Diagnosed with PCOS at 15, I've spent the last 9 years searching for a way to live a happy and healthy life and be the best version of myself I can be. I started PCOS Project as a way to share my PCOS experience and be a resource for others.
I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in 2016 after I had my first miscarriage.
I was a little taken back by this, why was this only picked up now? I have had problems for years with my body – specifically with my period.
The Symptom My Doctor Didn’t Catch
I didn’t get my period until I was 16, but I have always been a tiny girl and I’ve done dance since I was six years old. Whilst my cycle wasn’t long, it was always regular. Here’s the part that wasn’t so regular, each time I had my period I was in so much pain – to the point I was hunched over with a heat pack.
As the years went on, the pain that
accompanied my period seemed to get worse. I decided to see a gynaecologist and
was put on the pill when I was 18 for pain and, as a bonus, for contraception.
My Struggle With Period Pain
The pill worked fine for me for a few years until the pain from my period got so bad that I was missing consistent days off of work and no manager could understand why I was taking so many days off. I literally couldn’t get out of bed and had to be carried to the doctors because the pain was so intense.
I went back to the gynaecologist and my pill was changed to something stronger. Unfortunately, this still did not help, and my pain got continually worse. My doctor suggested that I go off the pill to let my body normalize, and resume with the pill later on.
After stopping the pill, I had a regular
cycle for about a year.
After that, the pain resumed and back to the doctor I went. More blood tests, ultrasounds, etc. These tests picked up nothing, everything came back negative. Seeing as how my pain hadn’t gone away off the pill, I decided to try going back on it.
Month after month, I took more pain killers than I can count because the pain was so horrible.
Miscarriage and My PCOS Diagnosis
After a long while of dealing with this chronic pain, and when my husband and I decided to start a family, I went off the pill once again. I became pregnant within two months of coming off the pill.
Unfortunately, I had a missed miscarriage where my body didn’t recognise that I had miscarried. This is when I was diagnosed with PCOS. How I was diagnosed? The doctor gave me an information sheet about PCOS, but I was not provided much by her about how I got PCOS, or even what it was. In fact, I felt she didn’t even have many answers to give me. All she could tell me was that it showed in my blood work.
In November 2017 I miscarried again. Doctors were able to identify a cyst on my right ovary that has since (luckily) disappeared. Again, I received no answers, and no one could tell me how or why.
How I’m Doing Now
I am currently going through IVF. My husband and I have been trying to become pregnant again and decided to try IVF as we were not sure why I haven’t yet been able to get pregnant. We did some tests at our local IVF clinic and found out I have not been ovulating. My scans now show my ovaries are polycystic, which means I have several cysts.
We have four frozen embryos waiting until my body gets its butt into gear. Unfortunately, my hormones are all over the place again and I am waiting for my period to arrive to see if we can have our embryo transferred.
Whilst my pain is now non-existent, I have made huge changes to my lifestyle and what I put in my body. I take vegan omegas and nutraceuticals, which I feel has helped with my decreased period pain symptoms. I have no plans to go back on the pill, as I cannot get pregnant and I am no longer in that much pain where I am missing days off work. 🙂
To continue to follow more of Natalie’s story, look for her on Instagram at @natalie_louise_xx
A Final Note from Morgan at PCOS Project
Natalie’s story is one that so many women can relate to. Unfortunately, lean women with PCOS often go undiagnosed for years because PCOS is so strongly associated with obesity. It is often not until women are trying to conceive that women with lean-type PCOS end up getting diagnosed. (1) By this time, hormones have long been out of balance and insulin resistance has already progressed to a point that is hard to battle. Some studies report the prevalence of insulin resistance (IR) in lean-type PCOS to be 6-22% (2), but at that range and with the high percentage of missed or delayed diagnoses, it’s hard for this writer to believe that the incidence rate for IR is that low.
Lean women with PCOS also have a higher percentage (compared to normal weight women without PCOS) of having missed diagnoses of diabetes and heart conditions due to high cholesterol. (1)
Both lean and overweight women with PCOS go through unique challenges on a daily basis. The more we share our stories, like Natalie bravely has, the more we can help others understand the true impact that PCOS has on a global level.
This post falls under one of the symptoms of PCOS that many find too embarrassing to talk about. Well guess what ladies? I’m here to be your guide to the humiliating because I’ve been there and I want you to know that I UNDERSTAND. I understand how absolutely mortifying it is to find unwanted hair on parts of your body that hair should not be growing. I understand that the internet is permanent and me writing this may even be making people uncomfortable right now (LOL even I’m a bit uncomfortable). But the reality is that if we don’t talk about it then how are we going to tackle the problem or even feel comfortable in our own skin?
So here we go, let’s get awkward. Together. Well, hopefully. Don’t leave me here in my own weird discomfort… PLEASE.
So here’s the question of the century, at least for women with PCOS. Why does PCOS cause hair growth in the first place? All of this has to do with these little hormones called androgens – otherwise known as the estrogen precursors. This may be surprising to some who think of androgens as male hormones, but in fact, both men and women naturally have these in their bodies. In women, androgens are produced in the adrenal glands and in fat cells. When women with PCOS (or women in general as a matter of fact – women without PCOS can develop this issue too), have too much of these androgens (specifically: Testosterone, Androstenedione (A4), Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S), Androstenediol (A5), Androsterone, Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)) in their bodies, it can cause a condition known as hirsutism. (4) I’ve always found this word kind of ironic because for some reason it reminds me of “her” and “hair” at the same time. Not sure if that was some ironic joke created on purpose by the word gods, but you have to admit it is kind of funny (sometimes you have to laugh or you’ll cry, right?).
