I have struggled with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), since the 8th grade. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that causes ovarian cysts that can lead to infertility. However, I was just labeled as “irregular” or having Amenorrhea, it wasn’t given a name. In my opinion as a middle school student it was the worst thing any girl could go through. From the acne to always having my period, it was awful, and I pray my daughter never has to go through what I did.
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As I got older my menstrual cycle became non-existent. I was put on the pill at 18 and given a pat on the back that I would be fine. Until I tried to conceive! My doctor told me to see a specialist if I wanted to get pregnant since I was 35 and irregular. Wait what?! I left the office crying my eyes out. Why wasn’t I told this would be a problem before?
I started seeing a reproductive specialist every week. They wanted me to start trying fertility shots, but I wasn’t ready for that. I decided to take a break and change the way I ate.
If you are overweight and have PCOS, most doctors tell you to lose weight and perhaps it will be the answer to your problem. However, if you are thin, what is the answer?
Effects of Diet on Infertility
I had done a lot of research on diet and the effects of sugar on women with PCOS and insulin resistance, where the cells resist the glucose from entering the cells to be used as energy. This in turn causes an increase in insulin in the blood, which causes an increase in testosterone, which can inhibit fertility.
I started cutting out sugar all together and all white bread, pasta, white rice and potatoes. I replaced it with whole wheat pasta, brown rice, vegetables and salads. I replaced white flour with oat flour where I could and sugar with honey or agave. I ate lots of almonds and walnuts and cheese. Some say to cut out dairy, but I did not and I didn’t seem to have a problem, but everyone’s body is different.
Here are some of my favorite low carb meals that I make every week. http://simplyhughesful.com/2017/06/24/easy-to-prepare-low-carb-meals/
To my surprise, my first cycle on the diet was 30 days! I got pregnant that month! Why didn’t anyone tell me this could possibly work? Nobody explained to me what PCOS was doing to my body and what could quite possibly help. I had to do the research all on my own or resort to fertility shots or perhaps other fertilization methods. I would want to exhaust all possible methods before having to put myself through that.
So when I tried for my second child I started eating the same way months before we starting trying to conceive and I got pregnant on the first try!! I’m not saying this will work for everyone. PCOS is a very mysterious disease and everyone is affected differently, but we can try different things to hopefully find the answer that our bodies will respond to.
Now that I am 42 years old, PCOS has shown itself in different ways. I was diagnosed with prediabetes after my second child. I’ve gone back to the old acne days that I had in 8th grade and oily skin is an understatement, but I have my kids and its all about being grateful at this point in my life.
My goal is to eat the minimal amount of sugar and totally cut out white flour. I’m not extreme, I still indulge in pizza once in awhile, but I substitute where I can. I’m going to try to change my daughter’s fate by revamping our diet and teaching her to make good choices. This is extremely hard since my husband is a sugar freak and my daughter is one as well. But if I can at least get her to try new things and open up her palate I will be a happy mom.
She is luckier than I was because unlike my mother I will know the signs of PCOS and be able to help her early on. I was embarrassed to ask for help, but you can believe that I will be on top of it when it comes to my daughter. Maybe my symptoms would not have been so bad if my mother went through the same thing and she could have helped me.
However, we know a lot more about PCOS now than we did then. I will continue to pray that she isn’t faced with this disease and she can live a normal life and be as beautiful as she is without the physical symptoms that plagued me throughout high school. I teach her about inner beauty every single solitary day, so that if she does go through what I did she will know that true beauty comes from within.
I also want to research more on supplements to ease the symptoms. So far my top picks are Cinnamon for leveling out blood sugar levels and spearmint tea and flax seed for hormonal balance. These seem like the most natural ways to experiment, since lots of supplements should be monitored by a doctor. I have been adding 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed to my morning smoothie and you can’t even taste the difference.
Until then I hope I have helped at least one person out there. No doctor told me I could try something as easy as eating better to help solve fertility issues, I had to find out for myself. Thank goodness for the internet, there is a wealth of knowledge out there from facebook groups to forums. You are not alone.
What steps are you taking to ease your symptoms of PCOS?