PCOS Awareness Month

Don’t be ashamed of your story. It will inspire others.

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September is recognized as PCOS Awareness Month. A rather complex disorder with limited research for its cause and cure, PCOS affects many undiagnosed women.

The awareness of PCOS is not about identifying the disorder but focusing on the advantages of healthy and holistic living, and the impact it has on your quality of life to promote longevity.

I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 25. A few days before my 25th birthday, a cyst in my ovary ruptured causing extreme pelvic pain and hemorrhaging. I was unaware of what was happening and let it persist until I woke up on my birthday and realized I was forming blood clots. After speaking with my sisters in a state of panic, they told me to go to the ER and so I did. And on my 25th birthday, I spent 5 hours in the ER, received a referral to a GYN and was diagnosed two weeks later after blood work.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a genetic, hormone, metabolic, and reproductive disorder that affects 1-in-10 women. It is known as the leading cause of female infertility. Currently, the cause is unknown and there is no cure for this disorder. With an overproduction of male sex hormones, the common signs and symptoms can destroy any woman’s self-esteem.

common signs and symptoms:

Irregular periods

Excess facial and body hair

Severe acne

Small cysts in ovaries

Insulin Resistance

Anxiety and depression

Infertility

Weight gain

Male pattern hair loss

But wait, there’s more! If the symptoms are not bad enough, the lifelong conditions that may develop from PCOS are even worse.

These conditions include:

Severe anxiety and depression

Obesity

Endometrial cancer

Type 2 diabetes

Liver disease

Cardiovascular disease

But there is good news…

With the proper attention to your overall health, PCOS can be managed and I am living testament of that! Thankfully, my symptoms are not as severe as other women I have come across with the disorder. But this was not always the case. When I was first diagnosed, the main symptoms I suffered from was severe acne and weight gain. The doctor suggested that I start taking birth control and it helped me lose weight, but the acne remained, and the birth control had a ripple effect of new complications, so I decided to stop using it. Instead I started researching other alternative methods. By changing my diet, replacing dairy milk with almond or oat milk, regularly taking vitamins, and creating an active routine of regular exercise, I started noticing positive changes in my symptoms. As for my acne, I am very particular about my skin care routine and have spent years researching my skin type and the appropriate products to use for my acne prone skin.

Here are some ways to manage PCOS naturally:
Change your diet.

Some tips may include eating whole foods, balancing your carbs and protein intake, and eating foods that are natural anti-inflammatories. PS. Dairy is not your friend. It causes major inflammation.

Take your supplements.
Some supplements to consider:

Inositol- may help improve insulin resistance and infertility.

Cinnamon- also may help improve insulin resistance and regulate menstruation

Turmeric- serves as an anti-inflammatory

Maca Root- can boost fertility and libido by balancing hormone levels

Ashwagandha- balances cortisol levels which could improve stress and other symptoms of PCOS

Balanced exercise.

Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight which may alleviate symptoms of PCOS. But too much exercise or strenuous exercise can disrupt your hormones. Some exercises to consider is low impact ones such as yoga, swimming, and light aerobics. High intensity interval training may be helpful as well.

Make sleep a priority.

No sleep = higher stress levels, which is no good for PCOS. Sleep disturbances are more common for women with PCOS, says the woman who could not sleep for 28 straight hours once. To help with this, I have made my sleep routine a priority. I try to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and I try to wind down for bed no later than 8:30 pm (yes, I need that much time). I also take a warm shower beforehand, drink calming tea, and use a salt lamp and a diffuser by my bed. Lastly, no caffeine past 2 pm!!

Stress Reduction.

Reducing stress helps balances cortisol levels, which in turn, helps alleviate PCOS symptoms. Consider nature walks and yoga for reducing your stress levels. Also, there are other alternative methods such as acupuncture and reiki that may help reduce stress levels. Set time aside intentionally for your self-care.

There may not be a cure but with a healthy, balanced lifestyle, you can manage PCOS effectively and live a fulfilling life. But you still may have some questions…

Does PCOS go away?

Unfortunately, no. It is a lifelong condition, even if symptoms lessen over the years.

Can a woman with PCOS get pregnant naturally?

Yes, with proper health and weight management. Plenty of women with PCOS have carried pregnancies successfully and without any fertility treatments.

Can you use laser hair removal for the excessive facial hair?

There is no concrete answer for this one. It helps some women and others spend the money with little results. Laser hair removal may not leave you completely hairless, but it will decrease the amount of hair.

Male pattern hair loss??!

Yes, thinning of the hair will occur. You can try using hair products with black castor oil or adding flaxseed into your diet for the promotion of hair growth.

Does PCOS really cause anxiety and depression?

Absolutely, mainly because this is a hormonal condition. Hormone levels are all out of whack and certain neurotransmitters are blocked. Pair that with the insulin resistance and unstable sugar levels, cue the mood swings, anxiety, and depression. It is a recipe for disaster, trust me. More reason to focus on your physical and mental health.

