Megan’s PCOS story

Megan’s PCOS Story 

I’m Megan, the Community Manager at FUTURE WOMAN. I’m excited to share with you my PCOS journey – and how I went from missing periods, anxiety and hair loss to now feeling completely in control of my symptoms and even helping other women with their hormones.

Article highlights

  • Which PCOS symptoms I experienced.
  • The diet and treatment options I was offered by the NHS.
  • What I learned about PCOS and the four main types of PCOS.
  • How I regained my cycles with cyclical progesterone.
  • How genetics and hormone testing helped me further understand the root cause of my PCOS.
  • How I manage my PCOS today, including supplements, diet and exercise.

How my PCOS story started

Throughout my teenage years I suffered with typical PCOS symptoms like irregular periods, cystic acne (acne along the jawline) and hair loss. Looking back, I can see that I also experienced high levels of anxiety throughout my teenage years, due to the insecurities that came with these persistent symptoms. At around age 16 my periods stopped altogether. Finally I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 18.

I was passed round a number of different GPs and endocrinologists, but the advice was always the same – go on the contraceptive pill, lose weight and come back when you want to get pregnant. If you’re struggling with PCOS I’m sure you’re all too familiar with this advice! I followed all their recommendations. I started on the OCP Yasmin, and without proper guidance on how to lose weight, I started over-exercising and under-eating – and feeling worse. My cycles were now “regular” because I was on the pill, but I highly doubt they would have been if I hadn’t been taking it.

What I ended up learning about my PCOS type

It was around this time that I started taking my health into my own hands. I fell down a PCOS rabbit hole, reading as much research as I could around hormones and diet. 

I learned all about PCOS and what caused it. I learned that there are four different types of PCOS, which are determined by the drivers of those types: insulin-resistant PCOS, inflammatory PCOS, adrenal PCOS and post-pill PCOS.

My symptoms seemed consistent with insulin-resistant PCOS, which is the most common type of PCOS and accounts for about 70% of cases. It’s when you have too much insulin, which can impair ovulation and lead your ovaries to create testosterone (instead of oestrogen). Too much insulin also stimulates the pituitary gland to make more luteinizing hormone (LH) – and high LH means even more male hormones (also known as androgens) like testosterone.

What drives too much insulin? One of the main causes of high insulin is blood sugar imbalance caused by too much glucose and fructose in your diet. Suddenly, I understood why the simple message to ‘lose weight’ from the GP hadn’t helped and led to me under-eating and over-exercising – they hadn’t provided enough guidance on how to eat.

Armed with this new information, I could now eat more intelligently. I started incorporating more protein into my diet, reducing simple carbs like white bread and pasta, and cut out sugar (if I did eat something sweet, it was only as dessert, never as a snack).

I also started to understand how to exercise to support my overall health too. Rather than over-exercising and focusing on too much high-intensity exercise, I focused on incorporating more daily movement like walking 10,000 steps, and doing more low-impact exercise like yoga and pilates. 

How I finally regained my cycles 

In addition to changing up my diet and lifestyle, I also started working with an endocrinologist who specialised in bioidentical hormones and supplemented bioidentical progesterone. Taking cyclical progesterone is a relatively new treatment for women who suffer from PCOS, put forward by Canadian endocrinologist Professor Jerilynn Prior, but the main idea is that taking progesterone when the body isn’t producing its own (because of the lack of ovulation), slows down the surges of luteinizing hormone (LH). 

It definitely worked for me. I started taking cyclical body-identical progesterone (Utrogestan). It was prescribed continuously until I had a bleed, and then from there every two weeks until my cycle regulated. Alongside the dietary and lifestyle changes I had put into place, it took roughly one year for my cycles to become regular. The progesterone also made me feel less anxious. I was starting to feel more like myself!

What supplements I started taking to help my pcos symptoms

Once I saw how much of an impact good nutrition could have on my health, I decided to become a Health Coach and then studied Nutritional Therapy at the College of Naturopathic Medicine.  

One supplement I have consistently taken to help with my PCOS is inositol (a blend of d-chiro and myo inositol alongside meals). Inositol is comparable to metformin in its efficacy, helping to increase insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, support ovulation and egg health. 

I’ve also done a lot of research into the PCOS-gut link and how those with PCOS are more likely to have a less diverse microbiome as well as intestinal permeability, which often increase chronic inflammation. As I have slowly worked on healing my gut over the last few years, I have seen a world of difference with my symptoms. 

How genetics testing provided the missing puzzle piece

Our FUTURE WOMAN genetics tests gave me insight into my predisposition to PCOS, which was the missing puzzle piece for me. I had various SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) or variants on my genes related to my metabolism, as well as genes related to my thyroid (there is often a link between thyroid and PCOS).

It helped me understand why I may have been predisposed genetically to insulin-resistant PCOS. The SNPs (variations) on my metabolism genes suggest I have a higher risk of weight gain, insulin resistance and poor energy metabolism. For example, I have a SNP on my PGC1A gene which means that I am more likely to have poor sugar and fat metabolism, leading to an increased risk of insulin resistance. I also have a SNP on my LEPR gene which predisposes me to poor leptin receptivity. Leptin is our hormone that lets us know we are full, therefore a SNP here can increase my chances of weight gain and also type 2 diabetes. 

I also discovered I had two genetic variations for celiac disease, an aspect of my health I had never considered before testing. As my acne is one symptom that, whilst mostly resolved, still remains persistent, gluten is likely something for me to look into.

Knowing my genetic predispositions has added a few pieces of the puzzle to my overall health picture and helped me to understand how I can personalise my diet and lifestyle further, and implement further changes to support my genes and PCOS. 

How I manage my PCOS symptoms today

With everything I’ve learned about PCOS, I manage my PCOS with a mixture of supplements, diet and exercise. I finally feel in control of my PCOS rather than the other way round. My energy levels are consistent and it feels so empowering to have a healthy, regular cycle after so long without one. 

  • I balance my blood sugar, incorporating plenty of protein and fat at every meal.
  • I take inositol, omega 3 and probiotics, and I cycle adaptogenic herbs, such as reishi, depending on my stress levels.
  • I incorporate lots of movement into my day – I try to walk 10,000 steps daily, jump on the trampoline and do gentle barre/ pilates exercises.
  • I talk to other women suffering with PCOS like me – community is such an important part of any health journey.
 
 

References

 
 
Prior, Jerilynn via Hello Clue. The case for a new PCOS therapy.

Related Posts

Book your free 15 min consult

Share this article

Most Popular

New this week

Want to speak with an expert?

Book in for a FREE 15 minute consultation with a FUTURE WOMAN practitioner.

Check your symptoms