!) and it seems to help a lot. Fingers crossed!

  28. Thank you Paige for being so open and honest and sharing your story with us. I know that there are others out there who will appreciate this. A good friend of mine has PCOS (who’s also had 2 kids) and I know that it can be a jarring diagnosis but I’m glad that you are getting some answers and you have a plan. Good luck
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Out of the waterMy Profile

  29. On the bright side, this temporary change in your diet can be exciting! I do not eat any kind of grains and it makes cooking much more interesting, being forced to use and combine new foods is challenging and rewarding!

  30. Thank you SO much for posting this. I’ve been talking about this a lot with Tara lately – I think it’s also something I have. Same issues and even worse. I’m avoiding the doc I suck I know but I also know its something I need to take care of ASAP. Oy. Thanks for bringing awareness and making me realize I really do need to see someone. Bahhh. I’m sure we’ll e chattig more about this! Love you friend! Xoxo

  31. Marie-Sophie says:

    I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue about 1,5 months ago which means that basically my hormones are all over the place and my cortisol and adrenaline levels are pathetic (my adrenal glands or better, my adrenal gland since I only have one kidney, are chronically fatigued). This is RARELY diagnosed by Western Medicine since it can only be diagnosed by seeing a bootload of symptoms as a whole and by doing specific tests. Enter narrow-minded Western Medicine … ENTER holistic medicine!! I can’t just take medication and it’s fine, I basically have to change my whole lifestyle, my nutrition, have to take supplements and I also chose to get support in the recovery process via acupuncture and osteopathy.

    The hormones being out of whack influence my fertility and becoming pregnant with fatigued adrenals is not the wisest thing since pregnancy does put stress on your body, it does require a healthy body (and my body has been chronially depleted of minerals since my systems haven’t been working properly) and especially early motherhood can put some serious stress on your system. So it’s recovery of adrenal(s) first or I am in trouble!

    Good luck with the recovery, Paige!

  32. Oh Paige, I am so so sorry. That must be so encouraging to have a naturopath who believes this can be beat though!
    I’ve heard a LOT of positive stories regarding PCOS and overcoming it, and I truly believe that you will too! Your health and well being will be in my thoughts and prayers <3
    Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance recently posted..Diva EvolutionMy Profile

  33. I was diagnosed 12 years ago- 12 years of struggling through birth control (that they change every time it starts to become ineffective) and then the knowledge that at 37 (currently) the chances of having children are slim to none (and I am still single so that effects it as well). 12 years of wondering why me- and then for the last 4 years have dealt with kidney issues as well (that have recently gotten under control with a drastic change in diet). Anyway, all that to say, I understand where you are coming from and I’ll be reading with interest to see how this helps!
    Tami Grandi recently posted..Busy, Busy, BusyMy Profile

  34. Paige,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I personally know how shocking it can be especially when we don’t fit the typical pattern for PCOS. It was near the beginning of 2011 that I noticed two more irregular periods than normal (40 day cycle), but other than that I thought my periods were just fine. I don’t know what it was about the description I gave my OBGYN, but she did the work up for PCOS and sure enough I had it. I was put on glucophage (yes, it’s normally a diabetes medicine, but the side effect if regular ovulation) and sure enough it worked well for me! We went the glucophage route because I didn’t want to be on birth control. Anyway, I took it for three months before getting pregnant (yippy!) During my first ultrasound to verify pregnancy, she also looked at my ovaries and there were any polycists (thank goodness!).

    I’m currently 8 months postpartum and once we want to have a second kid my new doctor (I moved while I was pregnant) is going to repeat the workup to ensure that the diagnosis is correct and to establish a new plan!

    I’m confident you can get through this and if you ever want to talk I’m here!
    Katie
    Katie recently posted..AJH: 8 Months Old!My Profile

  35. I was diagnosed with this at the very young age of 15. Like you, no outward signs that I should have PCOS and my doctor diagnosed in the same way you did. Years later, I finally had an ultrasound, which showed that my ovaries were completely normal and cyst free. Turns out, my symptoms (very similar to yours) were caused by other things and I didn’t need to be on treatment for PCOS. I would just consider getting a second opinion before you drastically change your diet and go on meds. PCOS is being used more and more as a blanket diagnosis – you can tell from all the women commenting saying that they have it that this is so. I bet you many of them were misdiagnosed. Just something to think about.

  36. Paige, I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis.
    I was first diagnosed with PCOS when I was a teenager. In college, many doctors that I saw did not believe I had PCOS because I was thin. After some stomach issues, one doctor recommended I eat gluten free. I have been gluten free ever since. I have to watch my sugar (which is not a bad thing anyway).
    I had really long cycles too and always worried about getting pregnant.
    I found alot of help search sites for “thin PCOS”.
    I also remember cinnamon tablets helping with my insulin levels.
    Anyway, was surprised with my first little miracle in October 2009, and we had our second son two years later. My latest doctors appointment the doctor was wanting to take the PCOS diagnosis off of my chart because it was not having any effect on my fertility.
    So I guess I just wanted to encourage you that you PCOS does not have to be a hinderance. And diet changes do help. :)

    P.S. I’m a central Illinois dweller too :)

  37. Oh friend, I am behind on you, I’m so sorry!! I have a REALLY close friend who has battled PCOS and has learned a TON about her body along the way. A TON. If you ever need advice on what has worked for her over the years, I’m sure she’d happily share with you by email if you’re looking for additional advice from someone who has been there? Just wanted to throw it out there. I am sending you lots of love and support as you figure all of this out, I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with it too :( xo
    Jess Sutera recently posted..When the “Universe” speaks.My Profile

  38. Thank you for sharing such a personal issue. I am a believer that sharing our struggles can not only help us, but help others! Glad you know what is up with your bod and are taking the steps to heal. Love you.
    janetha recently posted..overnight escape.My Profile

  39. Hey Paige! I wasn’t going to post as I figured you wouldn’t need it. But though I don’t comment often…I love you and I love your blog so I figured you deserved to hear something!

    I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but I’m glad you’ve been able to come to terms with it and create a plan of action. That is a crazy amount of supplements! But I wish you all the best and look forward to being here with you on your journey! Stay strong :)
    Trudy recently posted..It’s just another MondayMy Profile

  40. Thanks so much for sharing this, Paige! I also have PCOS even though I’m not overweight and my excess hair is more or less under control. It can be a shocker getting the diagnosis.

    It’s great that you’re using diet and supplements to manage PCOS. I agree that the medical community want to treat the symptoms but never really address the underlying issues.

    Hope the supplements and diet help!
    Tarryn – PCOS Diet recently posted..Omega 3’s lower your PCOS Testosterone LevelsMy Profile

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  43. Hi All
    I was once diagnosed with PCOS when I was 23 and yes all the doctor will give you is a chance to get on the pill which does nothing for you. I struggled to find a solution for 4 years till I found a naturopath that suggested eating a low GI diet- yes cutting out the excessive grains and carbohydrates and sugar will help.

    From a personal viewpoint, I started doing crossfit which is high intensity interval training . This is really good for regulating insulin levels.

    It has been 3 years since all my cycles returned to normal. Diet and exercise makes a huge difference and PCOS is curable.

    It definitely takes time to make these changes but when you see the health benefits of it, you wouldn’t want to do anything less…. just wanted to share my story of a similar journey.

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