Friday, 1 July 2011


A while ago I blogged about how the Channel4 program Embarassing Bodies tackled the embarrassing symptoms of PCOS by prescribing drugs rather than advising sufferers on how to manage their condition through lifestyle changes. They seem to have taken a cue by trying alternative methods, because in last weeks episode another woman with hirsutism (excess hair) came on the show and rather than been sent away for laser treatment, she was told to try and loose some weight. And it worked! She lost some weight and all her excess hair went away. No need for drugs, no need for expensive laser and she was all the better for it. Needless to say, I was really pleased for her and for the show, for prescribing a drug free approach.

I’m bemused when I read women complaining about their PCOS symptoms. I’m especially annoyed when I read women say things like, ‘I’ve tried everything, and nothing works.’ Have you really tried EVERYTHING? What exactly have you done and how long have you done it for? PCOS takes years to manifest, it’s not going to go away after a few weeks or even a few months; but you will notice improvements almost immediately if you are doing the right thing.

There’s a PCOS support group on Facebook that I participate in. I’m seriously thinking about unliking the page because it doesn’t seem as if any of the women there is serious about the condition. The advocates of natural methods are in the minority. Over 90% of women there are medicating their symptoms. Very few believe in the exercise/natural/lifestyle change route. In fact they even slated the owner of the page once for posting the long term effects unmanaged PCOS can have such as increased chances of heart disease, blood pressure, miscarriage and type II diabetes. A recent study showed that women with PCOS have arteries that are 10 years older than their actual age! That’s something to seriously consider if you think popping pills alone will make it all go away.

I may sound harsh; but this is my pet peeve. Women would rather bury their heads in the sand than face the reality of their condition! Then the same people moan about how nothing seems to be getting better and they wonder what they are doing wrong. Women who only listen to what their doctor says even though it’s obvious they are not getting better.

You have to believe that you have some control over your body. You cannot control your genes, but you can control what you put into your body that can cause a gene to express itself. Take insulin resistance, for example. You may have a natural predisposition to being insulin resistant. But if you don’t eat refined carbohydrates, sugar, and junk food, your body will never have cause to trigger insulin resistance.

It’s also important you educate yourself so you don’t get taken for a ride. Just because you can afford fertility treatments does not mean it should be your first line of action. I’ve read about women who’ve spent tens of thousands on IVF only to end up going down the natural route and falling pregnant. In reality, if you are overweight, no self-respecting doctor should prescribe fertility treatment (unless for very specific reasons) because losing as little as 7-10% of one’s weight is enough to jumpstart ovulation. Imagine the amount of money wasted and the emotional turmoil you put yourself thorough, only to find out at the end of the day that doing a low GI diet with regular exercise was all that was needed to get pregnant?

Do your research. Even conditions like hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism also linked to PCOS all have a genesis. These conditions didn’t just spring up on you overnight. There must be something you are doing too much of or not doing enough of that’s causing the condition to linger. Remove the cause, give your body the right fuel it needs to heal and you’re cured. Put your health first. Even if you don’t have the money, I’m proof that with very little money you can still afford to eat healthy and exercise. I walk everywhere, and I mostly shop in farmers markets where you get more bang for your money’s worth of fresh produce!

If you believe your PCOS is something you have to ‘suffer’ with, that’s exactly how it’s going to be for you. But if you believe it’s just a bump in your life that you can get rid off, and lead a healthy, symptom free life, then that’s exactly what you’re going to get. It all comes down to you, how proactive you are, how dedicated you are and how far you’re willing to go to take control of your life


  1. Hey, I've installed Google Chrome and apparently I can comment again! Yes!

  2. Yey!!!!!! Good to have you back, :)

  3. As you know I also favour the natural route. I also believe that
    medication should be the last resort after having tried to manage PCOS
    through lifestyle changes (diet, exercise and natural dietary
    supplements worked for me). So basically I agree with you.

