Tuesday, 31 August 2010


It's annoying and depressing when the bloody witch shows up. I started cramping on Friday, spotting on Sunday, brown stuff on Monday then today (Tuesday) is when the proper af stuff started. So far so good. No clots, which is a HUGE relief.

Overall pms symptoms this month were mild to non-existent compared to last month. I had mild pains on the top sides of my bbs which is indicative of ovulation, so I'm happy with that. The only thing I'm not too happy about was the cramping which started to get bad on Friday and worse all throughout yesterday. I've been cramping on and off since I ov'd.

I have accepted that as long as I'm plagued by PCOS things will never be 'normal' for me. Every month will bring about a different set of symptoms and there will be no predictability as far as knowing what to expect is concerned. I know things generally change as you get older, I'm almost 30, so I know my period can't be the same as it was when I was in my teens and early twenties. Even so, this is kinda extreme!

This may sound crazy but I plan to rid myself of PCOS. I don't plan on suffering with it for the rest of my life. There have been debates about whether you can totally eliminate PCOS. My own thinking is if your hormones are all within normal range, you don't have poly cystic ovaries or excess androgens and you're ovulating regularly, can you still be said to have PCOS?

I can't help but think if only I can go back to my pre PCOS weight I'll be done with all these madness.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


We PCOS'ers are so used to our bodies upping and doing foolish things. So much so that when our body actualy behaves the way a normal body is supposed to, we get suspicious. I know I do. Four days before AF and not a single PMS symptom. No achey boob, no extreme fatigue, no headaches banging away, no cravings, nothing! I feel serene, I can't believe it. Normally by this time I would want to lop off my bbs and throw them into the Thames, but they're behaving well. A tad swollen but no pain. Considering what I went through last month this is a miracle!

I was going to give myself at least 3 months, expecting my symptoms to gradually taper off with each month of treatment, but this is too sudden. I mean, I'm glad I don't have to to be wretched for almost two weeks before my periods, at the same time I'm wondering why my pms symptoms can stop abruptly. What wonder herb did the trick, eh?

I've been doing a lot of things and even more so this month it's hard to tell precisely what herb or deed did the trick. There's my TCM herbs which I didn't take as prescribed for fear of overwhelming my system. Could it be that the treatment that was meant for a week which I stretched out to three weeks is actually sufficient and we're being ripped off? Then there's the castor oil therapy and self massage. Is castor oil that potent I can put it forward as the miracle cure for HIV/AIDS without making a fool of myself? I also took flax seeds with my oats daily for almost two months, and after some research it turns out regular intake of flaxseed/linseed can reduce pms symptoms. I also regularly take apple cider vinegar (ACV) before every meal and cinnamon with meals. Could they all have done the trick?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

So Far So Good

At roughly 8dpo last month I was an absolute mess. My hormones were all over the place giving the illusion that there was a bfp lurking around the corner. This time I feel great! None of those dodgy symptoms I had which has led me to conclude that my detox regiment has really paid off. Since I stopped Metformin I've had to resort to natural means of controlling my blood sugar. All my shakes, headaches and fatigue have disappeared! My regime consists of:

2 cups of spearmint tea daily
2 cups of green tea daily
1 teaspoon of cinnamon with every meal (or blended into fruit juice with apple cider vinegar)
1 tab of 200mg Chromium GTF daily
Self-massage + castor oil therapy on my lower abs every other day
Low fat, low carb, high fibre diet, plenty water
Oats + wheat bran for breakfast daily
An apple (or two) a day. Literally! (apples are great for controlling blood sugar)

And 20 mins of aerobic exercise which I haven't been able to do much of because of the fasting but that's pretty much what I've been doing this past month and the results so far are outstanding. Oh, and the Chinese herbs which I spaced out on alternate days with the castor oil because it's not generally encouraged to do herbs while detoxing. Plus, I didn't want to overwhelm my system.

Because PCOS is caused by hormonal malfeasance I have learnt not to read too much meaning into dpo symptoms. That being said the only thing I've been having are cramps in my lower abs which started 2 days ago. It hurts and is not something I can ignore but I'm not making much of it, could just be my utrs gearing up for af. My bbs don't feel sore or swollen either, THANK GOD! Energy levels are tip top. Considering what I went through last month I'm feeling on top of the world at the moment. My pms symptoms have always made a mess of me. This time around things seem to be in control, which means all my efforts are paying off.

