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The PCOS Newsletter is a weekly publication answering one PCOS question at the time so we can be empowered by knowledge.

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My top learnings from 10 years with PCOS

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

Hi there,


This week’s newsletter is slightly different. I emailed a reader of this newsletter, Michelle, after seeing her story on PCOS. She has kindly asked me to share my own story and do a guest post on her page to answer the following question:


This week’s question:

What did you learn from 10 years with PCOS?

The answer

As a teenager, I had an irregular menstrual cycle, which was considered normal for my age. However, by the time I turned 19, things hadn’t improved. This is when I started visiting gynaecologists regularly. My periods remained irregular, and I had cysts on my ovaries, which are common symptoms of PCOS (I wish I had read this guide on PCOS Diagnosis 10 years ago). Despite these signs, no one mentioned a possible diagnosis to me. Instead, I was prescribed birth control pills, which I took for a year. I innocently believed that the pill would ‘cure’ what was happening.


This is where my journey to a confusing relationship with my body began. Stopping the contraceptive pill brought terrible acne and weight gain. I felt very powerless in the face of these symptoms and somewhat estranged from my own body. I knew things weren’t right, and felt like my body was rebelling against me. Putting on weight as a woman in her 20s was probably the thing that bothered me the most, as that is the age when you are meant to feel attractive.


Feeling powerless led to a journey of self-discovery. I saw countless doctors and read countless papers. After a few years, I was referred to a college where students were practising to qualify as nutritionists and herbalists. After a consultation, I was given a mix of herbs with a nutrition plan. Following this for more than a year restored my periods and cleared my acne. This is the college that I later graduated from.


As I felt better, I knew that my purpose in life was in the midst of this experience. I know this might sound cheesy, but I am at my happiest when I read about the wonders of our bodies and I am able to understand myself and help others do the same.

In feeling powerless, I found power in knowledge, and made it my mission to offer that power back to others.

10 years later, I graduated as a Nutritional Therapist, my second educational qualification. I work full-time in health tech and write about our bodies.


These are my top learnings from 10 years with PCOS

  1. ⏳ Take the time to understand your body Given this condition is unknown, each woman experiences it slightly differently. For me, getting to know how my body works, what I feel at each stage of the cycle, what supplements work for me, etc., has been game-changing. It can feel frightening to be in the unknown when these symptoms are hitting you from every angle. This is when we need to persevere in asking for help, researching, and learning day by day.

  2. ❤️ Love your body I was initially upset: Why is this happening to me? I also felt guilty that I might have done something to deserve this. However, over time, I realised that my body is not my enemy but my friend. My body is working hard to get back to its balance, to be healthy, I just need to give it the right raw materials so it can do that.

  3. 🎉 Celebrate your period All my friends dread getting their period, while I celebrate it. I think a lot of women with PCOS would relate to this, but having it makes me grateful that my body is working correctly and that I am healthy.

  4. 🧠 Eat for Nutrients, Not Energy Before I studied nutrition, I was caught up in the low-carb, keto, and paleo diets. In retrospect, it's sad to see how we reduce food to such generic terms. Food is a source of nourishment, with each vegetable containing thousands of different micronutrients, each of which has a role in the body. I now eat to be nourished, to promote the well-functioning of my body, and to give it all the raw materials it needs to be healthy and balanced. As a result, I ensure I consume all three macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) in a balanced way and focus on getting as many vegetables, seeds, and nuts into my diet as possible. I also aim for more than 30g of fibre and include fermented food in my diet to keep my gut healthy.

  5. 💊 Find the right supplements for you I've tried a few but found the perfect combination that works for my body: magnesium, omega-6, chromium, and myo-inositol. After a genetic test, I found that my body naturally needs higher amounts of magnesium and omega-6 which explains part of the reason why I have PCOS but also why they work so well.

  6. 🏋🏼‍♂️ Movement is Medicine I used to work out to lose weight and was demotivated when that didn't happen. Over the past few years, I've had to shift my perspective. I've found forms of movement that I genuinely enjoy and see it as part of what makes my body happy and strong. I view movement as a way to experience life to the fullest.

Lastly, I want to add one more thought. This all seems like a lot of work, but even without PCOS, these are all things we need to do anyway. I see my diagnosis as an opportunity to give my body the best treatment for a long and fulfilling life. I listen to my body and quickly make changes when it tells me it's not being treated well.


I hope this has resonated with you to a certain degree. What is your story? Hit reply to this email and let’s connect.


You can also read Michelle’s story here and subscribe to her lovely page which is all about wellness, food and self-discovery here.


See you next Sunday,

Francesca

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