There are two things about me that most people don’t know. First, I have PCOS and second, I required infertility treatments to get pregnant. I’ve shared a lot about my kids and my passion for health, so it may seem odd that I’ve never publicly talked about this before, but that’s because I was at odds with it.
If you don’t know what PCOS is, I’ll explain a little bit about it. It stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome and it is an endocrine disorder. In fact, it is one of the most common hormone imbalances among women of reproductive age. Though no one knows for sure what causes it – perhaps lifestyle factors, environmental factors, and a certain amount of genetic predisposition all play a role – but most of us with PCOS have some level of insulin resistance as well as extra androgens.
Insulin is a storage hormone; it transports glucose and other nutrients into the cells of the body. (Read more about insulin from one of my favorite sources, Precision Nutrition.) If the muscle cells are empty, they get filled first. Once those cells are full, insulin stores the rest of the nutrients in fat cells. When needed for energy, they can be broken back down into glucose and used by your muscles as fuel.
Androgens, such as testosterone, are typically thought of as male hormones but that is a bit of a misnomer. Women have them too, just in lesser amounts. Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of androgens than women without it. These elevated levels contribute to other symptoms of PCOS, like acne, unwanted hair growth, and no or irregular periods.
My struggle with PCOS started after high school. The symptoms came after a particularly stressful period of my life and I’ve often wondered if I stressed myself into it. Hormones! What a way to learn about them.
Anyway, it is because of having PCOS that I required infertility treatments. Only my immediate family and a few close friends were aware of this because, well, I prefer to deal with things privately. But now I am on the other side of it and I think my story may help someone else.
As I went through each fertility treatment, I wrote about it in a private blog. Now I am ready to share that experience here on Bare Feet & Curls. I hope that being transparent about my own journey will help encourage other women. If you have experienced or are experiencing something similar, know that you are not alone.
I poured out my heart in this, so it’s not short, and since the story of my little Lia is not included, it’s actually incomplete. Next month I will tell you exactly how my third sweet girl came to be. Today, I want to leave you with one thought that carried me through it all, and it is this:
God is the author of life.
My infertility is part of me, and though it does not define me, it has helped shape me. It is why I view and handle things a certain way. It is why I am so focused on reversing my PCOS. Going through this increased my passion for healthy living and is why I believe that it is more than food and exercise – stress, sleep, you name it. It all matters! Our bodies are intricately complex, evidence of the fact that we were fearfully and wonderfully made.
Miss the link? Check out Becky’s infertility story here.