Before I was diagnosed with PCOS I had never heard of it before. I had irregular periods, the longest I went without a period was a year. I chalked it up to my system getting back to a natural state after being on birth control pills for 5 years straight. Well, after a year passed I got my period, then 100 or more days went before I had another one. I definitely thought it was weird, but at the same time “woohoo!” no period to deal with! I should mention that health insurance in Japan does not require a yearly check-up, unless you work for a company that requires it. Even then they probably wouldn’t test for fertility anyway.
After my husband and I got married in October 2014 we started talking about when we would like to start a family. We figured a year of being married and then we would start trying. In the beginning of 2015 I went to the U.S. to visit family and friends. During that time I met a good friend of mine that was pregnant at the time. She asked what our plans were for the future. When I mentioned that I rarely have periods she, of course, was concerned. I figured once I got home I would visit my OB-GYN for a check up to see how things were with my system.
I visited my doctor in February of 2015 and he diagnosed me with PCOS. He also highly recommended that my husband and I start trying right away and to start fertility treatments. I was shocked to hear that I would need medication to help me get pregnant. It was definitely not what you want to hear when you go in for a routine check up.
I wasn’t told much other than that he would start me off with clomid, a fertility drug that is commonly used. I didn’t get any explanation about what foods were good or bad for PCOS sufferers. I wasn’t taught about exercise or given suggestions for increasing vitamin and mineral intake. I had to find all of that out on my own. Well, sort of on my own. I was lucky, in the sense that, I had recently become really good friends with a woman who was dealing with fertility treatments for PCOS for 5 years. A combination of her wisdom and my research capabilities on the internet led me to learn a lot about PCOS and its affects on the body. As well as what I can do to help my body support a pregnancy.
One of the, unfortunate, side effects of Clomid was that I gained a good 10-15 pounds in one month. That’s one cycle of Clomid. My cravings had gone through the roof. I found myself constantly hungry and nauseated. That was fun. On top of that, I found that my energy levels had plummeted to the point that it was hard to get out of bed on a daily basis. My workouts that I had enjoyed so much were so hard to complete. The weights that I used to lift now felt so heavy. I couldn’t understand it! How could I not lift something that I, before, was making gains on? Why was I putting on pounds when I was eating the same amount as before and still pushing myself to workout at the same intensity as before? What was going on??
It also really didn’t help that every time I went to the gym someone felt it was necessary to point out to me that I had gained weight. It was “Hello, you look round in the face” or “Hi (continuous glances at my stomach or arms) How are you?” I started to avoid the gym which of course is not helpful when you want to lose weight. I bought kettle bells to use at home, I started taking walks around my neighborhood and doing yoga at home and the weight.kept.piling.on! My self-esteem was in the proverbial toilet. And this was just my first cycle!
My first cycle of Clomid was not effective. My dosage of 50 mg was too low and my ovaries were none responsive. Next time around my dosage was increased to 100 mg. Why hello nausea, hello my old friend weight gain and cravings and nice to meet you migraines! The migraines were terrible. The pain would shoot up from the nape of my neck and out the middle of my forehead. “Ibuprofen? Yes, please! How many? How many you got?” I would take at least 4 and if I was lucky the migraines would become a dull ache. Sleeping every once in a while helped, but more often than not I woke with my head still throbbing and an ache in my lower back. My doctor didn’t prescribe anything (the pain killers in Japan are weak anyway) and he said to take whatever I usually take for a headache. At this check up my ovaries were at a good size, so my husband and I gave it our best. 🙂 I was told to return in a week.
Well, Aunt Flo decided to visit earlier than usual. So early that my doctor’s jaw dropped from the news that I had my period already. I may not have mentioned that every visit to the doctor meant a lovely echo wand being inserted, you know where, for an internal ultrasound. He told me that my progesterone levels may have dropped too early, but since they didn’t do a blood test beforehand he couldn’t know for sure. I would have to go through another round of Clomid, but he said that I was experiencing a lot of side effects. So we were going to give my body a break from the meds. I was relieved and saddened at the same time. It was a delay in getting pregnant, but it, hopefully, meant my migraines would disappear for a bit.
Well, they did and they didn’t. I will continue this story in another post, because it is related to my food allergies. One last thing I do want to mention is that all this happened over 4 months. This was 4 months of expecting some good news and not getting any. 4 months of having my self-esteem eaten away. 4 months of fighting my food cravings. I definitely needed the break. So, my husband and I took our delayed honeymoon and went to Okinawa for a week! Oh, what a week it was! Definitely what we needed. A get away from the madness of Clomid. A chance for a little happy bonding time, yay!