I remember the day I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I’d had excruciating pain in my pelvis and wound up in the emergency room. On the off chance, a specialist happened to be doing rounds. He popped in just after I’d had an abdominal ultrasound performed. He uttered in a nonchalant manner, “You have PCOS.” He asked if I had any questions and left; he was gone as quickly as he came. I was 17.
I saw our family medical doctor and then a gynecologist. Their advice? Take the oral contraceptive pill and come back when I wanted to have children because PCOS is incurable and it will be difficult to have babies.
The next year, I moved out of home to attend a university. I gained around 45 pounds between March and November. Something was seriously wrong. I was accustomed to the lack of periods; I’d only had two. I had experienced spotty skin for a while, but it was getting worse. The excessive facial and body hair growth was embarrassing. At that stage, I didn’t realize there would be ample sprouting yet to come. Plus, energy slumps, mood swings, incredible difficult losing weight accompanied by a plummeting self-esteem and doctor judgement.
An endocrinologist told me to “eat less and move more” … without assessing my diet or my activity level. Maybe it was easier for him to be critical, to blame me, than to help with a condition he knew little about? Few health professionals knew much at that time. In fact, the number of times I had to explain what the acronym meant it became commonplace.
Over the course of years, I developed into a PCOS poster girl. I had no natural menstrual cycle for 15 years. My bedfellows included obesity, acne, fatigue, the seeming impossibility of weight loss, and an intense dislike for the physical woman I saw in the mirror. Worse of all, I didn’t overeat, I often played sport five times per week, and I could find only blame and disbelief from those who were meant to help. I felt hopelessly stuck in a body I didn’t adore.
Over time, I accumulated three health science degrees and years of clinical experience. This, combined with a fierce will; helped me recognize it was my life and my responsibility! While convention struggled to catch up, research ploughed ahead. From disparate fields across the globe came insights I would weave together. The pieces of the puzzle were often difficult to find but they left a trail I could follow. As I learned more, so did investigators, so I again extended my knowledge. This virtuous cycle tweaked my worldview and changed my life.
I discovered how to kill my cravings. I regained my energy, stopped the mood swings, and put the hot flushes to bed. I leared how to shed unwanted pounds. In total, I lost 60 pounds and kept it off. If I was to walk into a doctor’s office today, I would not fit the diagnosis…
PCOS is a diagnosis of exclusion and requires two or three of the following: an irregular menstrual cycle, high testosterone and polycystic ovaries. Where I once had all three, I now have none. But this was not achieved through surgery or medication.
In the mainstream, treatment has — for the most part — only switched from the pill to the pill and an insulin sensitizing medication. The aim is management, at best, not healing. Yet the latter is possible and indeed, preferable.
After I pieced together how to reverse my PCOS, I wrote my first book, Conquer Your PCOS Naturally. I understood how difficult this syndrome can be, I knew the frustration, and I was well aware that life could — and should — be different. I felt a responsibility to share this knowledge. It became an Amazon bestseller, which I believe is an indication of the need for evidence-based advice that actually works. Information that puts women back in control of their bodies and their future.
Now, after many years helping women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, I feel, in a strange way, grateful for this syndrome. It’s allowed me to deeply consider my health and mortality. To dive into my soul and rewrite my destiny. To be of service and, in a little way, lighten the load for other women with this syndrome. After all, it’s only together we can succeed. The world needs us, women, to stand up and become comfortable in our collective skin now more than ever. If we don’t, society and humanity will crumble. This is my humble contribution.
Dr Rebecca H.
Chiropractor and lifestyle expert
Author of Conquer Your PCOS Naturally
Access free PCOS resources at PCOSNaturalTreatments.com