I’ve been staring at this screen for days, trying to figure out how to begin, how to say what I want to say, and whether I should say it at all.
Despite my hesitancy, I’ve decided it’s time to be open and honest, and talk about my recent diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It’s a scary thing to talk about, because it’s extremely personal and somewhat embarrassing. But the truth is, maybe talking about it will encourage someone, help another woman who has PCOS, or simply foster openness and honesty…. and if so, then that’s what I want to do.
It’s the same reason we chose to be honest about our miscarriage. We want God to be able to use our trials to help others, so we share. Even when sharing is hard.
So, here’s the story.
(Warning: there’s going to be some TMI [too much information!] in this post. If you’re bothered by that, feel free to move on and explore one of my other posts! 🙂 )
What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
PCOS is defined as a “hormonal disorder.” It’s actually fairly widespread, as it’s estimated 1 in 10 women have it. There is a standard list of the “common” symptoms, but in reality, it’s really not “one size fits all.” Each woman with PCOS has a unique experience and set of symptoms. For example, one of the classic symptoms is being overweight. I don’t have that symptom, but I do have frequent pain around my ovaries, which a lot of patients don’t experience.
Here is a graphic I made to show some of the most common symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Again, not every woman with PCOS deals with every one of these… it’s simply an average.
What does this mean for me?
On a daily basis, it means I deal with pelvic pain and a few other irritating symptoms, lots of recent doctor visits, and experimenting to try to figure out what combination of diet, supplements, and medications will help me feel the best and have a more regular cycle.
On a long-term basis, as we look forward to starting a family, it means we might struggle with infertility, and that our risk of miscarriage is closer to 50%, rather than the 15-20% rate most healthy women face.
PCOS also increases my risk of diabetes, depression, and several types of cancer. This disorder is manageable, but not curable at this time.
I won’t keep going into detail here about what this entails physically, but please feel free to ask me about it if there is something you want to know. This website also has good, easy-to-read information on this topic.
Where’s the good in this?
As followers of Jesus, Brett and I want to find hope by looking for the good – what God is doing – in every situation. I have to admit, having PCOS is a difficult situation to see good in. It seems pointless. And quite honestly, it can be overwhelming, frustrating, and scary.
But day by day, moment by moment, I’m going to choose to look for God’s blessings. To look for what He is teaching me and how He is shaping me to His image. I’m going to look for God-given opportunities that may arise as a result of having this health issue, and take every opportunity I have to give Him glory. I’m going to thank Him every day for His innumerable gifts. And I’m going to keep sharing my heart and my story, praying that my openness will extend courage and hope to someone else.
What can you do?
- Don’t act weird around me. I’m not an invalid, depressed, or contagious. I’ll tell you if I’m having a bad day and need my space or rest. Otherwise, let’s just forget it and be normal, okay?
- Ask questions if you want to know something. Really, I don’t mind. Awareness is a good thing.
- Know that we’ve got the experts working on it, and we don’t really need advice about how your sister’s best friend’s cousin fixed her hormone problems and magically got pregnant 🙂
- Understand that sometimes I just don’t feel good. There may be days when I seem sad or distant. I might just be in physical pain. Know that it’s nothing against you or whatever activity you’ve invited me to – it’s just my body being uncooperative. Thanks for understanding.
Why share this?
Again, I share this with you for the sake of honesty and transparency. This is a big part of our life and journey right now, and we want to be real about it. I also hope God will give me opportunities to help and encourage other women who may be dealing with similar problems. Even though it’s scary to click publish on this… “I will be brave with my story so others can be brave with theirs.”
(And if you read all the way to here, thanks for sticking with me!)