Reversing PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) has been a life long goal of mine. Actually, maybe it wasn’t a goal of mine until a couple of years ago. It was more like a plague of mine. I felt that I could only HOPE that my symptoms would improve. In reality, on the inside I felt like they never would. I felt that I would be “different” than other women because of my PCOS diagnosis (at age 17 years old). Do you know what actually caused me to feel this way? A doctor who diagnosed me but never explained to me how or what I could do to change it. To me, at the age of 17, that basically meant that there was nothing to do about it.
Now, in all fairness I did have other doctors in my life who told me that I “just needed to lose weight.” To most readers, you’re probably nodding and to those with PCOS you’re shaking your head and saying, “They don’t have a clue what they are suggesting.”
For those of you who do not know what PCOS is–in my terms–it is a condition in which a woman’s ovaries begin to form cysts over the eggs in her ovaries. These cysts have been referenced by doctors as looking like a “strand of pearls” on a sonogram. I wouldn’t know because even though I was diagnosed at the age 17, I had never had a sonogram to check my ovaries (even though all GYN docs new my diagnosis) until months before I learned I was pregnant with my son (my only child–born one month shy of my 40th birthday).
This condition is actually brought on as a result of an overproduction of insulin, and no, it doesn’t mean that the person is or will be diabetic. I know. Very confusing. It is very common for the woman to become insulin resistant which leads to a vicious cycle of the pancreas producing insulin, causing problems for the ovaries, which leads to hormonal problems that cause bothersome symptoms that aren’t all that serious, while some are heartbreaking. Some of the symptoms really hit a woman’s self-esteem like hirsutism, weight gain and difficulty losing weight even when using all the right measures, and infertility to name a few.
I feel that if my doctor had explained to me how this condition would change my life if I allowed it to, and explained to me how to reverse it, I HOPE that I would have done something to prevent all of the years of self-hate as a result of my symptoms. I guess the doctor that did tell me I needed to lose weight was closer than anyone else in getting me headed in the right direction. While the message was short, curt, and not well received, I see now that he was right. I should have listened to what he was trying to tell me, instead of responding emotionally to his words.
When he said, “you just need to lose weight,” I heard, “you’re a fat pig now do something about it.” In reality, what he was trying to communicate when he said “you just need to lose weight” was REALLY “you just need to lose weight–that’s all you need to do to FIX IT.” Back then they didn’t know all that they do about PCOS now, so I’m sure they were not aware of just how difficult it is to lose weight. It means you have to eat fewer calories than most people and you have to workout harder for the effort to burn the same amount as others do. It means it may take longer to get pregnant, and for some, it may mean never conceiving a child.
Will losing weight reverse PCOS? Honestly, I don’t believe that solely losing weight would lead to the complete reversal of PCOS. I do believe that it could minimize the symptoms. I think that life in general would be overwhelmingly better regardless, but being you ideal body weight doesn’t guarantee that you will never suffer with this problem. I know women who are very thin who have PCOS and had to have assistance conceiving children. Is it easier to live life with PCOS if you’re thinner? I can’t say because I have never been there, but I can say that common sense tells me that the healthier I am the better I will feel, the more productive I will be, and the more I will enjoy life–if spite of PCOS.
For those up for the challenge of trying to reverse PCOS, I highly recommend the book “It Starts With Food” and following the Whole30 program. I even suggest adopting the majority of that program for your life, permanently. It helped me get my hormones straightened out. I’m happy to talk to anyone who suffers with PCOS. I have researched most of my adult life on this topic. I understand your frustration and pain. I’ve cried many tears over it. I feel confident in saying, I believe those days of crying are now over.