Today we share Emelie's story. Emelie talks about how she took birth control pills from the age of 15 until she was 30 to "fix" her irregular periods. At 30, she was diagnosed with PCOS and had missed periods. She then turned to a doctor in Chinese medicine and got her period back after 3 months. Here she shares the tips she received from her doctor and the lifestyle changes she made to start healing.
So began my journey with PCOS
The first time I reflected on my irregular periods was when I was 15 years old. I went to the youth clinic to find out what was causing it. The midwife I saw asked about my sex habits and if there were blood clots in the family, that was all. I stepped out of the reception with birth control pills that she said would "fix" my menstrual cycle .
All my life I have been curvy. Today, I am incredibly proud of my shape and would never change my body with anyone else's. During my youth, however, I wasn't always proud of my curvy body. This led to me often comforting myself with sweets and eating less of 'real food'. I was plagued with a constant urge to suck. I wasn't really hungry, but I had dips like no other and the only thing I stuffed myself with was sweets.
Like many others who grew up in the 90s, the everyday was lined with snacks in the form of Pan pizza, sandwiches, O'boy and juice (with about 70% sugar, 10% fruit and the rest e-substances). Weekends often consisted of chips, sweets, cheese bows and soft drinks. At the time, I had no idea that my huge blood sugar swings and sweet tooth could be linked to my irregular menstrual cycle.
Stopped the pill after 15 years with PCOS
Fast forward to May 2019. After fifteen years on the pill I made the decision to stop. Two months later I got my period, but after that the period didn't come back. In the autumn of the same year, I ended up in what I would call a thirty-year crisis. Many of my friends had just gotten married, had children and were planning for child number two. Of course I was happy for them, but at the same time I felt envy for that life. I had long had a strong longing for children, and because of my irregular periods, a concern began to grow within me about whether the dream of children would ever materialize.
The months went by and in January 2020 I had felt down for a long period and my period still hadn't returned. I felt it was time to get to the bottom of how I was feeling. I made an appointment with a gynecologist where they tested my hormones and did an ultrasound. It established that I had PCOS . "What does that mean?" did I ask. "That you won't be able to have children naturally. But there is help to be had," she answered. This was my biggest nightmare, being infertile and never being able to have children.
Lifestyle changes that reduced PCOS symptoms
The meeting with the gynecologist was the starting point for me starting to understand fertility myself. I read everything I could on my own and learned that many women with fertility problems found help in Eastern medicine. I applied to a doctor trained in Chinese medicine . At the first visit to that doctor, he took my pulse and checked my tongue. "You have a lot of fluid in your body and a very low heart rate. How do you eat, how often do you go to the toilet and how is life in general?", he asked. "Wow! Finally someone who wants to help me. He understands", I thought.
I found out so much during the spring I went to see him. He taught me the importance of eating the right diet, relaxing, sleeping well, doing meditative activities and strength training. He considered being in the present and minimizing screen time to be at least as important. I found out that a lot of my PCOS starts in other parts of the body than the uterus and ovaries. I had been burnt out in 2018, gained 10 kilos in a year since going off the pill, had gas in my stomach, had a swollen stomach (looked pregnant), almost a chronic fatigue, bad memory and was frozen.
After just three sessions with my Chinese medicine doctor, I got my period back. With the help of acupuncture, nutritional supplements, Chinese herbs (prescribed by him) and a change in diet, I began to deal with my problem. I was floating on clouds. I experienced no pain and my period was exactly as it should be, no lumps and more light red in tone. I immediately told my Chinese medicine doctor about the results and he told me that "when the body is in balance, ovulation and menstruation will be painless". That's exactly how it was. I had found the right one.
Coping with PCOS and obesity
Just like so many others with PCOS, I struggle with being slightly overweight, blood sugar problems and irregular cycles. In my situation, it is easy to fall into some form of diet thinking, as much of the solution lies in regulating the diet. According to my doctor, however, it's not about counting calories and skipping carbohydrates altogether. It's about eating right.
We had ten sessions together over three months. During this period I had two periods. At the last session I asked "when will I be completely healed?". He replied "Emelie, you are a fast paced person and I hear you spend a lot of your time finding solutions to your problem. You will get there, but when you chase and get manic thinking about it, you stress the body even more. The body must be allowed to recover and take everything at its own pace, You will heal". He was right.
During my relatively short journey, I have been very open about my problems and have today discovered that four people close to me also have PCOS. Several of my friends have something wrong with their menstrual cycle, from endometriosis to PCOS, PCO, short phase three and multiple miscarriages. I am still working on my PCOS and it will take the time it takes to heal. My philosophy is to eat regularly, drink more water, eat plenty of fat and protein, take supplements such as magnesium, zinc, cod liver oil and other supplements that are good for fertility, don't drink caffeine and minimize gluten intake (I've almost completely cut it out now because it makes my stomach feel better).
How I feel today
Every day I devote at least thirty minutes to meditation, I work out at the gym about three times a week and I go for walks every day. It's fun to be one of the strongest girls in the gym and I thank PCOS and testosterone for that. I go to bed today when I'm tired, which is around 10pm (instead of 12:30am as it used to be). I make sure to unwind and read a book instead of watching TV or Instagram.
Today I feel well and no longer focus on my weight, the most important thing is to start the healing from within. I know that one day I will become a mother, which is my greatest desire.
I know that I will have to help my body extra to get there. Today I have confidence in myself, my gut and my body. It is so magical and clearly signals when it feels good and when it doesn't - listen to it! Thank you to my body for everything you give me, I love you.
My best tips for others with PCOS
- Eat properly and you will have more energy during the day.
- Don't count calories.
- Eat fat! It will help your hormones balance.
- Cut back on white refined sugar.
- Try replacing gluten with coconut flour, almond flour, chickpea flour (for me it made a difference).
- Try replacing or cutting back on traditional milk.
- Cut out coffee (big sacrifice, but big difference for me).
- Reduce stress, both mental and physical.
- Get enough sleep.
- Talk to friends and family and I promise you that more people will dare to open up. You are never alone.
This is a personal story from a person in the Womensync community. The same results and experience cannot be guaranteed, but depend on the person's state of health, background, lifestyle in general and genetics. Womensync does not intend to diagnose or treat medical conditions. Always consult a doctor in case of suspected illness.