You’ve been having irregular periods (or none at all)… or you’ve been trying to conceive a baby for a while and finally talked to your doctor about what the hold-up is. Whatever the cause, it brought you to this diagnosis: You Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
This is exactly what I thought when I was first diagnosed back in the fall of 2008. Now what? Where do I go from here? Is conception impossible or just more difficult? At the time, my husband and I weren’t trying for our first baby yet. I was just trying to understand where the heck my period went. I had been off birth control for about 6 months, trying to clear my system of it, knowing that we’d probably start trying in 2009. During those 6 months off of birth control, everything was totally normal (prior to my pill days, my cycles were pretty irregular as well, but figured that was normal). Then, everything just stopped. I visited a GYN twice after my cycles were hitting 50+ days in length with negative pregnancy tests. I had been irregular before, but never that irregular. We induced my period both times. My doctor even did blood work to check my progesterone levels only to tell me, “Sorry, your level is 0.2, which means you definitely never ovulated so your period is nowhere in sight.” After the second time of “sorry, your progesterone is non-existent and your estrogen is through the roof” and inducing my period, she handed me Clomid and never once offered to monitor me. This was back when I didn’t know that you should be getting follicle ultrasounds while on Clomid. Her exact words were: “Try this for 6 months and if you’re not pregnant, I’ll refer you to the fertility clinic upstairs.”
I felt very pushed aside and like she didn’t want to deal with me. She didn’t even want me coming back in to see her until I was either pregnant or 6 months had passed. She never offered to do progesterone checks at 7dpo to see how I was responding, never offered ultrasounds… nothing.
Needless to say, after two rounds of Clomid, and finding out through SoulCysters that I was wasting my time with this woman, I fired her.
Yes, you can fire your doctor. Clomid isn’t candy and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Finding the Right Doctor
In February of 2009, I was very blessed to find the doctor that I still see today, who happens to not only be an OB/GYN, but also a fertility guru, willing to try anything to help her patients get pregnant. I seriously found a diamond. By August 2009, I was pregnant from Clomid, Metformin and Novarel, thanks to her relentless monitoring and encouragement. There aren’t many OBs out there who also understand infertility, as crazy as that sounds, so if you aren’t having luck with OBs in your area, head to the local fertility clinic and get started. If I didn’t have my OB, I’d be seeing a fertility clinic as well. You need a good doctor who is willing to listen to your concerns without making you feel like an idiot. You need someone who will be sensitive to your diagnosis and needs. That’s the #1 thing you need to do!
Understanding Your Symptoms
PCOS has a “textbook” definition, but I’ve never met a woman with only textbook symptoms, so don’t spend a lot of time over-analyzing why you’re different from the next woman who has it. Every woman is different. Many suffer from high testosterone levels and being severely overweight. I do not have high testosterone at all and only carry 20 lbs of extra baggage. Some women with PCOS don’t actually have classic polycystic ovaries… I do. Mine have strands of pearls on top of pearls on both of them. Little follicles just fighting for their chance to grow and unfortunately, never do. They rupture, it’s extremely painful, and I move on with my day. That’s me. You might be very different. Unfortunately, there just isn’t an answer as to why all women with PCOS are so different. It’s almost like there needs to be a type 1, type 2 and type 3. For the textbook definition, read here: PCOS Fact Sheet
In addition to every woman being symptomatically different, every woman responds to fertility medication differently. You need to be willing to try different things if you’re trying to conceive. Start small and work your way up. IT IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME. I repeat… IT IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME. Just because your cousin could only get pregnant with Follistim injects doesn’t mean you’re wasting your time starting with only 50mg of Clomid or 2.5mg of Femara. You have to start somewhere to see how you respond to protect you from ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is extremely painful… I’ve had it one time and it was excruciating. There are women out there who will very rudely tell you to never try Clomid, it’s “so bad for you”, and yet so many women do have success on it (*raising hand*). Keep that in mind and take things you read in those message boards with a grain of salt. You need to be willing to try different things to find out what works for you. If Clomid doesn’t work, at least you tried. If Femara doesn’t work, at least you tried. You did not waste your time. If your doctor wants to start you on injects, well, okay then! But never let someone tell you that you’re “wasting your time” or “clearly, you’re not in a hurry to get pregnant”. It’s rude. This is why it’s important to have a good doctor that you can trust – only they can tell you what is worthy of your time. For more information about some of the fertility medications often suggested for TTC with PCOS, read here: Treatments for Infertility Resulting from PCOS
You Are Not Alone
Remember that. There is an entire community online, between bloggers, YouTubers and message boards, of women suffering with PCOS and sharing their stories. Many come with pregnancy success, which is awesome, and some don’t, which breaks my heart. I’ve been in both places. I conceived my daughter nearly five years ago after a year of diagnosis and trying to conceive with Clomid, but for the last 2+ years, we’ve been unsuccessful conceiving a second child with Clomid and Femara. You are not alone. Please reach out if you’re looking for support, advice, or just someone to talk to. This is why I blog. I want to help other women and share my journey. Others who have done this have helped me greatly and all I want is to do the same.
So, you were just diagnosed with PCOS. Now what?
Make sure you have a good doctor.
Understand that your diagnosis is unique to you.
Know that you’re not wasting your time starting with conservative treatments.
Remember that you are not alone.
Send me a message if you need to talk or ask questions. I may not have all the answers, but I will sure try to help you find them!
Check out the second part to this post: You Were Just Diagnosed with PCOS… Now What? [part 2]