I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. I know a lot of people know exactly what that is, but there is still a large majority that doesn’t. Basically, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, in it’s simplest definition, is a condition affecting women’s hormone levels in which they produce too much of the male hormone (testosterone), and not enough female hormones (estrogen and progesterone).
I found out I had PCOS a year after I got married. My husband and I decided early on we wanted to be parents and I stopped my birth control the month before our wedding. After one year of trying with no positive pregnancy tests-not even a scare, I made a doctor appointment ( I seem to be at the doctor’s a lot…). My doctor ran some blood work asked me about my menstrual periods and some other things and referred me to a specialist. A fertility specialist.
I started this journey like all people wanting a child do; excited, full of joy and hope. The specialist ran some tests for my husband and found that he was just fine. Another good thing! Then they did an intrauterine ultrasound for me and found I have three very large cysts on my left ovary. For reference, your ovary is about 3 to 5 CM. One of my cysts was 6 cm. The doctor said if they didn’t remove them the weight on my ovary could twist it and permanently cause damage. We tried birth control pills first, which was terrible. I was on double the dose of hormones in hopes that they would shrink but they didn’t budge, I just got hormonal and miserable. So on with the surgery, I went.
After the surgery and healing, I underwent another fun test. An HSG test, or Hysterosalpingogram, is where they inject dye into your uterine cavity through the vagina and cervix while x-raying the procedure. The test is incredibly uncomfortable but I found out that there were no issues and again was feeling hopeful and excited. Back to the fertility specialist, we went to start the next phase-Clomid.
Clomid is essentially supposed to cause you to drop eggs or ovulate. In most woman with PCOS we don’t have normal periods due to the imbalance of hormones and therefore do not ovulate. If you don’t ovulate you don’t get pregnant. So I started Clomid. Basically, the process is: start medication (Provera or Aygestin) to induce a period. Then start Clomid to (hopefully) cause ovulation, then have intercourse on a certain time frame and schedule to (hopefully) get pregnant. I started at the basic 50 MG and went all the way up to 300 MG with absolutely no results. My progesterone levels stayed exactly the same from start to finish.
And boy was I sick. Sooo sick. I felt like I was pregnant with none of the benefits. Breakouts, throwing up, cramping, bloated, sensitive breasts, my sense of smell and taste was through the roof which made only bland foods edible. It was honestly so terrible. And for what? No change. No change. No change. Every. Single. Time. So what’s next??
Well, I had a mental breakdown. What I didn’t mention about all this was that I stopped all my psychiatric medications during this process because I didn’t want to hurt or lose any potential babies. The combination of stress at my last job ( A whole nother post in and of itself), the treatments, the fertility, my mental health-I just lost it. I made an emergency appointment with my therapist, stop fertility treatment altogether, and went on medical leave for three months from work. It was my rock bottom. And I’ll talk about all of that in part 2.
What is your experience with PCOS and fertility? Are you currently trying to conceive? Share your comments and questions down below, I’d love to talk to you!