My excessive weight gain and irregular periods were finally starting to make sense.
Growing up I never made an effort to make note of my cycles, I always had painful cramps but after I turned eighteen they seemed to get worse. After some friendly advice from my mother, I begun recording my cycles. This started back in 2012 and every month I’d make a note on my phone. Soon I noticed that my periods were very irregular, with cycles that lasted over 60 days. This inconsistency caused me to be emotionally broken at times and the pain was unbearable the months I did menstruate.
For as long as I could remember I struggled with my weight, I didn’t eat much yet gained weight rapidly. During my teens I got to a size 18 UK, I was conscious of my size and felt a sense of shame. Being in secondary school during this time was also very difficult as there were constant reminders, by other students who called me names. It got to a point that I became so conscious that I would not eat in front of others and eventually I stopped eating completely. In the years that followed I basically starved myself but labelled it dieting.
Although it is the worst thing to do to your body, I did shred some weight but my self esteem did not change, the way I saw myself didn’t shift. I only wore hoodies and very loose clothing to hide my disproportionate frame. It took many years of self affirmations to get to a point of self love and self worth within myself. Yet I never knew why I’d work so hard to keep the weight off but still end up gaining unwanted pounds.
Now lets fast forward to 2014, I am 23 and have been married for a year. Although having children was not a priority at that stage, I was somewhat surprised that I didn’t conceive yet. I was still recording and monitoring my periods, however the older I got the more my premenstrual symptoms felt like early pregnancy symptoms. This caused me to start taking pregnancy tests when my cycle exceeded 40 days but I would always get a negative result.
Here is where my research journey started, I begun googling what causes irregular periods and came across poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
According to the NHS website some common symptoms were
- Irregular periods or no periods
- Fertility issues (due to irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate)
- Excessive hair growth
- Weight gain
- Thinning hair and hair loss
- Oily skin or acne
At this point I was married for three years,during those years people would constantly ask me why I didn’t have a child, if I was preventing myself from getting pregnant etc. These comments bothered me much more than I expressed but one day I decided to start writing poems and posting them on my various social media platforms. All these questions that are very personal, yet asked so frequently, made me question myself and if I was normal and why my body was failing me.
It was during this time, that I realised the importance of sharing individual experiences. By simply having the courage to post my true feelings online, it opened the gates to a pool of responses from women all over the world. Women who felt the same way but didn’t know how to express themselves, it was the impact my poems had that has me writing this now. It is to show other women that they aren’t alone in their feelings and despite pcos being a topic not openly discussed in many cultures there are other women silently suffering in the same way.
After this boost of confidence from other women, I was finally ready to go to the fertility clinic we were referred to by our local doctor. The fertility doctor was very blunt and to the point, she told me that for my height I was considered obese. In order for her to go ahead and start the treatment I would need to lose a lot of weight. From 2013 until 2016 I gained most of my teenage weight back, I was upset at myself for letting go and not staying conscious about my eating habits.
So here I was again on a diet I didn’t want to be doing. For the first two weeks I was moody, aggressive and tired of eating salads. In the end it all paid off and I lost around 10kg before my follow up appointment. I remember the feeling of pride walking into the appointment knowing that I had achieved my goal, the doctor didn’t even weigh me because she saw the difference with her eyes.
This is when my fertility treatment started, she told us that we would have six rounds of Clomid (a tablet used to stimulate ovulation). Once my period comes I was told to start taking the tablets for five days. I was told to come back for a scan to check I had formed good eggs, then to monitor my ovulation using the ovulation test kit, which is a similar concept to pregnancy test.
The doctor was very supportive and gave us many different options during our first appointment, which gave us hope because we didn’t know how long the road would be. Two weeks after my scan, we found out that we were expecting. We were very excited but I was equally anxious because I was terrified about miscarriage. Seven months into my pregnancy I didn’t gain weight, I had almost no morning sickness and besides the random cravings I was eating the same amounts. Months eight and nine however changed everything I had back to back infections, headaches that caused vomiting and sciatica. I gained back the 10kg that was lost and the last month felt like years.
My daughter has just entered the terrible twos and I have yet to go back to the weight I was before pregnancy. I have started enjoying the gym, but not only with the aim of loosing weight, it makes me feel better. I have changed my mind set from dieting to just portion control which honestly has had a positive impact on me mentally. I have come to terms that I will always have to be mindful of my weight and finally being diagnosed has helped me understand my body better. I never understood why speaking about such things is taboo in some cultures but it’s definitely time to break the cycle and create a supporting environment for all women. Polycystic ovary syndrome is much more common than we assume.
For all those women who also have this remember, we are more than our wombs, we are strong, beautiful and exceptional queens.