The Diagnosis: PCOS

In 2013 my husband and I got married and I had decided to begin birth control because we decided to wait to have children. We were young (19 and 21 at the time), just getting married, and living with someone else for the first time. There were a lot of adjustments to be made and we felt like we had plenty of time to worry about starting a family. Shortly after we got married however, I began having problems like pain during my cycles that was not like the “usual cramps” I had previously been having, pain in between cycles, my cycles were becoming irregular, and I developed several small cysts. I had some ultrasounds done by my primary care physician whom referred me to my gynecologist whom also took her own ultrasounds. Same thing was determined, several of small cysts were found and no explanation could be given for my pain other than it seemed like the birth control had made my hormones a little wacky. As a result, we were advised to begin natural family planning. We did all the research we possibly could and began using this method as our birth control until we wanted to start a family.

Around Thanksgiving of 2014, my husband and I decided to stop trying to prevent pregnancy and just “let things happen”. Since we were utilizing natural family planning, it was the kind of decision where we didn’t have to wait for medicine to get out of our system and there was no family history for either of us with  for any kind of fertility problems. We assumed we would be pregnant within a few months.

By the time January of 2015 came around, we decided to really start trying. Due to our history of natural family planning, we knew there was a time frame where I was most fertile and we tried to make sure that we always got that week in. During this time, however, my cycles were becoming even more inconsistent and painful. In July of 2015, we went back to my gynecologist and she determined based on my cycles that I was not ovulating. She assured me there was no reason to worry and gave me something to help with my pain. The only new advice she offered was for us to begin keeping records of symptoms, what side hurt when I was having my pain, to take ovulation tests and record when we had sex. So, that’s what we did. We got our first taste of fertility tracking from July 2015 to November 2015. In November of 2015, I found an app called Ovia that really helped me to learn more about fertility tracking and the things that I needed to keep track of. I began keeping everything on the app and paper copy at home for doctor appointments.

By November of 2015, the pain was becoming nearly unbearable each month and we had not had any positive ovulation test. During this month I saw my primary care physician and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. With this diagnosis, he was more convinced that my diabetes was accompanied by PCOS and that explained the cysts that I had been struggling with since 2013. We made an appointment for February of 2016 with my gynecologist to see if we could get some answers. In February, we had a progesterone test done that confirmed I had not ovulated (my level was a measly 1.46 on cycle day 21). In regards to my pain, it had gotten bad enough to interfere with work and was growing increasingly worse and worse. My doctor at the time advised for us to keep taking notes and everything should work out. My husband and I discussed it and decided that our best option would be to change doctors- it was obvious something wasn’t right. At my first appointment in April, I took ultrasounds going back to 2013, blood work results, my charts or when my cycles were occurring, detailed lists of the pain I was experiencing, logs of ovulation tests, and doctor visit reports. At that appointment, everything changed. We knew there was a problem, we had been trying for over a year, are young, are getting negative ovulation tests, my cycles were getting worse and worse and we still didn’t have a baby! The doctor I got sat in that room with me for nearly two hours going over everything I had brought and truly listening to me. The relief myself and my husband felt was overwhelming. We thought we would finally be able to start our family.

Little did we know, not ovulating wasn’t a simple problem to fix. It was in April of 2015 that we got bombarded with the medical side of trying to have a baby and the complications that can arise. My primary care physician had thought that I may have PCOS and my new gynecologist thought that I may have either PCOS, endometriosis, or both. He ordered his own tests and then in May we decided to go through with a D&C, laproscopy to check for endometriosis, and a  hysteroscopy all set for June. He advised that this combination would give us approximately 9 months of a window where I should ovulate regularly and be able to conceive our first child. While waiting for surgery, we began to research what exactly it meant to have PCOS.

My next post will be in regards to how I felt about my diagnosis. Stay tuned!

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