    However, I think we should less judgemental on women who take other
    approaches. There usually is a reason for that, other than laziness or
    lack of initiative.

    To start with, we should bear in mind that some of us aren't getting
    any younger. :-) Some women were raised in a pre-Internet society
    where you couldn't possibly contradict a doctor or educate yourself on
    your condition. Some women were still children when vaccines,
    antibiotics and other miracle drugs were mass-introduced, which means
    that they were conditioned to believe (and rightly so) that medication
    saves lives —maybe their parents lost a sibling a few years before for
    want of a medicine. These are frames of thinking that are deeply
    ingrained in our Western-world collective consciousness, and changing
    them isn't easy.

    There's something else. I have been battling with my PCOS symptoms
    ever since I hit puberty, i.e. for more than 20 years. From your posts
    I gather that your PCOS battle has been notably shorter (and I'm
    really happy for you —having serious PCOS symptoms such as hirsutism
    or obesity when you're a teenager developing your personality can scar
    you forever.) However, it makes it more difficult for you to
    understand that some women have simply reached the point where their
    stamina is exhausted. Just like some fertility-challenged ladies
    eventually give up after years of trying EVERYTHING, some PCOSers are
    too tired and discouraged to explore yet another possible line of
    treatment, especially when the natural route usually means that you
    are on your own. It doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't
    proactive or like burying their head in the sand. Maybe they are just
    ahead of us.

    Finally, a word of caution: some women are saying the truth when they
    complain that nothing works for them. And yes, I mean diet and
    exercise. A low-glycemic index diet and daily exercise helped me lose
    a lot of weight (-> ideal BMI) and I felt better than ever, but my
    menstrual cycles were still chaotic. I tried vitex and other
    supplements/herbs and nothing worked. It wasn't until I introduced
    (yes, I'm serious) fish oil capsules in my daily routine that my
    periods started arriving like clockwork, my ovulation normalised, my
    luteal phase defect disappeared and I got pregnant at long last, on
    what was only my third normal, fish-oil induced cycle. So yes, I do
    believe women who say that lifestyle changes don't work for them, and
    I am convinced that every woman should try to find what works FOR HER,
    and in some cases the answer is not the natural route, but
    old-fashioned medication. After all, the answer was fish oil for me...
    and metformin for you, wasn't it? :-)

    Tulipanes de Cristal

  4. Hi Crystal,

    Yikes! Sorry about that and for that fact that I don't log into this account often, so didn't get to read your email sooner. Blogger seems to be censoring long comments for some reason. They either go to junk or don't show up at all. I'll try and post it on my blog but still reply here, just in case, :)

    I appreciate your comment. I know we are all different but I've always said on my blog that every woman has to find what works for her. And what works for one woman may not work for another. If I am critical of anyone it is of women who don't make a conscious effort to educate themselves on the implications of having a condition like PCOS but settle for something and claim it's not working for them. It really has nothing to do with one's age or orientation - perhaps it's a personality trait of sticking to the tried and tested and expecting it to work.

    I only blog about infertility, but my battle with PCOS has not been short at all. I've struggled with it for 16 years - since I hit puberty. As a teenager I have suffered from other effects of PCOS; major self esteem issues, anxiety, social phobia, insomnia, hair loss and major depression to the point of being suicidal my parents had me see a shrink - all this while I was quite slim and physically active. Acne was the only physical symptom I had at that time. Those were very dark years that I rarely talk about and needless to say, I've had my own struggles. Like most women I didn't think all these things were related. The infertility aspect of PCOS only started around a few years before I got married. It was after educating myself about the condition I realized those miserable years (which continued well into my early twenties) was as a result of having a natural predisposition to developing conditions like depression, metabolic X, PCOS, diabetes, etc,.