Hirsutism can arise in women without PCOS because all you need is a dash of extra androgen production and voila – you’ve got hair. This means, that if you have an androgen-secreting tumor, Cushing’s Syndrome, or other type of adrenal issue, hirsutism can arise. Some medications can also cause hirsutism. (3) Now, because most of you reading this have likely already been diagnosed with PCOS, it’s probable that PCOS is at the root of the androgen production and hirsutism. However, I already know some of you are opening other web browsers as you read this and are googling “symptoms of Cushing’s Syndrome” or “What is Cushing’s Syndrome” because that is totally something I would do.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of this post, I want to talk about one more thing – the exciting topic of hair growth cycles. Hair follicles have a life cycle of approximately six months. (2) Why is this important and relevant? In order to see a noticeable difference in hair growth when treating hirsutism, any hirsutism medication must be taken for at least a full six months – the same amount of time as the hair growth cycle. I realize six months is A LONG time, but I’ve included lots of options below for you to try while you’re waiting for those six months to roll by. Or, if you prefer not to take a medication, you can use these methods for the foreseeable future.
Just to be clear, many of the methods of hair removal that I’m going to discuss in this post are temporary. In order to tackle hirsutism head on, it’s necessary to use a mixture of different methods (lifestyle, self-care, medical, etc) to get the best results. I will also discuss a few permanent methods for those who are interested in learning more. But, my main intention in writing this post is to cover what has worked for me and others in removing specific areas of PCOS-related hair growth. I’ll also cover some troubleshooting for problems I’ve run into while attempting hair removal in these areas.
So here we go, here are all the ways to get bare in 2019. I thought about naming this post HAIR TORTURE 101, because honestly that’s how I feel about many forms of hair removal. But, to us ladies that suffer from PCOS-related hair growth, the pain is SO worth the reward. So let’s dive right in, it’s gonna get hairy…(sorry, I just couldn’t help myself).
Ok, so bleaching isn’t quite a method of hair removal but it is SO much better than actually removing each individual hair while your tender skin cries out in pain. I thought I’d add it here just as a reminder that it IS an option. So as a quick way to get us started…here are the pros and cons of bleaching.
Good bleach can actually lighten fine hairs enough for them to remain invisible (for a short while)
You get the idea….
Nasty chemical smell
Redness and sensitivity to bleaching agent
Being vulnerable to blackmail photos of you with bleach on your lip while you wait for it to do it’s magic (I speak from experience)
Thick and darker are harder to bleach
Does not actually remove hair
Well, no pain is still a huge pro in my book. On to the next method!
We are all familiar with this form of hair removal, in fact, it’s probably one of the most commonly used ways that we remove hair. I’m not going to go into the mechanics here since we all know how to use a razor. For me, this is a great way to remove hair from my legs and armpits – but I can’t use a razor anywhere else on my body or else I will get severe razor burn. I’m talking red bumps that will scar, ingrown hairs that won’t heal for weeks. Not just your run of the mill “oh that’s uncomfortable” razor burn. I’ve found that a lot of other women with PCOS also have sensitive skin and can’t use a razor on any other body part except for on their legs.To be honest, if I shave my armpits more than once every three days (and they really need to be shaved every day), then I get razor burn there too. It’s either razor burn or me trying to do arms at the gym without showing my pits too much….quite an interesting decision wouldn’t you say? Razor burn creme/solution I’m curious if you ladies have the same issues with shaving that I do? I’d love to hear your comments below!
The next way that we can remove hair is to pluck it. We tend to reserve plucking for the eyebrows (usually between waxing sessions), but I’ve found it to be an effective way to get rid of sparse dark hairs that show up on unwanted parts of the body. For me, this is usually my arms, my neck, or my under-chin area. Sometimes, I’ll even get them on my cheeks or my stomach as well. When my PCOS symptoms were a lot worse, my hair growth was also a lot worse. I was getting sporadic hair growth all over my body and the hairs seemed to pop-up almost overnight. Is it just me or does anyone else’s hair grow EXTREMELY quickly? I’m not just talking about the hair on my head but my entire body! Ugh. It’s like I pluck something and I swear I look in the mirror a day later and there that sucker is again. Some hairs I’ve gotten so used to them that I’ve thought about naming them…makes them seem less malicious somehow. Like ‘oh hey Henry how are you today?” or “Whaddup Irene how’s the view from down there”? Ok I’m weird, but when you have a condition like PCOS sometimes you just gotta laugh or you’ll cry. AM I RIGHT?!
Anyways, back to plucking. I’ve heard that some ladies have had lots of luck with epilators on their faces, cheeks, or upper lips. Personally, these little devices kinda freak me out. That’s just me being totally honest. But, it’s quick and easy and you can remove the hair yourself at home. If you don’t know what an epilator is, check it out here.
Waxing. What is there to say about waxing? It hurts, it works, it lasts for about 4-6 weeks. I used to be all about waxing, but over time I’ve found better alternatives (see the next section on Sugaring). Because my skin is so sensitive, the heat from the wax along with the fact that all of my hairs are being simultaneously pulled out at once can leave my poor skin red and sometimes even bleeding. In fact, I have some horror stories about hot waxing that would probably make you cry a little. I’ll share one with you with a word of caution – I had my eyebrows done at a waxing and nail salon that I had been going to for some time. The woman doing my brows did not pay attention to the temperature of the wax before she put it on my skin and I felt it burn my upper brow pretty bad. When she ripped it off it ripped off a layer of my skin as well and I was left wearing a nice scab above my brow for a few weeks after. To this day, I have a small scar there and cannot grow hair in that area. I actually have to put castor oil to help the hair growth so that my brows are the symmetrical. ALWAYS make sure your esthetician checks the temperature before waxing you.
In terms of how I’ve found waxing to be convenient for my PCOS hair growth – it’s pretty convenient for any area. Just be careful of sensitivity to heat and make sure to exfoliate regularly when the hair start to grow back in. Exfoliating regularly will prevent ingrown hairs. I only use hot wax for my eyebrows at this point in time, though I will sometimes use it for smaller areas on my body where hair grows close together (many women with PCOS mention their stomachs or backs as areas of concern). The great thing about waxing is it lasts longer than shaving and removes a larger area of hair at once than plucking could.
