My Journey With:

Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) ~ Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) ~ Focal Impaired Awareness (Complex Partial) Seizures ~ Fibromyalgia ~ Chronic Myofascial Pain (CMP) ~ Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) ~ TMJ Dysfunction ~ Bipolar Disorder Type I ~ Migraines ~ Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ~ Keratosis Pilaris (KP) ~ Complex-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) ~ Panic Disorder ~ Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) ~ Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) ~ Non-suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI or SI) ~ Painful Piezogenic Pedal Papules ~ Hashimoto's Thyroiditis ~ Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) ~ Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) ~ Multiple Phobias ~ Chronic Headaches

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What is PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)?

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a common endocrine disorder that affects one in ten women.  It is often mistaken for a reproductive disorder, but it isn't.  In fact, while most women have polycystic ovaries, not all women with PCOS do.  Also, there are women with polycystic ovaries that do not have PCOS.  That's why there is a huge push to change the name of PCOS, because it is a misnomer.  While 5% to 10% of women have PCOS, they are often misdiagnosed, or told to go to a psychiatrist for their physical and depressive issues.  Women are often not taken as seriously as men in the field of medicine, in fact there are some doctors who still diagnose women with "hysteria," a bogus diagnosis that means the doctor doesn't care about his patients enough to diagnose them with their real problem.  Only women had "hysteria."  The diagnosis of hysteria was most commonly used in Victorian times, and was cured by an involuntary hysterectomy, or by a doctor massaging a woman's genitles until she has an orgasm, dubbed a "hysterical paroxysm."  Another way to cure hysteria was for the doctor to spray a high power cold water jet onto her genitalia, or he'd use a vibrator, aka "massager," on the woman to give her an orgasm.  These "cures" would be considered sexual assault today, in Western countries.  But, I digress.

Normal Ovary vs Polycystic Ovary - PCOS
Normal Ovary vs Polycystic Ovary

The diagnosis criteria are not agreed upon, and right now there are three different diagnostic classification systems: the NIH Criteria, the Rotterdam Criteria, and the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society Criteria.

The NIH Criteria, created in 1990, means a woman must have all of the following symptoms for a diagnosis of PCOS.
1) oligoovulation, meaning infrequent or irregular ovulation.
2) signs of the male hormone androgen in excess (clinical or biochemical)
3) exclusion of other disorders that can result in menstrual irregularity and hyperandrogenism (androgen excess)

The Rotterdam Criteria was established in 2003, and a woman needs to have at least two of the following three criteria:
1) oligoovulation and/or anovulation (infrequent or irregular ovulation and/or no ovulation)
2) excess androgen activity
3) polycystic ovaries (by gynecologic ultrasound)
4) Other entities are excluded that would cause these.

To meet the Androgen Excess PCOS Society, in 2006, came up with criteria in which a woman has to have every symptom to make the diagnosis of PCOS:
1) excess androgen activity
2) oligoovulation/anovulation and/or polycystic ovaries
3) exclusion of other entities that would cause excess androgen activity

Polycystic Ovary vs Normal Ovary - PCOS
Polycystic Ovary vs Normal Ovary

This doesn't mean that these are the only symptoms of PCOS.  PCOS is a complex syndrome with no clear cause.  Here is a list of some of the more common PCOS symptoms:


  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Extensive coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Acne, often severe
  • Hirsutism (HER-suh-tiz-um) increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes
  • Weight gain
  • Problems with ovulation
  • Infertility because of lack of ovulation
  • Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods
  • Multiple, small cysts in the ovaries
  • Oily skin or dandruff
  • Weight gain or obesity, usually extra weight around the waist
  • Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
  • Hyperadrogenism (an excess of male hormones)
  • Chronic unopposed estrogen secretion
  • Acanthosis nigricans (patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black)
  • Skin tags (excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
  • Pelvic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep apnea
  • Preeclampsia during pregnancy (pregnancy induced high blood pressure)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Decrease in breast size
  • Deeper voice
  • Repeat miscarriages
  • Enlargement of the clitoris

Normal Ovary vs Polycystic Ovary - PCOS
Normal Ovary vs Polycystic Ovary
As you can see, PCOS causes a myriad of symptoms.  Some women's lives are greatly affected by it, while for others it's just a nuisance.  While we wait for both for doctors to reach a conclusion about the cause of PCOS, we also wait for the cure.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"The Witch's Life" by Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton (November 9, 1928 - October 4, 1974)


"The Witch's Life"

When I was a child
there was an old woman in our neighborhood whom we called The Witch.
All day she peered from her second story
window
from behind the wrinkled curtains
and sometimes she would open the window
and yell: Get out of my life!
She had hair like kelp
and a voice like a boulder.

I think of her sometimes now
and wonder if I am becoming her.
My shoes turn up like a jester's.
Clumps of my hair, as I write this,
curl up individually like toes.
I am shoveling the children out,
scoop after scoop.
Only my books anoint me,
and a few friends,
those who reach into my veins.
Maybe I am becoming a hermit,
opening the door for only
a few special animals?
Maybe my skull is too crowded
and it has no opening through which
to feed it soup?
Maybe I have plugged up my sockets
to keep the gods in?
Maybe, although my heart
is a kitten of butter,
I am blowing it up like a zeppelin.
Yes. It is the witch's life,
climbing the primordial climb,
a dream within a dream,
then sitting here
holding a basket of fire.

Anne Sexton

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