In case you missed the first part of my story and want to catch up, click to read the first and second posts I made. This next part of my journey covers my experience with different doctors and what I learned from the appointments. It also touches on the pathophysiology behind PCOS, or the changes that accompany a disorder or disease. And don’t worry, it’s not too complicated. I’m a business major.
I never thought it would be difficult to find a doctor that fit my needs, but it was. And that’s why I’m writing about it! If you’re reading this and have yet to see improvements or simply haven’t found the right doctor, I hope this will help. If you have any questions at all and/or would like to know about the testing I had completed, contact me here or leave a comment!
My first appointment was with my family doctor, aka. the doctor who diagnosed me. She ran blood tests and mentioned the possibility of taking either birth control or Metformin, the latter of which is actually an anti-diabetes medication; this is because women with PCOS tend to have insulin resistance. Both are meant to reduce testosterone levels and induce a period, and Metformin is supposed to help with weight loss, but neither do more than place a band-aid on the root of the problem. Medications do appear to work in some cases, but the majority of women I’ve talked to have failed to see any improvement beyond getting a period when using them. I still have much to learn about PCOS, but I believe it’s important to understand these three things:
- PCOS is incredibly complex because hormonal imbalance is the foremost symptom, and cells communicate with each other using hormones. Therefore, if hormones are wacky… the body responds unkindly. These responses can (and often do) lead to adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, autoimmune diseases and more.
- Different women have different individual causes of PCOS. This is especially important to understand because not only does it tell you that each path to symptom reversal is different (yes, that’s a thing!), it also points out why some women improve faster than others. It’s easy for me to become disheartened when I see that someone who was diagnosed with PCOS three months ago has already made their symptoms go away, but then I remember that we are all different and we all have our own. root. causes.
- PCOS needs to be treated by looking at the root causes of symptoms – this is the only viable long-term solution if the body is going to heal. Sure, you may not be producing enough estrogen or progesterone naturally, but pumping more hormones into the body to make up for this deficit is not the right thing to do. It may allow the body to create a menstrual cycle, but the outside help does all of the work. Why are you not getting your period? Why do you feel tired? Why are getting more acne and losing hair? What is it that’s causing these problems? Those are the questions we need to be asking.
I’ll expand upon that last point in a bit, but first I’ll get back to the doctor’s appointments. You might be able to infer that I chose not to take birth control or Metformin. I was not nearly as informed then about my condition as I am now, but I still knew I would only medicate as a last resort. Because of this, my family doctor recommended that I make an appointment with an endocrinologist, which is what I talked about in my last post.
I saw the endocrinologist at the end of September and went into it desperate for answers. Both my mom and I had read about my symptoms and were beginning to see that they extended beyond just PCOS. Upon relaying my symptoms to the doctor, she told me that fatigue was not a symptom of PCOS (first point of confusion). She then suggested that my fatigue was due to seasonal allergies…not only once, but twice (second point of confusion). I explained to her multiple times that, while it could be a factor, I had been suffering from numerous symptoms for months that were only getting worse. The appointment ended with her telling me that she didn’t know what to do other than run some blood tests, and I walked away feeling incredibly discouraged.
Now, let me be clear – I have no doubt that this particular doctor has a lot of medical knowledge and has helped many women (she did come on a recommendation, after all), but she lacked the necessary knowledge to help me. It was a frustrating experience, but it was an important lesson to learn regarding the fact that PCOS is not well understood in the medical community. Prior to the appointment, I had communicated with multiple women of varying ages who were all dealing with fatigue and whom had tested positive for PCOS. How was fatigue NOT a symptom? This is where the points I listed out above start to make sense. Fatigue may not be a direct symptom of PCOS, but the doctor I saw failed to recognize that it was actually caused by the disorder!
I went a completely different route when choosing the next doctor, but I’ll talk about that later on. As always, let me know in the comments or with the contact form if there are any questions I can answer or anything I can help with. Thanks for reading 🙂