In order to save some time and money, I decided to order my own waxing kit on Amazon. I DIY only for the small areas that will sometimes annoy me, but not enough to actually go in for a wax. I DO NOT mess with my brows – there is no way I’m touching the arch that my incredible brow artist has worked for months (years?) to achieve. I DO, however, wax my upper lip (thanks lady at the nail salon for letting me know this is a problem whenever I get my nails done) and other areas of my body like my underarms, etc. Why, you ask, do I sometimes wax my underarms? (Is that weird? LOL.) Remember in the shaving section when I was discussing razor burn? Well, I realized that if I just waxed my underarms myself then the whole issue goes away. WORD OF CAUTION: Wax is hot. Your armpits are sensitive. BE CAREFUL. I’ve definitely burnt my pits a few times and it’s not fun. I still think that if you have the grit to pull out all those thick, tiny hairs from your pits – it is SO worth not having to shave.
YAY! My favorite method and the one I use on the reg for my bikini area. Sugaring not only removes hair but will also exfoliate the area and does not require heat. Pro Tip: Do not let the hair grow too long or it will be more painful when you get it sugared due to it “pulling” when the esthetician applies the sugar. Additionally, start exfoliating the area that was sugared around 3 days after the treatment to ensure you don’t get any ingrown hairs. For a full breakdown on the art of sugaring, see the article I wrote here (https://www.pcosproject.com/sugaring-101/).
Depilatory creams are not my favorite to be perfectly honest. First of all, I can never say the word depilatory correctly – I always want to pronounce it ‘delapitory’ instead (not really sure why). In addition to my strange inability to say this word correctly, I also can’t stand the chemical smell of these products. In my own personal use, I’ve found that I tend to be super sensitive to these creams and that they don’t remove the thicker hairs which are common with PCOS.
Honestly, again not one of my favorite hair removal methods but it does get the job done. There’s something kind of weird about the threading lady (or man, although have yet to encounter a threading man, to date) telling you to hold your skin in various directions while she takes a dental floss looking thread, sometimes puts it in her mouth, and then uses it to pull unwanted hair off of your face and body. Maybe I’m being dramatic about this, but I just find it kind of weird. Pros: Usually pretty inexpensive, lasts a decent amount of time, and no heat applied like with waxing which is great for gals with more sensitive skin. Cons: Kinda hurts, kinda weird.
Laser Hair Removal
Unfortunately, I don’t have any personal experience to be able to speak to this, but would love to know if someone else has had it done. Comment below if you’ve tried it!
What I have heard from friends who have had the procedure and through my own research is that Laser Hair Removal can be quite costly and require several (4-6) treatments to achieve the desired result. These treatments must be spaced out by several weeks (usually 4-6 weeks) and also require a yearly maintenance session after the desired result has been achieved. That being said, I know we all spend tons of time and effort trying to get rid of PCOS-related hair growth anyways, so this may still be a great option for those that don’t mind shelling out the cash up front for the procedure. In my unsolicited opinion – if you’re gonna spend tons of money over time looking for answers to this problem, yet you know a solution exists right here, you may as well shell out the money up front (if you can) instead of spending it over years without finding a solution that actually works.
Again, don’t have any personal experience to be able to attest to this hair-removal method, but would love to know if someone else has had it done. Here’s what I’ve heard about electrolysis: it kinda sucks. Here’s why. While electrolysis is a super effective method of removing hair, the way it works is essentially by inserting a very fine needle into the (individual) hair follicle and damaging it by applying an electric current. Hence, electrolysis. Electro – referring to electricity, Lysis – the breaking down or dissolution of (in this case, the hair follicle). I don’t know if it’s just me, but even the sound of that seems kinda gnarly. The general consensus on this procedure is that not surprisingly, it is pretty painful. Apparently, electrolysis is also quite expensive and generally best suited for small areas. While it can be performed on large areas, it seems this would have to be done over time.
Comment below if you’ve tried Electrolysis and can share your experience!
Vaniqa: Vaniqa (Eflornithine hydrochloride) is a cream that works to significantly slow the growth of unwanted hair but it does not actually remove it. In my understanding, Vaniqa is typically used for unwanted facial hair and takes several weeks (something like 6-8 weeks) for noticeable results. One thing to be aware of about Vaniqa is that it does not give permanent results. This means that as soon as you stop using it, hair growth will return to how it was before you began use. (1) Also be aware that it can cause redness and sensitivity in some women, so make sure to patch test it on another area before using it on yo’ pretty face!
Spironolactone: Spironolactone (Aldactone) is one of the most popular anti-androgens, though there are a few other options for treatment as well. I’ve included Spiro because I’ve taken it and know it’s effects, therefore am able to speak to them here. Additionally, some anti-androgens – like Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) and Cyproterone acetate are effective – but are not available in the US. (2) Therefore, I will mostly talk about Spiro here.
Anti-androgens work by either decreasing androgen production or by blocking the body’s androgen receptors. (2) The great thing about this is that taking an anti-androgen may help with other androgen-related symptoms like acne. I didn’t notice a huge change in my acne, but did notice that my skin did seem clearer overall. Comment below if you noticed a difference in your skin on Spiro (or another anti-androgen)!
Usually, anti-androgens are not prescribed until an oral contraceptive has been taken for 6 months and has not been effective in treating hair growth. If after taking an anti-androgen for a 6-month period, one finds the dosage to be ineffective, the dosage can then be increased.
One BIG thing to not about anti-androgens is that they can cause birth defects, so it is really important to continue to stay on birth control while on them. This is not something I am very familiar with so I will not say much on it, but I have read it in multiple sources. PCOS ladies who are TTC: stay away from this one if you are dealing with hair growth.
