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Living with PCOS or getting diagnosed! I'm not sure what's worse!
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Member Name: fabclaire
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Disadvantages: Heavy, painful, irregular periods, acne, excess hair, etc.........
As this is my first review please be kind to me with your comments and ratings :)! (I'm sure you will be)
Anyway I have decided to write about my experience of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It is actually a relatively common condition among women in the UK but it can often remain undiagnosed for years so it is quite possible that some of you reading this will have PCOS without even knowing about it.
The condition has many different symptoms but the main one which is obviously caused by the PCOS is problems with your periods. Generally sufferers of PCOS will experience irregular periods and often when they do get a period it will be heavy or long or both. The condition is also linked with a number of other conditions such as obesity (and difficulty in losing weight), diabetes, high blood pressure, excessive hair growth, acne and problems when trying to conceive.
Sufferers of PCOS usually have a number of small cysts on the ovaries, hence the name of the condition but apparently this isn't always the case and you can still have PCOS without actually having any cysts at all. I think it is to do with hormone levels and that sort of thing but to be honest I'm not sure.
It is also quite a difficult condition to diagnose and can take years for some people to actually be confirmed with the condition.
I personally think that I may have had PCOS for years, I started my periods when I was 13 and by the time I was 15 they still hadn't really settled down and when I got them they tended to be quite long and painful so my mum took me off to the doctors where I was prescribed Cilest. The doctor didn't seem too concerned about things and said it was quite normal for somebody my age to have irregular periods and that the pill would sort it out. Now to be fair it did, after a few months my periods became more regular, less painful and less heavy and I continued on with this pill for about 10 years.
Then in 2008 I split up with my boyfriend and as I was no longer having sex decided that I should probably give my body a break from all the hormones I had been feeding it. For the first couple of months things seemed ok and to be honest I didn't even think about the problems I use to have because I just thought it was to do with my age and it was so long ago but then things started to get worse. My periods went back to how they were previously with me going for months without one and then when it did come it would last for up to two weeks at times and be very heavy and painful.
It was then that I decided I needed to go back to the doctors to see what was going on and it actually took until just before Christmas this year to finally get diagnosed. At first, I found it hard to get taken seriously, I think that a lot of doctors don't really seem too interested when you go and see them about your periods and are happy just to fob you off with the pill or tell you it will get better in time.
Personally I had a lot of different tests (blood and hormone) over an 18 month period and whilst initially being told I didn't have PCOS I was eventually told that I did have it! (I told you it was hard to be diagnosed and I still don't understand why it didn't show up the first time!) I was also sent for a vaginal ultrasound which isn't particularly pleasant I must say but this showed that I had about 15 small cysts on my ovaries.
After I was diagnosed I then went back to the doctor to discuss treatment and ways in which I can try and help manage the condition by changing my diet and lifestyle as apparently this can also have an affect on the condition. I was prescribed the pill again, although this time it was Cerazette due to some other health problems which meant the combined pill wouldn't be suitable. He also advised me on eating healthily and to try and give up smoking and although I succeeded with the first unfortunately the second is a much tougher battle to fight and I'm not ready for that one just yet! (I think the smoking part was to do with the risks of getting diabetes if you have PCOS though rather than the condition itself. Still not great though I admit!)
The pill itself is supposed to help regulate your periods and make them more manageable and possibly even stop them altogether with this one and it can also help to regulate your hormones which means some of the other symptoms like acne and excess hair growth become less of a problem too, although luckily I never really suffered too much with those things anyway.
There are other treatments available too which I haven't explored yet and I know that should the time come that I want to conceive I may need to get extra help as it can be very difficult if you suffer from PCOS. I believe that metaformin is often prescribed to help with this but to be really honest I'm not too sure what the drug actually does! And obviously, more direct fertility treatment can be an option if you can't conceive naturally.
Personally my experience with the new pill hasn't been too great so far. It went ok for the first few weeks but then about 5 weeks ago I got my period as normal and it still hasn't stopped which is extremely annoying, frustrating and expensive too! (I'm sure the Tesco clubcard people must wonder why I buy sanitary towels every week I go there!) I am going to give this more time though as the doctor did say it is a side effect of the pill and that it will hopefully stop eventually but I will be going back very frequently if it doesn't to see what else can be done! I already have iron tablets which have made me feel less drained and the bleeding is nowhere near as heavy as one of my periods but it is still definitely bleeding rather than spotting and having to wear sanitary towels every day for over a month is really becoming tiresome now!!!!
In conclusion I would urge anybody that thinks they have the condition to persevere with their doctor to try and get diagnosed and this actually goes for anything really. I think it is all too easy to accept the first opinion you are given and to take some pills which hide the symptoms but there is often more benefit in pushing for a proper diagnosis because then you can take real steps in sorting the problem!
I hope my first review was ok and you enjoyed reading it. I would certainly appreciate any feedback on the writing or the subject matter. I don't actually know anybody else with the condition so it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who experiences these things!
Summary: There is help, IF you can get it!
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