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 😊

Keeping Calm with ASMR

Any time I mention ASMR, I either get a puzzled or a disturbed look from others. Many people either do not know about ASMR or they have major misconceptions about the current fad that is becoming more mainstream, especially in commercials- just think of the 2019 Super Bowl commercial featuring Zoe Kravitz and a Michelob beer. Before a few months ago, I was one of those people who had absolutely no clue what it was. Initially mentioned to me by a close friend, I shrugged it off until I discovered that one of my Instagram followers had a YouTube channel for ASMR. Full of curiosity, I decided to check it out. Dougha ASMR was my first experience and I absolutely loved it! Btw, check out her channel (pic below) 😊 Haven’t looked back since. I can honestly say I watch at least one ASMR video per day. It has done wonders for my mental health.  

What is ASMR? ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response which provides tingling sensations in the scalp and down the back of the neck, as experienced by some people in response to a specific gentle stimulus, often a particular sound. Please note that these ‘tingles’ are not usually sexual, although some forms of ASMR has been extremely sexualized. These sounds are labeled as triggers and often promote relaxation, and has been known to help with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Those who have gone down the ASMR rabbit hole, continue to rave about the benefits. So much, that these claims have caught the attention of several psychologists interested in conducting scientific research about the benefits of ASMR. Dr. Giulia Poerio of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology conducted a study and found that those who engaged in ASMR reported feeling relaxed, as well as feeling more positive and socially connected. There were also reports of decreased heart rates and increased endorphins in brain activity. These findings are comparable to findings of stress reduction techniques such as meditation. However, not everyone experiences the phenomenon of ASMR.  Scientists believe this is due to neurological nuances between different people, as well as some personality parameters. Stephen Smith, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Winnipeg, conducted a study in which 290 individuals with ASMR and 290 matched controls completed the Big Five Personality Inventory. Research showed that people who experience ASMR demonstrated significantly higher scores on Openness and Neuroticism, and significantly lower levels of Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness compared to matched controls. What this means is that if you experience ASMR, you tend to be more creative and have a broad range of interests, along with being more likely to experience sadness and anxiety. On the flipside, you are more likely to despise set schedules and often feel exhausted after socializing. There’s a whole science to it!

Speaking of triggers, I have a few I am found of. I really enjoy personal attention ASMR, the kind that tells you positive affirmations and how much you are appreciated. There are even some videos that do reiki cleansing and alleviate headaches; LOVE them. I also enjoy scratching sounds, especially when it is mic scratching- it literally sounds like howls of wind. And then there are some triggers I DO NOT like, like the videos of people eating excessive food, formally known as Mukbang. This was originated in South Korea and has grown popularity in the states. I noticed that when you search tags on IG for ASMR, Mukbang is what usually comes up. I can tolerate a video or two of it, but after a while, all of the mouth and chewing sounds makes my stomach turn. There is so much more than Mukbang, trust me! Some suggestions I have for ‘ASMRtists’ is Gibi ASMR- the queen of mic scratching; Karuna Satori ASMR- I love her reiki cleansing and fixes for insomnia; Batalas ASMR- she does a lot of fast and aggressive triggers which helps me concentrate hardcore; and of course Dougha ASMR- who opened my awareness with ASMR and has a really dope roleplay video for Cranial Eye Exam. For kicks and giggles, you can also find a video of Cardi B doing ASMR; I have to admit, I’m pleasantly surprised at how good she did.

ASMR is not for everyone, but I hope I have been able to shed some positive light on it. I have nothing but positive things to say about it, even when my own friends shun me and say I’m weird for enjoying it lol. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask away! I am not expert, but I am interested enough to dig around and find some research on it. Thank you for reading and happy Hump Day!