So, I said on Wednesday that I don’t have it in me right now to blog about PCOS. But I guess I was wrong about that. I also said I was having a bit of an identity crisis, and apparently I was right about that, since I don’t know what I want, or what I’m going to write about from one day to the next!
Thanks for being patient and hanging in there with me.
It’s September. September is PCOS Awareness Month. I have to blog about PCOS at least once this month, right? So a list post is in order. This list is for anyone with PCOS, newly diagnosed, not officially diagnosed yet, or maybe even for those of you who’ve had PCOS for years.
I find that I have months when I’m on my “A game” in terms of mine and my family’s health, and then I also go through seasons when I just feel tired and over it. For those seasons, scrounging up tid-bits like what I’ve included in this post help me climb back on the wagon and keep going. I hope you find that these helps do the same for you.
- Ask questions- Ask your healthcare provider any and all questions you can think of.
- Believe- Believe that this can be the start of something good. You’ve begun to identify the problem, so now the healing process can begin.
- Cultivate- Cultivate relationships not only with you doctor(s), but also with other people in the PCOS community. There are support groups and resources out there that can be great encouragements for you. Find your niche in either an online group or a local PCOS community. The relationships you cultivate while fighting PCOS can be life-changing, in the best ways. And even more importantly than this, cultivate your relationship with Christ, who is our ultimate healer and sustainer.
- Develop- Develop a healthy relationship with food. Figure out an eating lifestyle that makes you feel your absolute best. What makes you feel your best may not be what makes someone else with PCOS feel their best. Everyone’s bodies are different, so this can be really tricky, but it is crucial to managing PCOS symptoms. For some good, general guidelines, you may want to read this post.
- Establish an exercise routine- Establish a routine that works for you. Again, this can be different for everyone. If you need some direction as to where to start, this post might be helpful.
- Find a doctor- Find a doctor that is a good fit for you. This took me a long time, but I’m so glad I didn’t settle. The doctor I did eventually find is the best.
- Go with your gut- While searching for the best doctor for you, go with your gut. With our first two doctors, I just didn’t have a good feeling about them. They didn’t do or say anything wrong; there was just something missing. You know your body better than anyone, and you’re a smart cookie, so go with your gut always. Also go with your gut when you eat. Pay attention to how different foods impact your digestion. And finally, go with you gut when/if you begin considering fertility treatments. Use discretion and don’t let yourself get pressured into anything you don’t have a peace about.
- Help others- It is all too easy to get so caught up in your own struggles that you forget that other people have their own struggles also. Any time we reach out to someone else, we gain so much. We are all broken and hurting in some way. And as strange as it sounds, remembering this can be very redemptive, and it can help you give grace to those around you.
- Ignore- Ignore the stereotypes associated with PCOS. You may not be overweight (though many women with PCOS are.) You may not be struggling with infertility (though many women with PCOS do.) Identify your symptoms and work on addressing those.
- Join others in prayer- This could mean attending healing prayer services, or it could mean getting on your face before God with your husband each day. Never limit God, and never forget the power of prayer. It is a power unmatched by any doctor, any scientific research, or any scientific intervention.
- Know your limits- If you’re battling infertility, and don’t think you can handle going to a friend’s baby shower, don’t go. If you recently experienced a miscarriage and don’t think you can hold it together at your sister-in-law’s gender reveal party, don’t go. Set boundaries. Do this out of love and respect for yourself, and also love and respect for others in your life.
- Learn to listen to your body- Our bodies tell us a lot when we are paying attention. Pay attention to the way you feel after you eat certain foods. Pay attention to the way you feel after you do certain kinds of exercises. Pay attention to the way you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.
- Meal Prep- Diet is incredibly important for any woman with PCOS, even if you aren’t overweight. The only way you are going to develop healthy eating habits is if you are surrounded by healthy, ready-to-eat foods.
- Never overlook the small things- Celebrate even the smallest of victories. Enjoying those tiny victories will keep you motivated to stay the course.
- Open yourself up to others- If you’re walking the road of infertility, find a support group and open up to them. If you can’t handle attending your friend’s baby shower, consider explaining to her why. If you’re struggling with uncontrollable weight gain, or hair falling out faster than you can unclog the shower drain, be open about those things.
- Practice makes perfect- Maybe not completely, but the more you practice healthy choices, the more natural they will become. Start with small changes, and work your way up. Your body, mind, and fertility will thank you for it.