In regards to effectiveness and dosage, if after taking an anti-androgen for a 6-month period one finds the dosage to be ineffective, the dosage can then be increased.
A final note about Spiro: Spironolactone is a diuretic and is primarily used to treat high blood pressure (side note: as a potassium-sparing diuretic, it’s important to watch out for high potassium). When I first started taking Spiro, I had a lot of dizziness with it – likely from decreased blood pressure. I naturally have lower blood pressure, so I had a lot of dizziness upon standing and just in general. Be aware of this and be careful when you first start taking it so you can prevent any possible fainting spells.
Oral Contraceptives: There are a lot of pros and cons to taking birth control, none of which I will discuss here as we are talking strictly about hair growth. When it comes to PCOS-related hair growth stemming from androgen production, oral contraceptives can be a good option because they can lower the amount of free androgens in the body. (1) This can help symptoms, but for me it hasn’t worked 100%. I’d be curious if it has completely reduced hair growth for anyone. Comment below!
Needless to say, oral contraceptives would not be a good option for anyone TTC.
Well there you have it, all the options for getting rid of that annoying hair! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on all of this so drop a comment below, shoot me an email, DM me, or however else you crazy kids are communicating now a days.
I recently came across a fantastic piece of medical literature that I had to share with you. To my surprise, (and I don’t say this lightly) it’s likely one of the best reviews I’ve seen to date on the treatment options available for women with PCOS. Though the article is from 2011, I was impressed by the thorough and lengthy options it listed – many of which I don’t think are widely known.
If you read about PCOS on other blogs or even in clinical research, you often hear about the big treatment options. Metformin, Spironolactone, Oral Contraceptives, or, for those trying to get pregnant, IVF or other fertility treatments are often discussed. All of these options and more are mentioned in the review, but interestingly, the subject of alternative medicine came up as well.
Acupuncture for PCOS Relief?
While I’ve done a lot of research on natural therapies (not something that this article talks a lot about, but something that I talk about in other places on my site – see the article on vitex, for example), I haven’t done much research on alternative medicine. According to this review, some women have seen results and symptom relief from regular acupuncture.
“The benefit acupuncture seems to have for PCOS sufferers is in helping them regulate and manage their periods. However, it has also been shown to aid in weight loss and reducing headaches as well as improving patients’ moods and outlooks. Women with PCOS will have needles placed along the acupuncture meridians related to the reproductive system. This will help stimulate the organs, improve blood flow to the area, contribute to normalizing hormone levels, and promote the proper functioning of the reproductive system.” (1)
How awesome is that?! I had absolutely no idea that this was an available option for us. I swear, I’m so thankful for the people that perform (and fund) these studies and are advocating for women’s health through knowledge and research. GO SCIENCE! Just think what could happen if more providers, scientists, and politicians were aware of PCOS and would also advocate for additional treatment options. THIS is why PCOS awareness is so important! I could literally rant about this for days and days. In fact, maybe I’ll write an entire article (*cough* rant) about this very topic in the near future.
Be A Constant Learner, Be Your Own Health Advocate
In the meantime… I encourage you, as always, to advocate for your own health and keep growing your beautiful brain by reading the full article on treatment options here.
I’d love to see what your thoughts are on this article – comment below!
Keto Pancakes to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth and Maintain Ketosis
There are no cravings quite like Keto cravings. When I first started on Keto, I experienced cravings so intense, so debilitating, I would somehow find myself in my kitchen with some non-Keto food in-hand and no recollection of how I got there. In the final moments before the Keto betrayal, I’d come to my senses and swifty make my departure from the kitchen (throwing the betraying food out on my way). [Disclaimer: The previous events may have been an over-dramatization.]
These episodes made me realize that I needed to find a way to “satisfy my sweet tooth” without destroying all the hard work I’d put in to achieve my Ketogenic state. Here’s my biggest problem with this — I DESPISE the taste of artificial sugar. So many ‘Keto-Friendly” Snacks/Desserts have artificial sugar and they make me physically ill. This may also be because I do not react well to artificial sugars, they actually legitimately do make me feel sick…and not in a way you guys want me to explain here when I’m trying to make you all excited about these pancakes. How am I doing with that so far (LOL)? So yes, moral of the story is that I do not do well with artificial sugars so how do we make some dang good pancakes while still maintaining Ketosis?
Right in the pan.
Flipped and browned.
Almost ready to eat…
Here’s what I add on top. Generally I do 1 tbsp instead of the 2 (2 is one serving) of lakanto.
Time to eat!
As I’ve often found in life, the answer many a question is CHEESE. Yes, I’m serious. Cheese. Cheese solves many problems, and this one is no exception. We’re talking cream cheese in this case, that creamy, delicious spread that we don’t put on bagels because we’re Keto (unless someone knows of a good keto bagel recipe?!) but instead put into PANCAKES. OH YEAH.
So my beautiful Keto companions, get ready to taste these incredible Keto pancakes and literally look forward to breakfast every morning. No joke, I would be SO PUMPED for my Keto pancakes – I would get insanely excited when it was time to make them. And this is SHOCKING for anyone that knows me because I HATE to cook. Look at all of these caps I’m using — I’m getting so excited just writing about these babies! NOMOMNOMNOM (< me envisioning myself eating these right now).
Tips to Make Your Keto Pancake Journey A Bit Easier
Use a super hot pan to start out with and don’t put in your butter/ghee until you’re ready to pour in the batter.
These will be a bit thin, so anticipate that – you didn’t do anything wrong! Remember, these babies are made of egg and cream cheese so there’s not much body to give them thickness.
You CAN add other things like cinnamon to give them additional flavor, but keep in mind that depending on what you add it will also potentially add sugar/carbs. Be aware of this.
If you find that this serving size is too small for you (I find this is a perfect portion for me, but everyone is different!), you can easily double all of the ingredients (only need about ¾ tsp baking powder) to make a larger serving size.
