This article has also been published as a thought on The Mighty.
My first thought whenever I’m diagnosed with a new illness is Did I cause this? Of course, the answer is almost always, No. However, with my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), there is a lingering feeling that I my own actions lead to me developing this condition.
I found out that I had PCOS following a routine ultrasound to investigate my chronic pelvic pain. The pains started after I’d stopped taking a progesterone only contraceptive. When my periods came back, they were very light and dis-proportionally painful; which was very different to how they’d been before I’d started taking the pill. Previously, I had a regular 28-day cycle with a moderate to heavy flow with normal levels of menstrual cramps. My blood tests also showed that I had very low levels of progesterone. I knew that PCOS was a listed side effect of the medication that I had been taking, but I did not think twice about it as I was a teenager when I started taking it any my only priory was preventing myself from becoming a teen mum. (It is important to note that this is a rare side effect of this particular contraceptive pill).
The gynaecologist that I saw was unhelpful. He was not concerned about my condition because I was only 23 at the time. He brushed my PCOS off as no big deal, even though it can lead to fertility problems. I was told that over time my periods would return to normal and my fertility would not be compromised. Three years later, I still have very light periods and severe pelvic pain. My other symptoms include hair loss, acne and fluid retention. I have tried the PCOS diet, but that did not help me. I have not been offered any treatment to help me with my PCOS symptoms other than strong painkillers.
I am now approaching the stage of my life where my husband and I would like to start trying for a baby. My PCOS casts a dark cloud over what should be a happy and exciting time in my life. I know that my progesterone levels are currently too low to support a pregnancy and I do not ovulate every month. If I could go back in time, I would tell my teenage self to carefully consider the side effects of the contraceptive before taking it. There are many other options available such as the implant or IUD.
Did I cause my PCOS?
Fundamentally, I do not think that I caused myself this illness. However, I do think that the prescribing doctor should have been more upfront at the time over the possible side effects of the medication so that I could have made a more informed decision. Whenever you’re prescribed a new medication, it is important to weigh up the benefits and possible side effects with your doctor before taking it.
Thank you for reading to the end of this post! If you enjoyed this post, please consider ‘buying me a coffee’ by donating to my Ko-Fi today. Your donation will help me grow my blog further, reach a wider audience and ultimately improve the lives of those who live with a chronic illness. You can also help me by visiting my Etsy shop where I sell handmade items.