Poly and Me: A Personal Account of Living with PCOS
No matter how faithful I was to the many strict, low-fat diets I tried, I didn't lose weight. Several of the diets even made me gain weight. I tried to exercise, but by the middle of the day I was too tired to move, and my commute to work meant that a morning workout would have been insanely early. Not that I had the energy to get up and do it then anyway. I was caught in a frustrating cycle: Doctors told me I was tired because I wasn't exercising, but I struggled with exercise because I was so tired from insulin overload. After all those wasted years, I learned that those low-fat diets were exactly wrong for me. Low fat foods often mean a high carbohydrate diet—a very bad choice for someone who's insulin resistant.
After six years of no progress, I had finally given up hope. I was going to turn 30 in 1999 and was suffering from yet another missing period, somewhere in the 65-day late range. Two home pregnancy tests and a test from our new family doctor were all negative. My physician referred me to a gynecologist and so I found a new one, picked solely because she was near my office and had a lunch appointment available. She turned out to be the best I could have asked for. I went in, she listened to my story.
My new doctor said that she thought I was suffering from a hormone imbalance and she'd write me a prescription for Provera to induce a period. Of course she couldn't give that to me until she had a negative pregnancy test result, so I peed in the cup, and they drew blood. As she went ahead with a routine exam, she said that she actually suspected she knew why I was having problems and would explain in detail after the exam. Moments later, a nurse came in, whispered to the doctor, and then smiled at me. It turned out that I was pregnant!
It also turns out that my doctor was not mistaken about her suspicion that I had PCOS. Because of the pregnancy, she assumed that was incorrect, and I was not formally diagnosed until my daughter was a year old.
My doctor and I had great hope that now that I was diagnosed, being treated, and had already proven that I could conceive and carry to term, getting pregnant a second time would be much easier. No such luck. I am on year three. I have responded to the metformin in that I have more energy and have lost some weight. I did not respond to the metformin/Clomid mix which helps so many PCOS women.
This current time of trying to conceive is, in some ways, more frustrating than the first. I chart my basal body temperatures and cervical mucus because I discovered that ovulation predictor kits often do not work for PCOS women because we have odd hormone surges that throw the predictors off. I know my body better now than I believed possible, and I guess that's a good thing. I know that having a period does not necessarily mean I have ovulated, and that I never spontaneously ovulate on cycle day fourteen, which is considered the ideal. When I do ovulate, it's usually later in my cycle.