Syrup Choice: If you are a super badass, you can use no syrup at all. That’s not how I roll but mad respect for people that eat their pancakes like that.
Unless you are going to go for a completely sugar-free syrup, this WILL add carbs to your pancakes.
As mentioned earlier, I’m not a fan of artificial sugar for several reasons (and some I did not mention, like health reasons and studies that have come out on various artificial sugars). Because of this, I choose syrups with monk fruit extract even though they do have a higher carb content.
My favorite is Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetened Maple Flavored Syrup (15 calories, 9 g carbs, 0 g sugar per 2 TBSP. It does have 5g of sugar alcohol.).
A Keto pancake recipe that will satisfy your cravings and make you look forward to breakfast each morning!
Keyword Keto, Keto Breakfast Recipes
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Servings 1 person
Author PCOS Project
1/4 cup almond flour
2 oz. cream cheese (softened)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon optional
1 tbsp Butter or Ghee for frying
In a medium-sized bowl, add almond flour, cream cheese, eggs, baking powder, and any optional ingredients such as cinnamon. Whisk until all ingredients are combined and smooth. Alternatively, if whisking makes you want to cry or you ain’t got no time for that, throw all these ingredients in a ninja and let her rip.
While you are blending/whisking, heat up a nonstick pan over medium heat and let the pan get nice and toasty. Once the batter has been prepared and just before prior to cooking the pancakes, melt ~1 tablespoon of butter in the pan to prevent the batter from sticking.
Pour in your batter and size the pancakes however your heart desires. I tend to keep them small to that they are easier to flip without breaking.
Cook until golden brown, usually about 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Transfer the cooked pancake to a plate and finish cooking the rest of the batter in the same manner as described previously.
Serve pancakes topped with butter or ghee and your favorite Keto-friendly syrup. I like Lakanto’s syrup! If you’re feeling nasty (in all the best ways), get after some bacon too because bacon is the other best part of being Keto!
There’s been a lot of talk in scientific community lately about a powerful plant with incredible therapeutic benefits. In fact, you’ve probably heard of it before. The plant? Cannabis. No, I’m not joking, I’m talking about Marijuana, people. Reefer. Bud. Ganga. Mary Jane. That gooooood grass. I’m totally serious, and if you’re surprised right now, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I was just as shocked as you are! But don’t start calling all your best buds (not a weed reference, I promise – purely coincidental) to tell them the news just yet. You see, marijuana contains several chemical substances, called cannabinoids. Believe it or not, there are actually over 85 of these cannabinoids in marijuana! The one that most people are familiar with is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)– this is what makes people feel ‘high’ when they smoke (vape, eat, or whatever the kids are doing now-a-days) it. THC is the psychoactive component and most prevalent cannabinoid in marijuana, but there are still at least 84 other cannabinoids that are now being studied and have huge potential for therapeutic use.
The cannabinoid that is almost as abundant as THC, but is non-psychoactive and has been under the microscope (LOL science jokes) for its potential is called CBD – short for Cannabidiol. CBD is a naturally occurring cannabinoid that works with the body’s Endocannaboid System (aka the ECS- more to come on this!). CBD is not psychoactive, but instead promotes a sense of calm, relaxation, and well-being.
You may or may not know this about me, but I studied Biology and Human Physiology at University. I love science, and if you’ve read my blog you know how much I like to nerd out when I write about different aspects of how the body works. So, imagine my surprise when I started doing some research on CBD oil only to find out that there’s a WHOLE SYSTEM in the body that I didn’t even know about! While this isn’t exactly University curriculum, I was amazed to discover that we have a system in our bodies called the Endocannabinoid System. In case you were dying to know, this system was discovered in the 90’s and helps to regulate all sorts of things like sleep, appetite and digestion, mood, immunity, reproduction and fertility, motor control, pain, memory, temperature regulation, and much more. You can read more about the Endocannabinoid System here, I thought this article did a great job of breaking down how important this system is for maintaining different processes in our body.
So, why am I rambling on about the Endocannabinoid System? WELL…besides the fact that I did warn you that I tend to nerd out when science is concerned, it’s crucial for what I am about to share about my experience with CBD and why CBD is important in the first place. The Endocannabinoid System is made up of a bunch of cells that can recognize different cannabinoids. These specific cells are called receptors, and they are known as cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2 (CB1 and CB2). When these cells recognize a cannabinoid, they react in a specific way (ie: start or stop a process, regulate it). These receptors are spread all throughout our bodies – brain, organs, connective tissue, glands and immune cells. While CB1 receptors tend to be mainly in connective tissue, the nervous system, gonads, glands and organs, CB2 receptors tend to be found in the immune system.
It seems that the main role of the Endocannabinoid system is to maintain homeostasis (remember that word from biology?! Yay science!), it helps to make sure your processes are staying where they should (staying “the same”). Additionally, the endocannabinoid system in the brain and periphery plays a major role in controlling food intake and energy balance (2). Interestingly, because your body naturally has an Endocannabinoid System, it makes sense that your body would also produce endocannabinoids on it’s own. Guess what? It does! Your body produces endocannabinoids, essentially chemical messengers that help to maintain balance within the body. Where do these come from? Your diet! Your body creates these endocannabinoids with the help of fatty acids, specifically from omega-3 fatty acids (2). That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are getting enough healthy fat in your diet! So here’s your chance to order that guac at Chipotle. I know it’s extra, but this is scientific proof that it’s good for you – so live ya’ life! ‘The body’s endocannabinoid system relies on the natural production of endogenous cannabinoids in order to function properly’ (2). In order to produce enough of these endogenous cannabinoids, your body must have sufficient omega-3 fatty acids. When things fall out of balance, and your ECS becomes dysregulated, conditions like fibromyalgia, IBS, and others can develop. THIS, my friends, leads me to why I decided to try CBD oil. And yes….I do realize that was a long, albeit necessary (I promise!) explanation! Thanks for nerding out with me for a bit up there!
