Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder affecting women. Generally, health websites say PCOS affects between 5-10% of the population. However, a Melbourne study published in 2005 found the figure could be as high as 12 per cent, that’s one in eight women – or half a million Australian women of child-bearing age.
The problem is that most women do not know they have it and put up with symptoms such as weight gain, bad skin and pain by putting it down to period pain.
Mardi MacDonald was one of those women. She was 95 kilos when she was diagnosed with PCOS. Here is her story.
What is PCOS?
“PCOS is when there are many cysts on the ovary which cause irregular periods. It is a hormonal imbalance, which affects many hormones - Oestrogen, Androgen and Insulin Resistance. My main symptoms included carrying extra weight - up to 95kg - acne, sore breasts, oily skin, mood changes and abdominal pain. It was difficult to get pregnant.”
How long did you suffered from it for?
“I had always had horrible heavy painful periods. At 16 I was referred to a gynaecologist and had a ultrasound and laparoscopy to confirm diagnosis, which ruled out Endometriosis.”
How did you feel when doctors said it would be hard to conceive?
“When I was 16 I was sad that it may be difficult to have children but it was not until I was older and met my now husband that it really became upsetting because it was a possibility that we hade to discuss."
How did you turn your life around?
“I met Doreen Schwegler, a Naturopath at work and we had discussed weight loss and the importance of being within a healthy weight range for getting pregnant. Doreen educated me about weight loss and exercise. I became very motivated and followed a healthy eating and exercise program. In addition I was taking herbs, multi vitamins, essential fatty acids,
good 'bugs', zinc and increased my water intake.”
Was it hard to lose the weight?
“It was not too hard to lose the weight if I stuck to the healthy eating and exercise regimen, by the time I got to see Doreen I was VERY motivated. Don't get me wrong it was hard work and PCOS makes losing weight difficult! The hormone balancing herbs and other vitamins, etc I was taking made a huge difference. Seeing Doreen regularly and changing the herbs and nutrients as required was a huge motivation and support for me.”
What was your daily exercise and food regime like?
“My daily exercise regime was at least half an hour of good solid aerobic exercise, which included lots of dog walking up and down the local hills. My eating regime included eating a low GI and Ultra lite program and drinking lots of water.”
How did you feel when you found out you were pregnant?
I had done so many pregnancy tests (due to irregular periods) over the time I was trying to fall pregnant, that when I finally got pregnant I think I was shocked at first and absolutely beside myself with excitement! I rang my husband straight away at work!”
How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle now?
“I continue to eat well (most of the time) and I try to exercise regularly and take nutritional supplements. I now have three absolutely beautiful children and by working hard to get my weight and hormones sorted I was able to start my own family and felt and continue to feel fantastic within myself!”
To find a complementary healthcare practitioner and learn more about good hormone health visit www.tellmeabouthormones.com.au.