In today’s society, everyone believes that a girl/woman is overweight because she eats a lot and does not exercise! This is not necessarily true! Many people walk around with health conditions that cause them to gain weight and/or do not allow them to lose weight no matter how hard they work out or how healthy they eat.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (“PCOS”) is one of those health conditions. PCOS is a hormonal disorder where women have cysts on the outer edge of their ovaries. Typical textbook PCOS ovaries, which I have, are said to have what is call the “pearl necklace” look. Close your eyes for a minute and picture a pearl necklace. Now picture that on an ovary. Not so pretty of a picture for someone who is going through infertility problems or for someone who cannot lose weight no matter how hard they try. Obesity can occur in women with PCOS, making them look extremely overweight. While not all women with PCOS are overweight, a majority of them are.
There are quite a few medical conditions that accompany PCOS, especially if obesity is a factor. Some of the conditions are:
Excessive dark facial and/or body hair
Type 2 Diabetes
Elevated levels of c-reactive protein (a cardiovascular disease marker)
Abnormal uterine bleeding
Cancer of the uterine lining or endometrial cancer due to exposure of high estrogen levels
High blood pressure
Severe liver inflammation caused by fat accumulation in the liver (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis)
Abnormal cholesterol and lipid levels, such as elevated triglycerides and/or low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
Risk of gestational diabetes or induced high blood pressure during pregnancy
High risk of cardiovascular disease (Metabolic syndrome)
I don’t know about you, but I do not remember discussing PCOS in health class. I remember them telling us that we would gain weight if we ate too much and were not active. Not once did they tell us that there are illnesses that cause people to be overweight/obese. I sure do hope that they are now teaching kids that if someone is overweight, they may have a medical condition.
Sure, PCOS does make some of us overweight, and sure we can exercise and diet to lose weight; however, it is going to take us just a little bit longer to see results as it would someone who does not have PCOS. It is very discouraging to workout during the week, eat around 1200 calories daily, and still see no movement on the scale. It makes us want to give up and not have to worry about counting calories, measuring out food, making protein shakes or making fruit juices. It makes us want to say, “screw you” to society and not care about the looks we get from people or comments that are said under their breath.
If you are living with PCOS and are living all of this with me…..major hugs to you my Cyster! We can get thru this. It is not an elective syndrome that we want to have. Don’t be afraid to share with your friends and family that you are living with PCOS. They may want to educate themselves a little to know what it is like to walk this path of your journey.
For those of you who know someone with PCOS, please be courteous to them and don’t cram a whole bunch of diet stuff down their throats. Trust me, we have plenty of other people, Doctors included, flashing diet type stuff in front of our faces all the time! Instead, be a friend/family member who is there for this person. Be their support system by offering to work out for them or teaching them how to eat clean. While we do have other Cysters we are in groups with and create bonds with, it helps to have the support and understanding of our loved ones!
So remember, when you see a girl/woman who is overweight, don’t be quick to judge her. She may be fighting the biggest struggle of her life living with PCOS. Instead, give her a smile and let her know that she’s not as invisible or alone as she feels that she is. One smile sometimes makes our whole day!!