I was diagnosed with PCOS as the age of 15, read a little more on my story here or here. Throw in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and IBS, and my motive for giving CBD oil a try may be becoming clearer by the second! Within the span of a week, I often deal with symptoms like migraines, joint pain, anxiety, pelvic pain, severe fatigue, strange fluctuations in appetite, digestive distress, bloating, cold fingers and toes, and others. My symptoms come and go, but my digestive issues, migraines, anxiety, and fatigue are the most debilitating as they interfere the most with my day to day life. I have been trying my best to switch to natural forms of therapy, as I hate being on so many prescription drugs. Over the past year, I have made many modifications to my prescriptions. That was my first step towards moving to a more holistic approach. The problem is, some days my medications don’t work and I can only take so many NSAIDs when I’m in pain without feeling like I’m destroying my stomach and liver. I hated feeling like a slave to my body’s symptoms that day or to my medications. Was there another option? It turns out, that option had to do with taking advantage of my Endocannabinoid System in the form of CBD oil (TOLD YA it was important!).
I was concerned about buying a CBD oil that wouldn’t be organic so I found a store, For The Ageless, that selects only organic CBD and provides certificates to prove its CBD content. I chose Biopurus 10% because of it is raw with no additives and is cold-pressed, according to the site using Supercritical CO2 (which is “hemp’s Gold Standard extraction method”). It is also THC free. Since I’m fancy schmancy, I couldn’t just try out any old CBD oil. I wanted to try out the best so that I could really get a great understanding on whether or not CBD would help my symptoms.
CBD Oil Strength
One thing that really confused me when first looking into various CBD oils, is the percentage of CBD oil on the bottle. I saw that concentrations varied between different preparations, from 1 mg per dose to hundreds of milligrams but I did not understand what this meant, why it was important, or where that percentage came from. In my head I thought (or maybe I said this out loud, who knows), “why does it say 10% CBD oil if it’s supposed to be all CBD oil?” Have no fear, I have an answer for you. This percentage means that in the total bottle of CBD oil (mL) is a specific amount of CBD oil (in mg), giving the total bottle a strength in %. For example, the product I used, Biopurus 10%, is 10mL of which 1000mg is CBD. That is how the strength of 10% is calculated. The Biopurus 10% bottle contains 250 drops, which is a 4-month supply if one is taking 2 drops a day. Hopefully that sheds a little light on that math problem….I’ll be honest I never really liked math.
CBD Oil Dosing
The next thing that came up for me was dosing. The obvious question here is not that I know my CBD oil strength, how much should I take? Well remember how I told you earlier that I was on a few medications? While I tried to eliminate all of them, there are still a few that I am on which begged another question. Would the CBD oil interact with any of my medications? I decided to opt for the easy route and got start searching “Will CBD oil interact with x medication?” for every medication that I take. Ok, there’s not that many, but still. It seemed like a lot of effort. So instead, I looked into dosing for being “medically sensitive”. What does being “medically sensitive” mean? According to The Realm of Caring, it is defined by one or more of the following: 1. Sensitive to medical interventions, 2. Is on pharmaceuticals, 3. Has LGS, 4. Has only absence seizures, or 5. Has only myoclonic seizures If the client is on an AED, anti-epileptic drug. Quite obviously I qualify for #2, so if you are wanting to try CBD and are on other medications, I would recommend starting on the “medically sensitive” dosing to see how your body reacts.
Example Dosing Regimen: “Medically-Sensitive”
Total Daily Dose If Taken 2x Daily
Weeks 1-4 25mg 12.5mg 2x daily
Weeks 5-8 50mg 25mg 2x daily
Weeks 9-12 75mg 37.5mg 2x daily
Weeks 13-16 100mg 50mg 2x daily
Example Dosing Regimen: NOT “Medically-Sensitive”
Total Daily Dose If Taken 2x Daily
Weeks 1-4 50mg: 25mg 2x daily
Weeks 5-8 100mg: 50mg 2x daily
Weeks 9-12 150mg: 75mg 2x daily
Weeks 13-16 200mg: 100mg 2x daily
CBD Oil and Drug Interactions
The “medically sensitive” dosage regimen seemed to work well for me and I did not have any strange side effects when starting the CBD oil. If you are otherwise concerned about potential drug interactions, feel free to read this article.
How to Take CBD Oil
One of the biggest issues that came up for me surrounded the topic of how to take CBD oil. Sublingual application, or placing the oil under the tongue, is the best way for the oil to absorb. This is because the oil can be directly absorbed through the mucuous membranes under the tongue and directly into the bloodstream via the tiny capillaries that are plentiful in the mouth. This method of application also bypasses the digestive system and liver, which would lessen the effects of the CBD oil. Sublingual application allows for the oil to enter the bloodstream and quickly interact with the ECS.
The application itself wasn’t so much the problem for me, but I just couldn’t get used to the taste of the oil. Laugh if you will, but it is just very….herbal. I eventually devised a way to apply the oil in just a way that I avoided tasting it, but this was honestly the worst part of the oil for me. It’s not that it even tasted bad per say, more bitter.
CBD Dosing for Commonly Associated Uses
To treat chronic pain: 2.5-20 mg CBD by mouth for an average of 25 days.
To treat epilepsy: 200-300 mg of CBD by mouth daily.
To treat sleep disorders: 40-160 mg CBD by mouth.
