As we all know, at least 1 in 10 women are diagnosed with PCOS and everyday more and more women are added to our numbers. For so many of us, we get the diagnosis and are then left to our own devices, with very little information and support. I asked the women on the PCOS Diet Support Facebook page what they think every woman with PCOS needs to know. Here is what they said:
You are Not Alone
PCOS can often leave us feeling isolated and alone. The symptoms are embarrassing and not something we tend to speak about so it’s hard to find other women with the same diagnosis.
But, you really aren’t alone! There are hundreds of thousands of women with PCOS and so many of us know what you are going through. So, if you have just been diagnosed, take heart that you are not alone and why not check out the PCOS Diet Support Facebook page to connect with women who know what you’re going through.
Diet and Exercise are the Best Medicine for PCOS
I’ve mentioned this in a number of previous articles and this is the foundation of this blog and my own management of PCOS. Researchers have found that diet and lifestyle changes are often more effective than medication in managing PCOS and should always be first line of treatment (1)
So, what is the best diet for PCOS?
Try some of these articles for more information:
You can Fall Pregnant
One of the most difficult symptoms of PCOS is the difficulty falling pregnant. We are often diagnosed as we’re trying to conceive but are struggling to. I have also heard of many women being told that they will not be able to have children when they are diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This is simply not true.
I am one of thousands of women with PCOS who have fallen pregnant naturally and I have two beautiful children. There are many thousands more who may have needed help in the form of fertility treatment but they have also fallen pregnant. So, the bottom line is that just because you have been diagnosed with PCOS, does not mean that you will be unable to fall pregnant.
PCOS is for Life
Doctors are unsure of how PCOS develops or why we have it although scientists have recently identidies the genee thought to cause PCOS. PCOS seems to be caused by our insulin releasing cells over responding to carbohydrates and releasing too much insulin. This excess insulin acts on our ovaries (and adrenal glands), causing them to produce too much testosterone.
Basically, there is something fundamentally broken in our bodies and this is not going to go away. We can certainly manage it and our symptoms and we don’t have to be slaves to our PCOS. But, PCOS is not going to go away and we need to get control of it NOW.
PCOS Doesn’t Define You
PCOS tends to strike the core of who we are as women and can make us feel much less than we are. There is very little that is attractive about PCOS: hair growing in places you don’t want it, that extra tyre around your belly, skin of a teenager. But those things don’t define you. This is what I think defines a woman with PCOS:
- We are so courageous, facing this condition day in and day out, with perseverance and determination, not letting it get in our way.
- We are strong, fighting our bodies and our cravings, determined not to give in but sticking to our plan so that we reach our goals (whether it be to improve our skin, lose weight or have a baby).
- We are creative, finding ways to make food fun and use it as our medicine.
- We are so loving and supportive, reaching out to each other, feeling each other’s pain and encouraging each other to keep moving forward.
- More than anything, we are BEAUTIFUL (whether we feel it or not).
You have the Right to Excellent Medical Care
I have come across this time and time again and I have experienced it myself. So many of us are diagnosed and then left to our own devices. I was only offered treatment if I wanted to fall pregnant otherwise I was largely brushed off.
If you feel that your doctor isn’t listening to you or hearing you; if you feel that you’re not getting the help that you need, you should ask for a second opinion or a referral to a doctor who specializes in PCOS. You are in charge of your health and you need to make sure that you are getting the right support to manage it in the long term.
Also, it is important to remember that many women with PCOS also have other medical needs. Diabetes, thyroid problems, depression and anxiety and cardiovascular disease are often associated with PCOS. If you feel that your symptoms are not getting better in spite of following a PCOS diet and regular exercise, you could have other medical problems that also need to be addressed.
It will Take Time
Treating PCOS (either through diet and lifestyle or medication) takes time and is an exercise in patience. Many of the symptoms will take time to improve and get under control. So, if you don’t see results immediately, be patient and keep on keeping on. It will get better, it just takes some time.
So, these are some of the things that every woman with PCOS should know. If you think that I’ve left something out, leave me a comment and let me know!