Chronic Mum Club –  PCOS and Me

Guest post by Charlotte sharing her experience of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

My name is Charlotte and I’m the Mumma behind Mumblebees. I’m 26, wife to a tech nerd, mum to a sassy toddler and in the real world I work in a nursery (looking after other people’s children, not plants!). I don’t really have any spare time but in the snippets, I may get I enjoy knitting, reading and writing; whether it be social media rants, blog posts or a chapter of the novel I’ve been writing for about 10 years! As well as all of that I’m a woman, clearly, and being a woman comes with a whole range of its own joyous ups and downs. I have PCOS – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
‘What’s that?’ I hear you ask. It’s a condition that people are usually familiar with, but few people actually know what it entails. A forewarning: it isn’t pretty or fun.

A little bit of biology for you, to set the scene – I’m sure you’re aware but let’s go ahead anyway: each month during the monthly cycle one ovary releases an egg from the little pouch where it was slumbering, called a follicle. Sometimes, however, the eggs don’t release and therefore turn into cysts. These cysts are harmless and can go unnoticed or they can get large, become painful, rupture or need to be removed in surgery. See, fun!

Despite the name, not all women with PCOS will actually suffer with ovarian cysts. Crazy as it sounds.

Other main symptoms:

– irregular periods or no periods at all
– excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks (it’s getting pretty and fun now right?!)
– weight gain
– thinning hair and hair loss from the head (you get extra hair elsewhere though to make up for it so it’s fine!)
– oily skin or acne
And personally the one I think is the worst to deal with;
– difficulty getting pregnant as a result of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate – this is definitely something that took me a long time to come to terms with.

PCOS is common. It is thought to affect 1 in 5 women and is usually diagnosed during your late teens to twenties. Just the kind of stuff you want to be dealing with while you’re trying to find out who you are and where you fit into this big ol’ scary world.

I was 16 when I was diagnosed and put straight onto the pill to try and regulate my periods. I pretty much didn’t have any and if I did they were light as anything and lasted about two days – I seriously thought I was winning at life! Other than the period side of things, I haven’t had to deal with too many of the horrible symptoms: my hair does fall out a lot, but it’s much worse when I’m stressed and when I notice it, I tend to get it cut short which seems to help a lot.
My weight has always yoyo-ed and that could be down to my PCOS or it could be down to the fact I like cake and crisps a tad too much haha! Who knows? I’m lucky though that I don’t really have extra hair growth or bad skin. I do have polycystic ovaries though. They cause me pain when I do ovulate (which isn’t often) and sometimes when I exercise.

There have been four periods in my life now where my polycystic ovaries have been so bad I’ve been bedridden and on painkillers so strong I just sleep. The first time I was 17 and missed such a huge chunk of college I had to repeat the year.

The second time was in 2012, I’d just met my now husband and he was practically a nurse for me bless him! He didn’t even flinch when I had the 3rd STI kit done during my many trips into A&E – seriously, humiliating doesn’t cut it! They came back clear though, don’t judge! I had a horrible time with my place of work this time around. I looked ok from the outside (I worked in a pub and lived above with three other people, they saw plenty of me and decided I looked just fine.) and so that meant I was faking it. I was told I either returned to work – despite being signed off and awaiting the decision on whether I would need surgery or not – or would need to find somewhere else to work and live. Needless to say, I left.

The third one was after I miscarried my first child. Doctors think my PCOS could have been why. They don’t know for sure though. No one knows why these things happen. This coupled with the difficulty I have in conceiving meant that when Sophia came along; my rainbow baby, I cherished her all the more. My own little miracle.

The fourth one is now. I’m currently three weeks into one of the worst flare ups I’ve experienced because for the first time, I’ve had a cyst rupture.
It’s different this time because I can’t just sleep. I’m a Mum now. Mum’s come bottom of the pile, we just have to suck it up. It has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do because the pain I have been in is unreal. Plus where the cyst ruptured, I’ve been left with free fluid in my pelvis which is causing infection so my body is trying to fight the infection. Mainly this has just made me feel so nauseous I’ve been unable to eat whatsoever.

I’ve been in and out of hospital more times than I care to think about and felt so weak and honestly, just so unwell I can barely stand at times but I’ve made my daughter three meals a day, I’ve changed her nappy, I’ve sat on the floor and played with her. Then I’ve snuck off for a wee and cried my heart out in the bathroom because everything hurts and I feel like death.

So yeah, on the outside I look just fine. I don’t limp, I’m not missing a limb, I have all my senses. But that doesn’t mean I’m not struggling. Social media is very good at making everything look perfect but believe me, it often is not!
I try very hard to make sure I eat well and exercise gently as often as I can because those are the only ways in which I can help myself. I try and remain positive because what else can you do?! This is me! I can’t change it so may as well embrace it as best I can. I just hope to all and everything that Sophia doesn’t have the same issues when she grows up because PCOS can be hereditary.


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