Its been well over a year since I last posted, and its actually over 2 years since I weaned myself off Dianette. Time really flies doesnt it? If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know that I had good results for my alopecia on a mix of Dianette and Rogaine for about 3 years. Although at about the 3 year mark the improvement slowed down and stopped. I came off it because I knew at some point I’d want to get pregnant and since it wasnt really working anymore I thought it was a good time to stop.
I’ve had to read back over some of my posts on here and I had actually forgotten how irregular my periods were since stopping. But things did slowly improve but only a bit. I was eventually having a period every 30ish days at least. But in the last six months its been getting up to 34 days in cycle lengths and the periods were sometimes lasting 10 days. Not good.
My hair is no better if slightly worse. But I still have enough hair to clip my topper hair onto so I’m thankful for that. My acne has continued and if i dont have a spot somewhere on my face, I’ll at least have a scar from one spot or another. Facial hair seemed to be on the increase as time went on after stopping and I was having to pluck more.
To cut to the chase – my reason for posting after all this time – last month I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. But its not all doom and gloom! At least so far, anyway. I’ll explain..
We started trying to conceive in March 2014 I think. In Aprils cycle I started monitoring ovulation. I ovulated, we did “the dance” regularly around this time. Two days after the ovulation I noticed blood streaked vaginal mucus. A few days later I had sharp stabby pains on my lower right side perhaps near the ovary. As I’m sure you’ll know, the internet is full of conflicting information. Apparently this can be ovulation bleeding or implantation bleeding / pain and because of this I though I could be pregnant. It wasnt though.. I think.. Certainly I never found out what it was. Well the pain continued and I saw both a pharmacist and my GP. Both diagnosed an early miscarriage. Having since checked my dates, I dont think thats likely as it was far too soon for me to be pregnant. I was sent for a scan just to double check things and the sonographer saw polycystic ovaries but no actual ovarian cysts.
I never realised the difference before. Ovarian cysts are outside the ovary. Polycystic ovaries are smooth on the outside but have something like frog spawn on the inside and these too are called cysts. I also had a very dominant follicle (strangely named because its nothing to do with hair) inside the ovary – a very good sign for ovulation.
I had to go back to my GP to discuss it. But I’ll get to that in a minute. Years ago when searching for a diagnosis for my hair loss, i had hoped PCOS was the reason and even suggested it to the various doctors I saw. I also had the facial hair and acne which can indicate it too. I was very naive in hoping that I had it because I never realised what a nasty condition it can be. Anyway I was told that as all my blood work was fine and that my periods were regular (but i was on BCP, of course they were regular!), then I didnt have PCOS and was still searching for an answer to my hair loss. Back to the present and the GP told me after the ultrasound that PCOS doesnt always show up in blood work. She also said that you can have polycystic ovaries but not necessarily the syndrome. But because of my hair loss, acne, facial hair, irregular periods, low and behold I have PCOS!
Another indication is body shape. She said that women with estrogen dominance have fat collecting around the hips and thighs. Women with testosterone dominance (PCOS women) collect fat around the middle, and I certainly do. After my 5 stone weightloss a few years ago, my tummy shape remained the same – and a strange shape too. I have always felt that there had to be a reason for it and my mum has the same shape as well. Where as most women have a smoothish shape (whether flat or pot bellyish) I have one bulge above the belly button and another below. Think of a B shape if you were to look at me side on. Well apparently this can be a classic PCOS shape.
When talking about PCOS symptoms I should also mention the breast pain I was having. It was on the left side, sometimes underneath, sometimes going up to the left side. I ended up having a mammogram which was the scariest event in my life so far. Overdramatic? Well the process itself was fine but i found the possible result so frightening. But all was fine, panic over. Breast pain can be another symptom of PCOS too.
I have to say that on the PCOS diagnosis I concluded that I must have it fairly mild because an old colleague of mine with it would have periods going on for months at a time. She really suffered. But having told a friend I thought mine was mild, she said I was mad, because of how its affected my hair. Fair point. But one of the worst symptoms if you want to get pregnant is that it can affect ovulation. I feel so fortunate that I am ovulating, but I’m 35 this year and not getting any younger. I worry that I might stop ovulating if it gets worse. Having said that I’m seeing a nutritionist for it so things should get better, not worse. More on this shortly.
I’ve had no further blood tests for the PCOS. The GP said blood work isnt necessary for a diagnosis when you have all the symptoms. Well I know that insulin and blood sugar issues go hand in hand with PCOS. My nutritionist said I was going too long between meals and advised me to have healthy snacks to raise my blood sugar. I’ve done that for one month so far and the result being that my cycle actually lengthened rather than decreased, which was the aim. She also put me on saw palmetto and a liver support supplement and she said it may be too early to see results on the cycle lengths. The facial hair has decreased though! But I do wonder if I should have my blood sugar / insulin resistance looked at. I dont want to be wasting time.
Something that comforts me though is that my nutritionist says that every hormonal problem can be solved and erradicated with diet and herbs. I hope so! I’ve certainly read that one month someone can have polcystic ovaries showing on a scan and a few months later the ovary doesnt have anything wrong with it at all.
Being diagnosed brings me back to reading horror stories of the lasting effects of dianette and it did occur to me that it could be the reason for all this. But in actual fact, for me I think not. As a teenager I had bad facial hair – a monobrow and upper lip. I used to be bullied for it. So i think its always been there, lurking in the background and masked by my many years on BCP. And just now its finally showed itself in order to be diagnosed, so to speak.
Given that PCOS is linked to poor diet and exercise, had I not lost all the weight and started eating healthily, i might not be ovulating by now. There are meds for it though, metformin and clomid to name two.. We tried to conceive for two months and have stopped for three months since the diagnosis to try to get things a bit more regular and next month we’ll start again. If it goes on too long without results, I’ll see a specialist.
We shall see what the future brings!