CBD and PCOS
Remember all that science back there about the Endocannaboid system? Well, it’s gonna come in handy you smarty pants! Now that you’re basically a pro and know all that there is to know about the Endocannaboid system (might as well have a PHD in it as far as I’m concerned), you know that there are receptors for the ECS all over your body. Us women have ECS receptors in our reproductive system which makes it easy to understand why the ECS would play a role in conditions like PMS, menopause, endometriosis and dysmenorrhea. I’ve always had really painful menstrual cramps and pelvic pain because of my PCOS, so that was one reason why I was interested in trying out CBD. In doing some additional research, I found out another interesting fact. You may know that PCOS is an inflammatory condition. It causes inflammation within the body in addition to insulin resistance. There is strong preclinical evidence that cannabinoids (take for example, CBD oil) influence glucose and insulin sensitivity. While medical literature specifically mentions patients with diabetes, I wondered if this could have implications for women with PCOS as well. Another interesting thing to note (for all you THC lovers out there) is that ‘insulin sensitivity will likely be impaired by psychoactive constituents of cannabis like THC, while cannabinoids including CBD and tetrahydrocannabivarin (THVC) may increase sensitivity to insulin. CB1 activation is part of a feedback mechanism that reduces the body’s response to glucose and insulin’.(4). Additionally, studies have shown that ‘cannaboids have been shown to protect the host through induction of multiple anti-inflammatory pathways. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory response and subsequently attenuate disease symptoms’ (5).
While I did notice a significant reduction in pain associated with my menstrual cycle, I cannot say for certain if my insulin or inflammatory responses were affected as I did not get bloodwork done before and after. This would be an interesting test to do later on though, and I would be curious to see how successful it is for other women with PCOS.
CBD and anxiety
In some ways, CBD oils works like a natural anti-anxiety drug. From our current understanding, it works in similar ways that pharmaceutical anti-anxiety drugs do, acting on the serotonin signaling in the brain. I have shared..
I am seriously SO friggin excited to share these with you guys, I’ve been peeing my pants with excitement for weeks as I’ve been waiting to share the news with you!
In honor of this amazing news, I have decided to make my first ever video to share the details of the packages with you! Super nervous about my first time on YOUTUBE (not sure why I’m using so many caps, I’m gonna dub it capitalization anxiety LOL), but here we go guys…Enjoy!
Please feel free to contact me at any time if you have any questions on the packages or if you would like further clarification on anything in particular. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or feel free to message me directly on Facebook or Instagram!
Hi there! For those that don’t already know me, my name is Morgan and I am the creator and author of the blog PCOS Project. I wanted to share a little of my story with you so that you could get to know me a bit better and why I decided to start PCOS Project!
It has taken me a while to write this post and share my entire story with you. In part, this is because my story is very long and emotional one, similar to many of your stories. But mostly, it’s because it brings back memories and emotions that are hard to deal with and it’s not always comfortable to think about. One thing I’ve realized is that to be someone that leads by example, you must get out of your comfort zone and get uncomfortable.
So what if it’s a little emotional to write out and share my story?! If it helps even a single person out there, or inspires someone to keep on going, then it was 100% worth it.
You may have seen part of this story on my collab post with Post IVF World on her blog. If not, feel free to check it out or read the rest of the story here.
So without further to do, I’d like to share my story about my journey with PCOS with you. Feel free to comment back with your story – I’d love to hear your story as well!
My journey has been a long one. When I was 15 years old, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). I had always been an active teenager and even played soccer for my high school team. In the course of three short months, I gained 30 lbs. I’d always eaten healthy and didn’t change any aspect of my diet, so I didn’t understand why I’d suddenly gained this weight. In addition to the weight gain, I completely lost my monthly cycle. I’d also experienced hair growth on my arms and stomach. As a girl in high school, still trying to figure out who she was, experiencing these symptoms was a lonely and difficult time. As if High School wasn’t already hard enough!
I’m the oldest child in my family and my mother has had normal Cycles her entire life. We could not figure out how it was possible to simply lose your period! With the support of my mother (I honestly don’t know if I could have done it without her), I visited several doctors who each told me to eat less and exercise more. Um, rude. Both my mom and I tried to tell the doctors about my healthy lifestyle – the weight gain and other symptoms did not make sense with how I was currently living. None of the doctors listened. This was an extremely frustrating time for me. I think about how little the doctors knew about PCOS 10 years ago, and my heart goes out to all the women who have lived through this condition for years before me. For years before I was diagnosed, when doctors were completely unaware of the condition and could provide no support- medically or emotionally. As much as I struggled, I can’t imagine what it would feel like to go undiagnosed with the condition like PCOS for an entire lifetime.
If I’ve learned anything in my own health journey, it’s that you must be the advocate for your own health and your own body. Only you know how you truly feel and what symptoms you are experiencing, regardless of what any medical professional tells you. As someone who has always been interested in research, I decided to start looking into my own symptoms. I scoured the internet, looking into the symptoms I was experiencing. At the time, I did not know that the weight gain, loss of my cycle, and hair growth were all related. I was mainly concerned with the fact that I could not seem to lose the weight that I had so quickly put on. I was still playing soccer for 2 hours every day and I seemed to be maintaining or even gaining weight. How could this be? I was frustrated, depressed, and exhausted. I would come home from soccer practice and fall asleep immediately, sleeping through the night until the next school day. Okay, maybe I’d shower first. That would be kind of gross if I didn’t. I promise I shower guys!
I wish I remembered the exact moment that I discovered PCOS. In some ways, maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t…it makes my journey more of a journey and less of a moment. One moment that could define me in such a heavy way. But, at some point in my research I remember looking into my difficulty losing weight and the correlation with insulin resistance. At this time, medicine knew very little about polycystic ovarian syndrome. Doctors did know, however, that PCOS and insulin resistance were linked. Mild weight gain and hormonal imbalances led to insulin resistance, which led to more weight gain. What a crap condition! As I read over the symptoms I started to see similarities in my own health. I had lost my period suddenly after a long while of having completely normal cycles. I was growing long black hairs on my arms and stomach. I’d even seen a few hairs on my chin (to my horror and dismay). You can’t show up to high school with hair on your chin, you just can’t. Before losing my cycle, my cramps were so painful that I had fainted several times. I often had to stay in bed because of how much pain I was in during my cycle. My skin had always been fair and because my complexion, I’d often been compared to a porcelain doll. Now my porcelain skin was covered in acne. While I thought that the acne was from a delayed wave of puberty, it seems that it could have a more Sinister cause. To be perfectly honest, I felt hairy, fat, and ugly, and I didn’t think it could get much worse. Let me tell you something ladies. NEVER Tell the universe that it can’t get worse. While dealing with my PCOS symptoms, I was also struggling with IBS. I would go two weeks without having a bowel movement. Yes, I’m going to talk about pooping. Sorry not sorry. I could hardly eat because there is no room for the food to go. I was miserable. I had no energy. I was bloated. So yea, it got worse!
