One of the things I've mentioned a few times here on the blog and on Instagram posts is that I have PCOS. I want to share some details with about PCOS, what it is, how it effects women, and how I'm working to reverse it.
Remember, I am not a professional in the medical field, just a woman who feels empowered enough to figure things out.
PCOS is an acronym for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The name makes it sound like it's an issue with cysts on your ovaries, but the name is just a scratch on the surface to the real issues going on inside. Some women do develop cysts on their ovaries, some (like me) do not. The real issue at play is hormones. PCOS is a hormone disorder.
When your hormones are disrupted and not functioning properly, everything is thrown off. With PCOS your cycles are extremely irregular, you have difficulty losing weight and it's incredibly easy to gain weight. Other symptoms are partial or total infertility, fatigue, acne, excess production of testosterone, male pattern baldness, facial and abdomen hair, and mood changes. Yeah, there are some real great symptoms there.
When did you realize that you had it?
When I was in college, my cycle wasn't really a cycle. It was nonexistent. So like any mature college student would do, I called my mom. She encouraged me to find a gynecologist in my area and make an appointment, you know like real adults.
After that visit to the doctor, I was put on birth control to regulate my cycle. They threw out the term, PCOS, but didn't really explain it to me. It was one of those situations where the doctor said, "You more than likely have PCOS. Take birth control." So that's what I did. I didn't do any research about PCOS or how birth control effects you. It didn't even cross my mind that I could be doing something about this diagnosis without medication.
I had heard that being on birth control helped some girls lose weight, so I was excited to have that prescription. I was thinking that being on birth control would help me lose weight without me changing any of my habits. Yeah, college JJ wasn't all that smart.
Being on birth control made me feel crazy so after 6 months I quit taking it. Also, it still never crossed my mind that PCOS was a real life condition and that I needed to do something about it. That drive and desire wouldn't come until years later after I got married and wanted to get pregnant.
Why is it a big deal?
PCOS is a big deal because your hormones are a big deal! PCOS is the leading cause of infertility. A LOT of women have it, they just might not realize that they do. Not everyone shows all the symptoms and that's why it's so tricky.
PCOS causes infertility or makes it extremely difficult to get pregnant. If you do get pregnant, it's a high risk pregnancy.
Along with fertility issues, the other main symptom that I am focusing on correcting is insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a dangerous road that leads to Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. Those are 2 internal issues that I do NOT want to have.
Finally, the 3rd reason why PCOS is a big deal is because it's linked to higher risks of cancer.
What are you doing about it?
For a long time I avoided the diagnoses. I just continued on my merry way slamming cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream, and fries, but in the back of my mind I knew that things had to change. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I actually felt empowered enough to take my life into my own hands and start making changes from the inside out.
I knew that I didn't want to be on medication. I KNEW that I could work on my issues in a natural way. I knew that just taking synthetic medication wasn't going to solve my problem, but contribute to more. That was a turning point.
The timeline coincides with our adoption timeline. After trying to get pregnant for a year and a half, I knew what it was. My body wasn't healthy enough to get pregnant. The systems weren't working. That was another major turning point.
I started devouring all of the information I could get my hands on. I read story after story of people who reversed PCOS and went on to lead healthy lives. All of my research led to a 2 pronged approach to healing my hormone issue: diet/lifestyle changes and reducing exposure to endocrine disruptors.
I've already shared making the switch to Keto in another blog post. You can read more details about that here.
What are endocrine disruptors?
"Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism or elimination of the body’s natural hormones." (Dr. Axe)
So toxins, unnatural products, chemicals, all the bad and scary stuff that's in processed food, cleaning products, beauty products, and pretty much everything else we come in contact with in our everyday lives. Yeah, that's kind of a bummer because toxins are everywhere, BUT, there are things we can do!
We can make the switch to using the right kind of products in our homes and eating as natural as possible. That's one of the biggest reasons why I've joined up with Young Living, first as a customer and now as a distributor. Read more about that here and here.
The first thing I did to start limiting endocrine disruptors was not order a starter kit of oils (that came a little while later!). I took a look at all the products that I came in contact with in the kitchen and those in my beauty products.
Instead of storing my food in plastic containers, I started using glass containers.
I stopped drinking out of plastic water bottles (that includes convenient water bottles like Dasani) and started drinking out of my stainless steel cup. I'm not perfect with it. I have the occasional bottle of water, but 95% of the time I'm drinking my own water out of a stainless steel cup. I bring my water with me everywhere I go. Glass bottles are also A-okay! I just prefer stainless steel. Too scared I'm going to break the glass.. LOL. I also got a stainless steel travel cup for my coffee.
The next thing I did was evaluate my beauty products and did research on what to buy once I ran out -- soap, body wash, lotion, face wash, moisturizer, makeup remover wipes, and makeup. If it was going on my body, I wanted it to not be filled with chemicals. That also includes laundry detergent. It's been a slow change on that front, but I'm LOVING trying new products.
I hope that gives you a clearer picture of what PCOS is and why it's a big deal. Even more so, I hope that you feel EMPOWERED to start taking health things seriously. You CAN make changes. You CAN do research for yourself and learn what's effecting you internally and externally. I would love to help you do that. I'm figuring out this stuff for myself and I would love to share what I'm learning with you along the way. We're a team! We have to help each other!
If you have any questions about PCOS, tell me in the comments because I've probably had or currently have the same questions! I also recommend making the switch to non-toxic living if you don't have a condition like PCOS. You don't want endocrine disruptors effecting you at all!