From the age of 18 I took the contraceptive pill on and off, which really didn’t cause me any problems or raise alarm bells until a few years ago when I started to get continual spotting, no matter what brand I tried. This forced me to reconsider my options and the best option I felt for my own health and wellbeing was to stop taking the contraceptive pill.
This is when my Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) came to light… Months and months passed without my menstrual cycle recommencing. I went to numerous doctors and was told this was quite normal and that it could take up to a year to return. This really sent alarm bells ringing in my head!!! How much damage could a little pill really have done to my reproductive systems or was there some underlying problem? I decided to investigate further as having kids was definitely something I wanted and I didn’t want to risk missing out. After visiting my GP and specialist, I was diagnosed with PCOS.
It has been estimated that 30% of infertile women suffer from PCOS.
For those of you that suffer from PCOS, you will know that it is quite a complex problem and one that at time seems incredibly hard to manage. After I found out that I had PCOS, over the course of a year and a half I would have been lucky to have two or three periods at the most… After exhausting the traditional avenues of doctors and specialists, I decided to take a more natural approach which turned out to be very successful for me.
So What is PCOS Exactly?
The exact causes of PCOS are unknown but are thought to be both hereditary and lifestyle related. PCOS sufferers might experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Irregular, heavy or no periods
Most PCOS sufferers start menstruating at a normal age but periods become irregular and can disappear completely over time. This symptom is masked in women on the pill because they still get a monthly ‘withdrawal’ bleed.
- Excess weight, particularly around the tummy area
Women with PCOS tend to have an ‘apple’ body shape which is associated with an increased risk of health problems. This is related to insulin resistance – where the body produces more insulin than is required, which then stimulates the body’s fat cells to make and store fat.
- Difficulty falling pregnant
PCOS sufferers ovulate irregularly and sometimes not at all, affecting fertility. It has also been suggested that PCOS sufferers who do fall pregnant might have a higher risk of miscarriage.
- Excess hair on the face and body (hirsutism)
High androgens levels can cause excess hair growth on the face, nipples, chest, thighs or stomach. Hirsutism can be distressing, affecting a woman’s self-esteem and body image.
This is also a result of excess androgens. It can be moderate to severe and may result in scarring. It can also cause frustration and embarrassment for women suffering from what might be considered an adolescent condition.
- Male pattern hair loss (alopecia)
Excess testosterone (a type of androgen) can lead to hair loss on the top of the head and the temples and affects approximately 10% of PCOS sufferers.
(Taken from PCOS)
My first avenue was to look at my diet which at this stage was what I considered fairly healthy, as I had ‘quit sugar” (read more about that here) so what I was consuming shouldn’t have been having an effect on my body. Don’t get me wrong, I still love cakes and chocolate and I’m definitely not perfect, which is why I choose to live by the 80/20 rule whereby I eat healthily most of the time and still allow myself to indulge occasionally.
With my diet in a good place, it was time to seek some help to get my cycle back on track… I was referred to Miranda Myles at Carlton Natural Health who is just the most beautiful, caring and understanding lady. I immediately felt comfortable in her care. Miranda started me off with a mixture of herbs and supplements which I took religiously, but after a couple of month I still hadn’t had a period. This is when she suggested I go back to my GP and have a series of blood test done to have a look at what was going on with my hormone levels. So off I went for the blood tests and waited patiently for the results.
When my doctor contacted me a few days later, she asked me to come in so she could explain the results. This is never a good feeling when a doctor asked you to come in rather than just giving you the results over the phone. My doctor proceeded to tell me that my hormone levels of oestrogen etc were so low they were almost non-existent. This was pretty sad news to hear…
At this point I wasn’t trying to get pregnant and having a child was probably still a few years down the track, however in light of this news it was recommended that my partner and I reconsider this as the chances of falling pregnant were slim and it could take a while. With this information, I went back to Miranda, who tweaked my herbs and supplements and suggested I commence weekly acupuncture session. Read more about acupuncture here. I have never before had acupuncture and was quite nervous about having needles stuck into me, but Miranda was so gentle and I couldn’t even tell most of the time that she had put one in.
After a couple of week I started to get period type symptoms, which I thought might be signs that something was happening. This was quite exciting. I continued having my weekly sessions and sure enough I got my first period in almost a year. Hallelujah acupuncture was actually working! I convinced myself that I was back on track… At this time Miranda went off on Maternity leave and I had trouble making regular appointments with the other naturopaths because of work commitments. Much to my disappointment my cycle didn’t continue as it should and I was left yet again not getting a period.
At the start of October, Miranda returned and I had my first treatment with her. A couple of weeks later I had some period/ovulation type symptoms, a little mild cramping and some spotting. I thought that this meant I was back on track and my cycle was coming back. After a few weeks later with nothing happening. I continued my weekly appointment with Miranda. For some reason I was so much more sensitive and the needles were a bit prickly.
Numerous negative pregnancy tests later, off I went to my GP to see what was going on and to get my hormone levels checked again. She sent me off for a blood test and an ultrasound which gave me the biggest surprise of my life. Inside my belly, was a teeny tiny little person and I was 6.5 weeks pregnant!
This was just the most amazing news to receive and my partner and I couldn’t and still can’t wipe the smile off our faces. I am now 24 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby that is growing very quickly. I believe that sticking to a sugar free diet and focusing on eating wholefoods, seeking help from a naturopath and being treated with herbal supplements and acupuncture was my recipe for success- not to mention my miracle worker Miranda Myles who I can’t thank enough.