If you are suffering from PCOS, I hope you found this post useful and informational. If you feel you may have PCOS, please get checked out immediately. It is better to know and find solutions on how to manage it, rather than prolong the effects. And if you would like to use any of the tips above, always, always, ALWAYS check with your physician first. I am not a doctor ya’ll! Sending you all lots of love! If you have any questions regarding this post or suggestions for future topics, don’t be a stranger 😊

Curly Girl in Corporate World.

I am not my hair. -India Arie

I didn’t always embrace my natural curls. My hair has been through extreme colors that damaged my hair. It has been fried and manipulated against its will. It has been chopped all off, AND has been left to grow its own wilderness. I never worried about the kinds of products I used on it. I never cared to condition it or do hot oil treatments. Although my hair was curly, it was never the kind of curls I wanted. My hair is fine and thin. It lacks volume and bounce. My curls are big and loose. I envy those that had massive amount of hair; curls that seemed to shrink and coil up. Those curls were beautiful, not mine. Once I discovered a flat iron, it was a wrap! I thought to myself, this is how my hair is supposed to be. This hair is beautiful. This warped perception began my unhealthy obsession with straight, “beautiful” hair, that went on for many years.

The first time I ever flat ironed my hair was at the age of 15. My Conair flat iron did me no justice when I think back on it, but I loved how long and shiny my hair was when it was straight. I was ashamed of my thin hair and my thinness seemed to magnify when it was curly. The sense of panic I feel, even to this very day, of seeing my hair fall out is ridiculous. I mean, I’m trying to keep what I have still on my head! In high school, I would wake up every morning at 5:30 am just to perfect my hair. There were days that I cried, due to its lack of volume, but excessive amounts of frizz. I decided that straight hair seemed to suit me. In my early 20’s, I began using the flat iron on my hair every single day. I would use a curling iron on the days I wanted to add a little pizzazz. My hair became my prized possession. It was long, dark, and full of shine. It made me look exotic and put together. It made me feel attractive, which is something I still struggle with. Straight hair during that time was my ultimate solution and I was sticking with it.

After many years of using the flat, my hair became very damaged. It became dry and brittle. My hair was constantly breaking off, leaving it filled with split ends. At this point, my curls were non existent. Anytime I tried to leave my hair in its natural state, this is what it turned out to…

I got tired of using my flat iron day in and day out. With curly hair becoming trendy again, I decided I would nurse my hair back to health at the age of 28. I got my first Deva cut in April of 2018 and chopped off over 4 inches of my hair. As I watched my crispy ends fall off the smock, I felt immediate relief. It was a fresh start. However, I was not prepared for the less than favorable reactions of returning to my curly hair.

When I started my corporate job last year, I stuck true to my roots. I started using products that were silicone and sulfate free. I began using masques and conditioners to promote growth and shine. I eased up on the hairspray and started using curl creams and vegan friendly gels. After a few months of consistent care, my curls came back healthier than ever…and it has been a struggle, especially at the workplace. I am one of the ONLY people there with naturally curly hair. It also doesn’t help that I am the only Hispanic as well. The few times I have straightened my hair, you should see the positive reactions I get- “Omg, your hair looks so soft and shiny.” “I had no idea your hair was this long!” “How long did it take you to straighten it?” “It looks so good, you should always wear it like this!” Or my personal favorite, “May I touch it?” Whoa. No the fuck you may not. It’s really offensive to hear these reactions because what they tell me is that you think less of me with my natural hair. One time, I read an article by Elle that stated that women with straight hair are perceived more seriously than girls with curly hair. It is considered more “professional.” Disheartening.

I shouldn’t feel inadequate because of my hair. I shouldn’t feel less put together than the average woman in the workplace. It is these negative perceptions that are causing little girls everywhere to look at themselves in the mirror and feel they must change in order to fit in. Because of these messed up societal ideas, mothers are making their little girls get damaging procedures done such as relaxers and hot combs are being put to their precious heads of hair. Going natural has been a difficult process for me. So many times, I want to pull out my beloved flat iron just to get that sleek look back. To be able to ‘fit in’ with my work peers. Comparison really is the thief of joy. I often remind myself why I did this in the first place. Yes, I wanted to get my natural curls back, but it was more than that. I wanted to learn how to love myself for who I really am,without all of the manipulation and facades. I wanted to learn to be comfortable in my own skin, to accept my unique beauty. Everyday is a struggle paired with a daily reminder. My hair is not what makes me beautiful. It is merely an accessory. I’m hoping one day I will look in the mirror and feel proud of what I see looking back at me. Until then, I’ll keep reminding myself. If anyone else has struggled with this, I would love to hear from you. What are some of the ways you have learned to love your hair? Do you still struggle? Do you ever feel overshadowed and intimidated by the women with straight hair in the workplace? Do you ever feel like you are perceived differently? Leave a comment and let’s have a conversation 🙂