- Quit being so hard on yourself- If you have a day when you eat horribly, or have a week when you don’t exercise at all, remember that you get a fresh start tomorrow, and embrace that. Making long-lasting lifestyle changes is hard and takes time, and learning to not only cope, but to thrive with a newly diagnosed illness is tough. Give yourself a little grace.
- Research- Read stories of other women who have PCOS. If you begin to find this overwhelming, just choose a few PCOS-centered blogs to follow, or pick a few books to read. I love The Fertility Diet and The PCOS Diet Plan for anyone new to navigating through PCOS.
- Supplement- You’ll want to do some research and figure out which supplements are right for you. I recommend a prenatal vitamin, antioxidants, Magnesium supplement, CoQ10, and L-arginine. For info on why, check out this post. Depending on your goals, you might also want to try Glucorein HOP. (Use discount code GREAT)
- Tea instead of coffee- Many teas possess healing properties that coffee lacks, so if you do drink multiple cups of coffee per day, start replacing at least one cup with a cup of hot tea instead. If you’re looking to regulate your cycles and/or prepare your body for conception, you might try this tea, from FairHaven Health.If you absolutely can’t part with your coffee, switch to decaf. It is best for women with PCOS to avoid caffeine altogether.
- Understand insulin resistance- Most women with PCOS have insulin resistance. Understanding insulin resistance, and the negative impact it has on your fertility and overall health will help you understand the importance of choosing low GI foods. Here is a short, easy read from Jillian Michaels that explains insulin resistance.
- Visit a chiropractor- I get adjusted regularly, and so does my daughter. A good chiropractor can remove subluxations (nerve interferences) that are interrupting or inhibiting normal functions of the body. Chiropractic care may not single-handedly get you pregnant. It won’t magically heal your male-pattern baldness, or make those extra 30 pounds disappear, but it will help your body function more optimally. The keys to success here are to be consistent and patient, and to choose the right chiropractor for you. Different chiropractors use different techniques and methods, so it’s important to find one that is a good fit for you. For one woman’s experience with seeing a chiropractor for PCOS, click here.
- Watch your carbs- Even though there is no “one-size-fits-all” diet for PCOS, it it crucial that all of us get most of our carbs from veggies and fruits, rather than from grains and processed, sugary foods. Here are our PCOS-appropriate pantry staples. And here’s a post I wrote just 10 days into my grain-free diet.
- eXamine your heart- Battling a syndrome like PCOS can seem defeating at times. Check your heart regularly, to be sure that no bitter root is growing there (Hebrews 12:15.) If your body is whole, but your heart isn’t right, it’s all for naught. I’ve learned that there are so many positives that come along with PCOS. When you find yourself feeling angry, bitter, unwomanly, or frustrated, find something to be thankful for. There is always so much to be thankful for.
- Yearly checkup- If you aren’t actively trying to conceive, it is easy to let years go by without even a simple checkup with your healthcare provider. Be sure to see both your gynecologist and your general practitioner yearly. Make sure you have your GP check your blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Many women with PCOS have elevated triglycerides and low HDL. (HDL is the “good” cholesterol.)
- Zero in on one issue at a time- Focus on one small thing you know you need to change. Once that change has become routine, then move on with the next thing. You are literally re-building your lifestyle. This cannot be done overnight. Settle in for the long-haul, and be patient with yourself. I’m learning more every single day, and the whole process can be really fun if you let it!
PCOS will never define you. Your identity is in Jesus Christ Your value, your peace, and your purpose come from Him alone. Wholeness comes only through Him. But if you want to overcome PCOS, and live with it victoriously, it is important to be educated about its symptoms. It is important to understand your body, to listen to it, and to treat it well. Our bodies belong to God, and have been purchased at a great price; therefore, let us honor God by being kind to our bodies.
“Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who comes from God and dwells inside of you? You do not own yourself. You have been purchased at a great price, so use your body to bring glory to God.”
-1 Corinthians 6:19-20, The Voice translation
If you’re unsure whether or not you have PCOS, read this post for more details about what PCOS is, what the symptoms are, and how to manage them day to day. If you have any other questions, or if you just need a listening ear, please feel free to contact me. If you have questions I can’t answer, I may be able to put you in touch with someone who can. You aren’t alone in this. Quite the opposite actually: You are surrounded by a group of wonderful, supportive, strong women who would be honored to lift you up in prayer and walk with you through this journey.