I've stopped taking all my herbs, just to be on the safe side.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

TTC Without TTC

If I ov'd this month the castor oil must have worked wonders because I didn't get that dreaded pain in the butt. I only had a mild, fleeting version of it around when I was supposed to ov. I also didn't get any ewcm or any respectable cm for that matter. I put that down to the fasting and not being able to guzzle as much water as I normally do. Be that as it may, we've been bd'ng every day or at least every other day if circumstances will permit. 

BUT, like I promised myself, I am not obsessing this month. I haven't poas yet and don't plan to do so. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, I have my appointment next month so that's something to look forward to. 

I feel SO MUCH relaxed relinquishing control over my reproductive bits, as it were. I put myself under a lot of stress last month, testing this and that, checking this and that. And I'm just starting out on my ttc journey (technically anyway, since I just started ov 2 months ago) I can't imagine every month being like last month. I'd go crazy! I don't want the stress of wanting to have a baby prevent me from having a baby. That's as counter productive as one can get. 

So yeah, just chilling. Nothing to write/obsess about in the ttc department. 

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Ramadan Weight Loss tips

As Muslims start the month of Ramadan, maintaining a healthy weight and indeed loosing weight can be a challenge even for the most disciplined health freak (being called a health freak on this blog is a compliment!).  You fast from sun rise to sun down and the minute you break your fast your first instinct is to wolf down as much food as your stomach can accommodate. It's difficult to exercise when you are on a calorie restricted diet, yes, so all you health nuts out there are forced to scale down your exercise to checking your wrist watch for how many more hours you have to go before you can break your fast.

If you frequently find yourself in communal iftar gatherings it is even more of a challenge to eat healthy when most of what's spread out before you is either fried and dipped in sugar, coated in barter fried then rolled in sugar or just plain fried surgery barter. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the gist. Iftar platters are often filled with unhealthy foods, because we believe we should reward ourselves with treats after fasting the whole day. Doing this consistently for 30 days and it's no wonder people actually put on weight during ramadan instead of the other way around.

I've written up some helpful tips that hopefully will ensure that you don't gain weight over the next 27 days - in no particular order:

If you are IR and can't find fresh dates, don't break fast with dried dates. Dried dates have a high GI value and will send your blood sugar levels up the roof especially if taken on it's own after a whole day of not eating. If you are trying to control your blood sugar, I would recommend breaking fast with low GI fruits like cherrie, plum, grapefruit, peaches, apples, pears, dried apricots, grapes, coconut, coconut milk, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries and prunes. You can still have dried dates but after 'buffering' your stomach with the fibre from the above mentioned fruits. In the same vein, undiluted fruit juices or fruit juices from concentrates are a big no no as they too have high glycemic values and will send your blood sugar up the roof.

Stay away from or limit fried foods.The quickest way to pile on unwanted pounds is to indulge in fried foods. Oil/fat contains twice the calorie of carbohydrates. During ramadan you typically will not be as active as you are otherwise, so it is important to limit the amount of calories you consume, if you don't want to put on weight.

Reduce food quantity. When you fast your body conserves energy, your metabolism slows down, and if you pay careful attention you'll notice you feel a bit chilly towards the evening. Because your body lacks calories (food) it assumes you are starving and goes into conservation mode. Therefore anything you eat that isn't needed will be stored away as fat, and much of it isn't needed anyway. In other words, you don't need to eat as much as you normally would when you aren't fasting because you body doesn't need the excess calories. 

Don't have your entire iftar meal at a go. Again, it's so easy to get carried away when one sits down with the family to eat and eat till one is bursting at the seams. Eating small portions interspersed with fruit over several hours is much better than sitting down to one heavy meal at a go.

Drink plenty water. Hunger can easily be confused with thirst. Sometimes after breaking fast we start shoveling food into our mouth without realizing that we've gone a whole day without drinking water as well. Our body is made up of 70% water. Sometimes replenishing lost liquid is satiating enough to make one reduce the amount of food one eats.