All this misery gave me the motivation to attempt to get a PCOS diagnosis. I did some research and found an OBGYN that seemed to know her stuff. Looking back, the process of getting a diagnosis was actually fairly simple for me. I’ve heard so many stories of women who have struggled for years to get a diagnosis when they already knew that they had the condition. For me, learning about the condition and struggling to overcome it was the most difficult part of my journey. In my first appointment at the OBGYN, we simply talked about my condition and she put me on birth control. I was not happy with this course of treatment because I did not feel that it encompassed most of my symptoms, but I agree to try it. After a month or two, my cycle did come back. My cramps continued to be extremely painful and my weight did not change. Additionally, the hair growth did not seem to improve. I went back to the OBGYN a few months later to assess my progress. I had done some research on Metformin and its success in treating the symptoms of PCOS. At this time, very few doctors were using Metformin to treat PCOS though it was not unheard of and the doctors that were using it for having great results. I asked my OBGYN to try it and she agreed to write the script if I continue to stay on the birth control.
My journey with Metformin was a long and frustrating one. I had so much hope that Metformin would be the thing that helped me lose weight and reverse my insulin resistance (which I had been diagnosed with). Unfortunately, Metformin only caused me severe nausea, GI upset, vomiting, and some other unfriendly side effects.
Basically you guys, I couldn’t eat a thing and I puked and pooped my guts out. Ironically (although I’m sure none of you will be surprised by this), I DID NOT LOSE ANY WEIGHT DURING THIS TIME!!!!!!! WHY?!!!!!!! HOWWWWWWW?!!! Freaking body has betrayed me and now I’m puking and pooping all over the place and I can’t even eat and everything just sucks. That’s how I felt at the time at least! Even more ironically, after all that time of being so constipated and dealing with IBS, I thought that my body would react to “being cleansed”, but alas, no. Apparently I have no normal setting here, it’s one extreme or the other. <insert sigh here>
I was on the Metformin/BC combo for a few months before finding Glumetza, a different brand/formulation of Metformin that cost a buttload of money but didn’t give me any of the side effects that Metformin did. Overall, I believe I was on the Glumetza/BC combo for around 2 or 3 years with no outwards changes to my body (maybe it kept my insulin resistance from continuing to worsen, maybe not…we will never know for sure). I decided to go off the Glumetza at that time because I was entering college and could not afford any extra expenses.
Before I forget to mention it, throughout this time I was still continuing to exercise and eat well on a consistent basis. I was logging my exercise, nutrition, and bowel movements because all of my doctors would literally refuse to believe that I was exercising and eating well. I told them, my mom told them, but they refused to listen. So, I decided to start logging all of these things to PROVE once and for all that I was doing these things and the times. I even went to a new doctor to get a fresh opinion. The new doctor barely takes one look at me, only briefly looks at my notes and logs, and then turns to my mom and tells her, “Ma’am, I’m sorry to tell you this, but I believe your daughter has OCD and is fixated on her health. She is causing herself her own health issues by all of this fixation. I think we should put her on medication for her OCD immediately.” ….Wow. Just wow. But the scariest part of all of it? Not the doctor’s ignorance, not the fact that he didn’t even look at ANY of the information I brought to him. The scariest part of that visit was MY MOM. I’ve never seen her so angry in my entire life. She gave that doctor a TALKING TO….and that’s the understatement of the year. LOL! Go mom! Seriously don’t know what I would have done without that woman in my life! Lets all be clear here that while I may be slightly type A – I have no problem admitting that – I am nowhere NEAR being OCD. To have a doctor completely ignore all the medical data and symptoms, let alone the patient sitting in front of you that could have been examined (and no, he was NOT a psychiatrist if some of you were wondering, he was GP), just absolutely ridiculous. I’m getting heated just typing this!
As my journey continued, I started to see hope as the enemy. It was painful to hope because every time I hoped something would work, and it failed, it felt like another piece of me had shattered and fallen to the floor. How many pieces were left after all this brokenness that I had experienced?! In some ways, I felt like seeing that new doctor was the last of the hope that I had. I’m skipping a lot of other small parts to the story (otherwise you’d be sitting here reading for years), but just know that years and years of meds, doctors, and treatments taken a toll on the hope that I’d held onto. The hope that one day I’d be ‘normal’ and could actually just live a healthy lifestyle and have my body reflect that.
It really wasn’t until my senior year of college, after a lot more heartbreak and broken pieces, that I finally found an answer that allowed me to start seeing the results in my health that I’d waited so long to see. I wish I could tell you that it was a magic pill that I discovered which allowed me to lose the weight and finally feel healthy and confident in my skin. Unfortunately, we all know that life isn’t this easy. What is amazing, however, is that I found something to free me from my downward cycle of hopelessness and to shed my skin and become a new and improved version of myself. I’m not talking about my weight here, though that was a factor in my journey into self-love and healing. I’m talking about shedding my negativity, my inner ‘mean girl’, and my obsession with my outward appearance. I’m talking about loving myself and my body for the way that I am, despite my PCOS, despite the way that my body looks, and despite the fact that I may never be the definition of ‘beautiful’ to the media. None of that matters because I am beautiful to me, and that’s the most important thing that I’ve discovered so far.