I have been reading your blog for about 6 months and very much enjoy your writing and perspective … but I am always bothered when you bring up the topic of PCOS for a number of reasons. Mostly because I have severe PCOS. I am on metformin (insulin support), spironolactone (testosterone inhibitor), and birth control. One of my ovaries was completely destroyed by scar tissue before I was even diagnosed. If my condition gets any worse, my endocrinologist has suggested that I go on a special-mix hormone injection on a bi-weekly basis as I’m pretty much maxed out on the pills. So please do not think that this email is coming from a lack of understanding. Trust me. I understand.
But PCOS does not make you over-weight. In fact, being over-weight can actually TRIGGER the symptoms of PCOS, i.e. many people’s symptoms lessen or completely disappear if they lose weight. Now I am not going to claim that losing weight isn’t more difficult when you have PCOS – most doctors now (finally) agree that it is. However, it is not impossible – and I think that it’s important that the public voices of the PCOS community are quite clear on that point. Many of your readers could be one of the lucky ones that can get real symptom relief upon losing weight.
Before I realized I had PCOS, I was a sugar addict (which obviously is the key driver for gaining weight with PCOS). Upon diagnosis, I was 175 pounds, i.e. over the healthy BMI zone – I’m 5’6 btw. I then started taking my medication, working out, closely monitoring my calorie intake, and working with my endocrinologist to set up a PCOS-friendly diet (i.e. no sugar, no white starch). I lost 40 pounds and am now back into a healthy range on the BMI scale though by no means rail thin. So I STILL have severe PCOS … but I’m no longer overweight.
I am not writing this to judge those women who want to lose weight and have a hard time doing so. I understand what it feels like to not be happy with your body and have to struggle twice as hard as others for every pound lost. But a message of hopelessness to PCOS women is not a responsible one and I encourage you to confirm my email with a doctor and adjust the messaging on your blog (and monitor commenters accordingly, who are sometimes misinformed on PCOS to an extreme level). You owe it to your very loyal readers to share the truth about their situation.
I don’t mind if you post this letter, though I’m guessing that you won’t.
I’m surprised that you think I wouldn’t post your letter, I think you make an interesting point.
Every persons weight/weight loss story is different and every PCOS story is different. I love that you’re bringing up another side of PCOS. I also appreciate that you’re willing to share your personal story.
My understanding of the connection between PCOS & Weigh Gain is that one can trigger the other, but there are mixed opinions about which does what. Its like the old adage “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” but that’s just scratching the surface of what triggers PCOS. I’ve met people with PCOS who are super skinny, so there’s not a 100% proven cause. But at the end of the day I am not a doctor, so I’m not qualified to debate PCOS. I can only talk about my history and experiences.
When I share my stories on TBGB, I never have the desire to send a “message of hopelessness” as you say. I’m kind of sad that you’ve interpreted my writing that way because I live my life just the opposite. The spirit of this blog is that being over weight is not the end of the world. For me, having PCOS is not the end of the world either.
Every Wednesday I talk about my weight loss and work outs… and when I gain weight I never blame PCOS. Weight loss with PCOS is possible, sometimes it just takes a little more dedication… its all about choices.
Hopefully your letter will shine some light on another experience and influence different thoughts, but I don’t plan on monitoring my readers comments. I like when people to speak their minds (as you did in your letter) and I also think its important for my fellow PSP’s to feel comfortable on TheBigGirlBlog… this is a safe space.
Anyway, congrats on your weight loss 40 pounds is a huge accomplishment!