Eat more fruits. It is common to feel bloated after Iftar, more so if you live in the northern hemisphere where the nights are shorter than the days. Because of the relatively short period of time between iftar and sahur heavy meals don't get to digest before one eats sahur. The trick here is to make sure at least half of one's plate always consists of some sort of fruit or vegetable and to be on the safe side, the amount of carbohydrates consumed can be limited to the size of one's fist. 

Take time to eat, chew slowly and savour every bite. The slower you eat the less you'll need before you start feeling full and vice versa. 

Load up on complex carbohydrates for sahur. A modest bowl of lentil soup will last longer than four slices of bread. How soon you start to feel hungry after your morning meal doesn't depend on the quantity of food you consume but the quality of the carbohydrates. If you eat fast releasing carbs like rice or bread, you'll start feeling hungry sooner than if you eat something that's high in fibre, like oats or protein based foods like beans. Foods that are loaded with sugar are also a big no no, and that includes some so called healthy cereals. These will cause a spike in blood sugar and before you know, you're feeling hungry three hours later. 

As a matter of fact start and end your day with low GI foods for an altogether feeling of satiation without the unwanted 'benefit' of weight gain. 

Tarawih prayers aside from the spiritual pay-off is an excellent way to burn calories and reduce post iftar bloatedness. 

Finally, it's important for us to purify our intentions. Ramadan is an opportunity for Muslims to empathize with the millions around the world who experience starvation on a daily basis while fulfilling an important religious obligation. It is an opportunity to get closer to our Lord and tame our desires, therefore moderation is in order, especially when it comes to food. I naturally find myself gravitating away from the things that I shamelessly indulge in, like spending endless hours in the internet 'researching' Pah!! Instead I spend more time reflecting and doing some soul searching. Our goals should be to end the month spiritually stronger and psychologically more disciplined. 

Ramadan Mubarak!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Exhibit A

So early yesterday morning - around 1 am - I had a mad binge. For some inexplicable reason my appetite was insatiable. I had chickpea and plantain porridge and a bowl of cereal. I was still hungry and craved some soup which I had made days earlier and stored in the freezer. I fished it out, hacked away at it with the kitchen knife, popped the bits into the microwave and sat down to eat it. I went to bed on a full stomach.

When I woke up to do the dishes in the morning I noticed the tip of the knife I'd used was broken. My heart sank. I searched frantically around the kitchen, in the sink and the whole living area, I imagined it had ricocheted of the wall and landed in one corner somewhere. But then again I couldn't shake off the thought that I'd swallowed it along with my soup.

I told Dh and he tried to persuade me that I hadn't swallowed it. He said the knife was already broken before I used it. I told him, the reason I chose to use the knife for the dirty job was because it had a perfectly pointed tip, so there was absolutely no way it was already broken. At this point we both got down on our knees and started looking for the severed bit. When we couldn't find it panic set in. By 'panic set in' I mean I was literally shi*ing myself!

All hell broke loose when I started feeling some sharp pains in my tummy. I knew with 100% certainty that I had swallowed the broken tip of the knife. I was also certain I would bleed to death. I started regretting craving the bloody soup, I saw my whole life flash before me and I even had the image of the missing piece of metal ripping my womb to shreds and being told I can never have a baby.

Exhibit A

We ended up at the A&E in Barts. Sure enough my X-ray confirmed it. When the radiologist asked if I had any 'sparkly bits on my knickers', I knew she wasn't being funny. After I was examined the conclusion was that I was really lucky my lungs were spared. The doctor said the human intestine is quite resilient and with lots of fibre I should pass it out within the next couple of days. Also it might be a little pain to pass, but better out than in. 

To be honest I'll take a ripped rectum over a punctured lung any day (and I don't mean that in a the sense that ripped rectums are part of my daily repertoire, I'm just saying, giving the choice a torn bum hole is a hundred times better than slowly drowning in one's own fluids). They also said I should come right back if I started experiencing pain and swelling. I'm praying that won't happen, though I'm still having the occasional sharp pains I'm hoping it'll pass tomorrow.

I have to say the folks at Barts were absolutely fantastic, every single one of them had a smile for me! Which may explain why I was calm despite being told I had piece of triangular metal making it's evil way down my intestinal tract. You often hear horror stories about the NHS but I've been there twice now with absolutely nothing to complain about. Both times the service was excellent. Their degree of professionalism is to be commended. I'm looking forward to my appointment with the fertility expert next month (Finally got my appointment, Yey!!) 