    Needless to say, I know what it's like to be helpless and feel that you're at the mercy of circumstances beyond your control. I overcame all my issues by doing the very things that scared me to death. If I had been popping pills like my shrink wanted me to I'd still be doing that till this very day and moaning about how I'm not getting better. I emerged from this dark phase of my life realizing that I am my greatest strength and as long as I believe I have it in my power to improve my condition I will find a way to do it no matter how long it takes. I may have been born with it, but I wasn't going to let it ruin my life!


  5. ..........

    When I harp on about the natural approach, I mean it as the first line of action regardless of whether or not it works because first and foremost maintaining a healthy BMI not only improves the quality of life and decreases ones risk of developing other illnesses, it also makes ones body more 'accepting' of medical intervention. Not to mention the fact that it actually works for MAJORITY of overweight women with PCOS. I've also always said on my blog that overcoming certain vitamin and nutrient deficiency can also improve one's condition dramatically, like flaxseed did for me.

    If my post sounded judgmental it's because I don't want other women to make the same mistakes I did. I wish I'd known so many years ago what I know now. I wrote this post in frustration because I see so many women that can benefit from a few simple changes yet chose to do nothing about it. I can understand women who were diagnosed decades ago where there was very little access to information about the condition. But in this time and age there really is no excuse for someone not to educate themselves about the condition. If I had listened to my doctor years ago who wanted to start me on fertility treatments while I was severely overweight I would have had 6 rounds of clomid that would have been a waste of time, emotions and money even though my body wasn't responding. Something told me it wasn't right and I opted out against his insistence. I just don't want other women to make the same mistakes I made by not first priming their body naturally before trying to induce ovulation.

    On another note, some women ARE lazy (normally I wouldn't care, but I blame it on the pregnancy hormones, lol) and I have come across a lot of them not only on forums but in real life as well. The 'I can't do that', 'I don't have time for that' bunch. I want to shake them and slap them across the face. If I had read this post on another blog a few years ago I would have sat up straight and done some serious thinking rather than feeling offended. I would have had an 'Aha!' moment and gone and done something about my situation.

    I'm really glad you found what worked for you, though it didn't come easy. If we had given up neither of us would be where we are today. We know what we wanted and we went for it; if one thing didn't work, we moved unto something else and tried that too. We kept trying until something clicked. My blog is about my thoughts and rantings, anyone can take what they want from it. But if nothing else, I would like anyone reading it to at least feel that they have some semblance of control over their destiny whether it takes 5 or 10 or 20 years, if you believe you can overcome it, then you will.

    Personally, I feel I know my body more than any doctor. Maybe it's because I've had too many dodgy ones who are dismissive and just want to pump me with drugs rather than getting to the bottom of the problem, but I'll admit that I defy a lot of what they say and go by my instincts instead. But that's just me. Doesn't mean everyone should do the same. Really, at the end of the day it's everyone prerogative to do what's best for them.

    Hope you're doing well and 'bumping' along nicely, :) I always appreciate your input, any day, :)

    Take care,


  6. Am soo glad to finally see a nigerian who i can relate with......suddenly looked to me like there wasnt anyone in 9ja I could relate to and all fertility communities were far away...Its good to feel motivated by someone who was once in ur shoes ...I was googling pcos and IuI which my doctor suggested and I was furious about when i stumbled across your stealing time off work to do this but i would gladly keep coming back to read...and congrats the the tiny one who is on his way out !!

  7. Helo TMO, sorry for the late reply, blogger has been giving me problems hence I wasn't able to log in much less comment as a visitor. I'm glad you found my blog. What is 'lul' if I may ask? Doctors are dodgy, and unfortunately a lot of women with fertility issues in NIgeria see a GP rather than an endocrinologist because we don't know. Most GPs play a guessing game when infertility is concerned because it's not their area of specialty. They have a very broad understanding which can be very annoying.

    I hope you've been able to get a second opinion or at least get a definite diagnoses for your condition.

    Thanks for the warm wishes, :) You're always welcome on my blog, fell free to share whatever is on your mind and I'll be more than happy to share my experience with you. Hope to hear more from you. Take care, :)