I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2009.
At the time, everything I knew about PCOS came from the flimsy little pamphlet my doctor handed to me after my ultrasound. Even after spending a few months scouring the web for more info on PCOS, I was still pretty empty handed.
It felt nearly impossible to get started on my healing because I couldn’t find any high quality information.
So then there were a lot of things I learned about PCOS over the course of doing several years of research and writing.
In fact, I learned so much that I cured my own PCOS in 2013, and I began curing thousands of other women’s PCOS with my rather ground-breaking (if I do say so myself) manual on PCOS – PCOS Unlocked.
(It really has done some wonders, check it out for yourself @ here if you’d like!)
Anyway. I have since made it my mission to prevent you from suffering the same years of frustration heart-break. To that end, here are the top 5 things I have since learned, that I wish I had known when I was diagnosed with PCOS:
1. You don’t have to be overweight to have PCOS
You do not have to be overweight to have PCOS. In fact, approximately 35% of women who have PCOS are not overweight. If you are not overweight and you have PCOS, you have a lot of friends.
Most women who have PCOS struggle with insulin resistance. This often goes along with being overweight, but doesn’t always.
It is entirely possible to be “normal” or a healthy weight and be insulin resistant. In this case, you will probably still want to work on your insulin resistance for the sake of your PCOS. The best way to know whether that will work for you is to get tested for insulin resistance.
But plenty of women who have PCOS are normal weight and are not insulin resistant. I was one of them. We are the women who fall through the cracks, because weight loss and insulin sensitivity are the two biggest causes of PCOS doctors focus on, almost to the exclusion of everything else.
So you might, but you do not have to be overweight to have PCOS. And there are solutions for you one way or another.
2. There are many different causes of PCOS
Doctors, authors, and most bloggers talk about only one or two causes of PCOS. They talk about being overweight, and they talk about insulin resistance.
But did you know that stress, hypothyroidism, a low carbohydrate diet, under-eating, overexercising, excessive weight loss and low body weight, inflammation, the MTHFR gene mutation, menopause, and birth control pill use can all contribute to PCOS?
Before I came around, very few people ever talked about these causes. But they are very important underlying problems for just about every woman who has PCOS. My own PCOS was caused by a confluence of many factors: low body weight, excessive exercise, stress, hypothyroidism, and MTHFR.
For a resource (or really, the only resource) that covers how to overcome PCOS from all of its various causes, I’m not sure if you could do better than my own.
3. PCOS affects more than your period
When I was first diagnosed with PCOS, honestly, I didn’t really care.
I mean, sure. I didn’t get my period any more. But I actually thought that was kind of a relief.
Little did I know that the longer I let my PCOS go, the worse my hormone levels got. My testosterone and DHEA-S levels kept climbing (this was bad), and my LH, FSH, estrogen, and progesterone levels kept falling (this was also bad).
I developed acne over time. It became very severe.
I lost my libido.
I began sleeping poorly.
I was infertile.
If I had taken my PCOS seriously right from the get-go, I might have avoided all these symptoms. PCOS can also cause male pattern hair growth (like mustaches), balding, weight gain, mood disorders, and early menopause. PCOS is primarily a hormone condition, but it can affect all of your health.
4. PCOS requires patience
Overcoming PCOS takes time. This is in large part because each woman’s PCOS is unique. You cannot necessarily follow the prescriptions written for somebody else. You need to follow your own path.
Following your own path with PCOS means getting tests done, talking with your doctor or other health professionals, doing research, experimenting with different hypotheses you have about what’s causing your PCOS and how to overcome it, and giving your body the time it needs to heal from underlying health conditions.
The thing about PCOS is that it is always caused by an underlying condition. Until this condition is cured, the PCOS will not go away. No medication will cure the PCOS. No wishful thinking. The only thing that can help you overcome PCOS is making the dietary and lifestyle changes you need in order to heal the underlying condition.
5. Sometimes the most important thing is being honest with yourself.
When I had PCOS, I was in serious denial.
I thought: “there’s got to be a cure out there that will enable me to have my cake and eat it, too!”
I kept looking for the secret pill, the magic bullet.
I suspected that I needed to gain weight in order to regain hormone balance, but I didn’t want to. I had worked very hard starving myself and exercising twice daily in order to fit into the body mold I thought was “sexy.”
So I ignored weight gain as a possible cure. Instead I tried taking metformin and spironolactone, two drugs that did significant damage to organs in my body that I still haven’t recovered from. Instead I waited. Instead I kept looking for a different cure.
Eventually I summoned the courage to gain some weight, and my menstrual cycle returned.
You may not have the exact same story as me, but maybe it’s a similar one. Maybe you suspect you need to eliminate grains from your diet but are afraid to. Maybe you don’t want to give up sugar. Maybe you don’t want to give up being a Cross Fit athlete. Maybe your job is really stressful but you can’t bring yourself to leave. Maybe you’re just afraid of change, or lazy.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your PCOS is simply to be honest. Do some tests, be virogously honest with yourself, and then craft a plan for healing. This, in my perspective, is the best thing you can do to speed up your healing from PCOS. It’ll help you get right down to the cures you need, instead of flailing about hoping things will just get better.
So that’s it for the 5 most important things I wish I knew back in the day.
If I had, I would have saved myself years of both physical and mental anguish.
You can read more about what PCOS is in this post,
or if you already know you’ve got it, check out that manual I wrote for overcoming PCOS, at this link. It’s an immediate download – you could get started on the most effective healing path for you today. !
So what about you? What do you wish you knew when you were diagnosed with PCOS? What about other health conditions? What advice would you give your younger self?