How I Broke Free From PMS Pain
In high school, I’d often lie on a bench curled up in pain from debilitating cramps. I knew something was up, but every doctor I saw said they couldn’t find anything wrong with me.
They assured me that my severe cramps, irregular cycles, cystic acne, chronic fatigue, anxiety, and depression were just normal parts of being a teenager. My mom, a nurse, agreed. So I tolerated my symptoms as best I could.
It wasn’t until over a decade later, at my first appointment with a NaProTECHNOLOGY doctor, when I stopped feeling like I was just imagining things. After one physical exam and a few questions, she concluded that I likely have a hormone imbalance. I started charting my cycle which helped us identify abnormal signs like brown bleeding and cycles that lasted much longer than 35 days.
Later, my doctors showed me x-ray films of my ovaries pockmarked with cysts. They prescribed me progesterone, a hormone that would support and help maintain my pregnancies. While all the symptoms were there, no one told me about PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) until I miscarried my next two pregnancies. PCOS is a disorder that causes cysts to grow on the ovaries, resulting in hormonal imbalances. PCOS is a leading cause of infertility.
Unknowingly, many women suffer from PCOS. Statistics show between 1 in 10 to 20 women have PCOS, yet more than 50 percent are undiagnosed.
Read The Data, But Think Like a Diva
My early Google searches first brought me to the PCOS Diva’s Facebook page where literally thousands of women expressed similar concerns. Here Amy Medling, the founder and original PCOS Diva, graciously shares studies and tips from recent research and her own experience over the years. Joining this online community gave me more answers and healing than any of the dozens of doctors I’d seen for help. By following her advice and lifestyle programs, thousands of women Medling has worked with have said they feel better and happier than they have in their entire life.
So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that she published a book just this month. Every woman who experiences any of the broad range of PCOS symptoms should read Healing PCOS: A 21-Day Plan for Reclaiming Your Health and Life with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Medling writes, “You may have one or two of these symptoms or a dozen…there is no single model for PCOS.” At the end of the day, everyone can benefit from the anti-inflammatory diet rich in whole foods, moderate exercise, and stress-reducing self-care that Medling promotes in her guide.
Do you have PCOS?
Along with those I mentioned above, other common symptoms of PCOS include:
- cystic ovaries
- chronic inflammation
- easy weight gain
- insulin resistance and hyperinsulemia
- cardiovascular issues
- Type 2 Diabetes
- poor body image or eating disorders
- hair loss or growth
- high levels of androgens
- male-pattern hair growth
- thyroid disorders, among many others
Many women think having painful PMS and periods is normal, but this is a myth. You don’t have to exhibit all of these symptoms to have PCOS; you don’t even have to have cysts on your ovaries. If you’re suspicious, Medling suggests assertively asking your doctor to order tests from this recommended list of labs.
As a PCOS-thriver and certified health coach, Medling argues against easy fixes like pills or diet plans which only put a bandaid on the underlying issue. They won’t truly heal the root cause. Her book doesn’t focus on a list of foods you can’t eat or pharmaceuticals to mask the symptoms. She notes, “Here’s the thing: until you think like a PCOS Diva, you cannot live like a PCOS Diva . . . until you upgrade your thinking, nothing will stick.”
What is a PCOS Diva?
Medling writes that a PCOS Diva is “a woman with hope” who is educated, empowered, and surrounds herself with a supportive healthcare team, friends, and family, She adds, “A PCOS Diva looks beyond the physical support required to manage symptoms and works to heal and enhance her whole person—body, mind, and spirit.”
While I have a pretty healthy diet, I confess I’m bad at exercising and de-stressing. Some of my symptoms like hair loss, bloating, and anxiety have subsided, but there’s still a lot of healing ahead of me. I keep telling myself, “I’ll just start tomorrow.” But after reading Medling’s book, it’s clear that I’ve run out of excuses—I can control my breakouts; I can want to exercise; I can get through the afternoon without feeling groggy; and I don’t have to have painful periods.
PCOS Diva’s 21-Day Plan is truly doable and sustainable. The lifestyle choices it inspires you to make will set you on track for a lifetime of healing. Isn’t that what we all deserve?