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Natural Ways To Conceive With PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that affects millions of women. If you are trying to conceive  with PCOS, you are not alone. Conceiving a baby is more difficult for women with PCOS, and you can run into more obstacles along the way. But is it impossible to get pregnant naturally with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome? For many women, the answer is “No”!

The fact that PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women, and that a large number of women with this condition are anovulatory, meaning that they do not ovulate naturally, is hard to ignore. But there are things that you can do to make pregnancy more likely.

If you have PCOS and are obese, losing weight can help increase your chances of conceiving naturally. With the help of a dietician or nutritionist, you can come up with the perfect diet to help you lose weight and boost your fertility. There are foods that improve the function of insulin, and can help stimulate ovulation in PCOS patients. 

Most women with PCOS who do succeed in getting pregnant do so with the help of fertility drugs that work by stimulating ovulation. Clomid is the most popular of these drugs, and it is very effective. But for those who want to try a more natural approach, herbs that stimulate ovulation offer hope. 

Chasteberry, commonly known as vitex, is often prescribed to PCOS patients by herbal practitioners, though some have raised questions as to whether vitex is appropriate for women suffering from PCOS. At the same time, many women report that vitex normalized their cycle. 

Dong gui, or Chinese Angelica, can be used to treat irregular cycles in combination with other herbs, such as peony root. Black cohosh is sometimes used to regulate hormone production in PCOS patients, as does dandelion root. If you suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and are interested in trying herbal remedies to regulate your menstrual cycles and attempt to stimulate ovulation, seeing a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or a naturopath, should be your first step. 

After using your prescribed herbal treatment for a while, you can start monitoring your menstrual cycle, and determine whether you are now ovulating, with the help of an ovulation calendar  and ovulation predictor kits. Herbal treatment does work for some PCOS patients, and it might help you get pregnant. If you find that herbal treatment has not made a difference for you, there are always more conventional ways of helping women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome conceive. 

For more information and TTC tips visit Trying-To-Conceive.com

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Castor Oil Therapy & Self Massage

started castor oil therapy and self-massage on Saturday. I believe the agonizing pain I had during and after my last OV was more than extreme PMS and more to do with my cysts. Plus during my AF I was getting a stabbing pain on both ovaries which has never happened before.

I came across castor oil therapy a while ago but didn't give it more thought because I wasn't experiencing pain from my cysts. And also because my pms symptoms were showing some improvement. Now that things are upside down I'm looking for alternatives to reducing the size and number of my cysts while encouraging ovulation.

According to DiagnoseMe the physiological effects of the castor oil pack include stimulating the liver, increasing eliminations, relieving pain, increasing lymphatic circulation, improving gastrointestinal function, increasing relaxation and reducing inflammation (PCOS is an inflammatory condition). It can been used for the following:

  • Ovarian and uterine cysts
  • Blocked tubes
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Endometreosis
  • PCOS
  • Detoxifying before conception

There is a long list of conditions that can be treated with castor oil, I've only mentioned those that have to do with women's fertility. Castor oil is easily absorbed by the skin and applying it to the reproductive region of the body with heat will stimulate blood flow to that region, gently massaging it into the skin will also help relax the muscles and break up scar tissue. 

If you have the time and don't mind the mess, castor oil therapy is worth considering as an alternative to surgery for non cancerous cysts, fibroids and tubal blockage. It involves applying heat to a flannel cloth soaked with castor oil that's placed on the abdomen for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Here is an excellent website detailing castor oil treatment. You can purchase a castor oil pack online for almost £20 (in the UK) which consists of 500ml of castor oil and a yard of flannel cloth and that's not inclusive of P&P. I made my own for less than £10 including hot water bottle!

Yes it's messy and the whole process seems cumbersome but for me it's an excellent stress relief. I use that time to engage in deep breathing exercises. My own method is to first massage my lower abdominal area with castor oil before applying it generously to my skin, placing and flannel cloth on that and then a hot water bottle. I do that for about an hour, have a hot bath and go to bed.

*Castor oil therapy is not recommended for use during menstruation and pregnancy.

I'll be reporting on any improvement with the COT.