Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) (June, 2018)
At the end of June 2018, I was diagnosed with borderline Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS. PCOS is a hormonal condition which is due to partially formed follicles on the ovaries which cause infertility. This is due to insulin resistant.
Insulin normally binds to the cell and allows glucose to enter and convert into energy, delivers this energy to the mitochondria and ensure that blood sugar levels are even. Insulin resistance prevents the hormone from functioning properly and causes an imbalance in the endocrine system (1).
Typically, females with PCOS have irregular menstrual cycles or no periods, excessive facial or body hair growth, acne, scalp hair loss, reduced fertility, mood changes including anxiety and depression, obesity and sleep apnoea. You don’t have to have all these symptoms to have PCOS (1).
Although I have regular menstrual cycles, my cycle ranges from 28 – 37 days with 5 – 7 day periods and severe mood changes with spells of depression. It explains a lot. I had an initial blood test done to determine if I was ovulating. My FSH levels were low and LH levels were high and I was referred to get a pelvic exam. My second one in three years. My first pelvic exam showed no signs of PCOS (March 2015) and my recent test identified PCOS (June 2018) with an enlarged right ovary.
My pelvic ultrasound showed that my right ovary is 9.22cc and contains approximately fifteen small peripheral follicles seen up to 9mm and my left ovary is 4cc with eight small follicles up to 7mm – I was at the end of my cycle. To have PCOS, one or both ovaries have more than twelve small peripheral follicles arranges in a pearl necklace type of pattern (3). Compared to my results in 2015, my right ovary measured 7.4cc with five small peripheral follicles and my left ovary 3.6cc with ten small peripheral follicles – I had my period during this pelvic exam.
PCOS is a long-term condition which can be managed. Management strategies include lifestyle modifications, weight reduction and medical treatment and this can help restore normal hormone production and reduce the development of type 2 diabetes (1), which I have a high risk of developing anyways.
The reason why my symptoms did not show previously is due to being on the contraceptive pill.
Vitamins, Medication & Tea
I am slowly but surely substituting my morning organic breakfast tea with Tamborine’s “wellbeing” green tea and preparing my body for the journey ahead with Blackmores Pregnancy vitamins. To manage my insulin resistance, my GP prescribed Metfromin (1000mg to be taken at night before bed).
Dietitian & Nutritionist
PCOS is a complex and overlooked condition with significant long-term metabolic risk factors. Since diet and lifestyle are the primary treatments, dietitians and nutritionists play important role in helping you manage and optimise your reproductive health.
I visited Samantha Ashe from Feed & Flourish Nutrition at Yarrabilba’s South East Skin clinic. She was really informative and had an understanding of PCOS and the diet associated with the syndrome.
She explained that insulin is a hormone that is released when carbohydrate foods or drinks are consumed and how our pancreas release the insulin. She elaborated that women with PCOS produce more and more insulin to try and compensate and that our ovaries appear to be very sensitive to higher levels of this hormone and stimulate the ovaries to produce more androgen hormones than normal.
Lifestar suggests that the key to controlling insulin levels and therefore symptoms in PCOS is to watch the amount, type and timing of carbohydrate foods to minimize the release of insulin.
- Amount: 3 serves per day
- Type: Glycemic index or GI measures the rate at which the carbohydrate in food is absorbed in the blood. Low GI foods are absorbed more slowly and do not cause the blood sugar to rise as rapidly, meaning less insulin is required (soy, linseed, sourdough bread, oats, pasta and legumes).
- Timing: The right time to eat the carbohydrates
Other important aspects:
- Type of fat: nuts, seeds and avocado and oils such as olive oil and rice bran oil
- Total calories: 1,300 per day
- Nutrient dense: rich in vitamins and minerals
- Gluten-free diet (absence of wheat)
- FULL CREAM MILK!
Recommended diet: reduced carbohydrate, high protein, high healthy fats diet
* I can’t do the Keto or intermittent fasting as it would increase my changes of becoming hypoglycaemic.
