To read the first post in this series, click here. For now, I’ll continue to talk about the difficult search for a doctor that took place over the course of a few months.
This next appointment was actually an online consultation. A college friend of my mom’s recommended I reach out to a naturopathic based out-of-state who consults patients through email as well as in person. He was able to help said friend when traditional doctors were not, which gave me hope. I sent him an email in the form of an essay, explaining my situation in detail. He responded in kind and laid out all of my symptoms and their causes. I’m going to post a quote from the email here, and I’ll be happy to direct any interested person towards the naturopathic:
“PCOS always begins with low thyroid, leading to weak ovaries, over-taxed adrenals, depleted progesterone, zinc, essential fatty acids, and depleted magnesium. A woman’s body will produce male hormones to try to balance its estrogen. This leads to adult acne, increased facial hair, and hair loss.”
While some women may show typical signs of hypothyroidism and others may not, the point I’m trying to make is that every single one of these functions is connected. No wonder it can be so difficult to feel better! (If you want to learn more about this interrelatedness, check this out.) The naturopathic ended up recommending several supplements to make up for my deficiencies as well as diet changes. I’m going to list them below, but please know that I am not a registered nutritionist or any type of doctor: I’m simply listing them to give you an idea of what has begun to help me:
- Aloe Vera Juice
- Salmon oil
- Biocitrate magnesium
- Psyllium Husk
- Progesterone cream
- Avoid refined sugar & very limited natural sugars (he gave a list of “good guy” and “bad guy” sweeteners)
- Avoid refined carbs
- Organic*, grass-fed meats and wild-caught seafood
- Organic fruits and vegetables (or at least those in the dirty dozen)
- Avoid cow dairy, with the exception of plain, organic yogurt and kefir
- Avoid fruits high in sugar (bananas, oranges, grapes…the only fruits I’ve been eating are organic apples and berries)
Why organic everything, you ask? As it turns out, the pesticides used in most agricultural settings today really is harmful. Pesticide residue often remains on the food we eat, which then changes the chemical make-up of our bodies. In other words, organic products are very important for those struggling with hormonal imbalances (hi, there). I didn’t grow up in an organic-buying family and had my doubts about whether or not it would make a difference, but I was willing to give anything a try. I also didn’t want to shell out more money for groceries, but the reality is that I’m privileged enough to afford them, and I recognize that is not the case for everyone. (Hint: They DID make a difference, but I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself in telling the story!)
The naturopathic also said I needed to take a break from all exercise besides walking, and he recommended I follow this plan for at least three months. Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed. I have always been conscious of the food I put in my body, but this was another level. And no exercise, at all??? He actually said that exercise with tax my system so much so that I would start gaining weight because of it (which made sense because that had already started to happen…) The reality was, my body had already shown me it wasn’t up for training, and this was just confirmation of that fact.
Part of what makes this so interesting is that many women are told they must exercise and lose weight in order to gain control of their symptoms, whereas I was told the opposite. It just goes to show, once again how unique each individual’s journey to healing is! It’s also worth noting that it’s much harder to lose weight when you have PCOS, and especially when you also have hypothyroidism. As someone who is on the smaller side for a woman with the disorder and who is frustrated with “minor” weight gain and my inability to lose it, I can only imagine how frustrating this is for others. This is so important to keep in mind before judging anyone’s size, large or small, because you never know what a person may be going through.
I did follow the doctor’s instructions to a tee for several months because I was determined to feel better, and for the first time I felt like I was on a better path. I’ll talk more about the results of the lifestyle changes I made in my next post! Thanks for keeping up and let me know if you have comments or questions 🙂