As PCOS can cause emotional and physical distress due to the hormonal imbalance, it is really important to start tracking my diet and exercise. I have continued my research on a PCOS diet and educating myself to which foods I can and cannot consume.
Research suggests following a low GI (glycaemic index) diet is a way to monitor how quickly glucose rises after eating carbohydrates as it cause blood levels to rise slowly and balance insulin levels (4). A high-fiber foods can help combat insulin resistance by slowing down digestion and reducing the impact of sugar on the blood (5).
Foods rich in fiber, whole foods, healthy fats, lean meat (grass-fed) and anti-inflammatory foods and spices are best, avoiding refined foods, sugars and saturated fats and dairy – which is going to be the hardest thing for me.
Following the format above, it will allow me to identify which foods benefits my emotional and physical state or diminishes my emotional and physical state.
With this, I need to start getting myself and my body into a good routine. I spend some time setting up my alarms with realistic and achievable times.
- Wake up: 5:25am
- Get ready for treadmill: 5:55am
- Exercise: 6:00am (for 30min)
- Breakfast: 6:35am
- Get ready for work after breakfast.
- Lunch (if can): 12:00pm
- Dinner: 5:30pm
- Treadmill: 6:30pm
Hopefully this works!
BMI & Waist Measurement
Great, so my waist circumference is 88cm which coincides with my BMI being 29 = I am overweight. According to this measurement, my optimum weight would be 56.95kg (21.3 BMI) and a waist circumference below 80cm. Great! I need to loose 18.95kg to be in the “healthy” range. Yay for HIIT training!
Shopping List & Health Recipes
A traditional shopping list provides many benefits such as time and money saving. Some health benefits are associated with creating a shopping list. This includes evaluating the type of foods that are consumed in the household. Researching healthy recipes will help you stay countable and minimise waste and double-up purchases.
Our main priority is to purchase food which would improve the symptoms of PCOS and follow the example meal plan set out by my dietitian. Generally, we will only purchase food that we need and never overstock our pantry. This helps us reduce waste.
Since publishing this blog post on FB, I have received wonderful messages from my friends and family and I am very appreciative to those that read the post. I will be taking all of your suggestions to my GP, dietitian and OBGYN the next time I see them. I do believe knowledge is power and I am blessed with the support I have received since publishing this post on our FB page. Thank you all so much xx
Ectopic Pregnancy (November 19, 2018)
Ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes, which means the embryo will not be able to develop into a baby as the fallopian tube is not large enough to support the growing embryo. An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition which can cause severe internal bleeding when the tube ruptures. Signs of a ruptured fallopian tube includes sudden, severe, sharp pain; feeling faint and dizzy; feeling nauseous or vomiting; diarrhoea and shoulder tip pain (6).
I had an ectopic pregnancy at 4 weeks. I lost my right fallopian tube, 1 litre of blood and my pregnancy. My souvenir, 2 scars on my stomach and an interesting looking belly button. Although my bruises might heal and my scars will fade, knowing that we created something, as short lived as it was, was amazing. 3 Clomid cycles it took for this to happen and its just sad that we weren’t able to see this pregnancy through. As they say, it wasn’t meant to be.
IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation)
- Dark Skin Patches or Acanthosis Nigricans and PCOS. (2018). Retrieved from https://pcos.com/dark-skin-patches-or-acanthosis-nigricans-and-pcos/
- PCOS. (2018). Retrieved from https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/pcos
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Symptoms & Treatments – WHRIA. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.whria.com.au/for-patients/hormones/polycystic-ovarian-syndrome/
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome | PCOS Diet – Nutritionist Resource. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/articles/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html#apcosdiet
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Diet Do’s and Dont’s. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/pcos-diet#foods-to-add
- Pregnancy, Birth & Baby | Ectopic Pregnancy (2018). Retrieved from https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/ectopic-pregnancy