In part one of my Journey with PCOS and Endometriosis , we left off with birth control seemingly being the solution to all of my problems. However, as time passed, I began to realise that the symptoms and risks of the pill weren’t worth it. Especially since I didn’t yet know the full extent of my health condition.
So, here’s part two of my journey with PCOS, Endometriosis and everything in between.
Stopping the contraceptive pill
I remained on Yaz until a little over a year later. I decided that I’d had enough of the vaginal dryness, increase in uncomfortable discharge, and relatively frequent episodes of thrush. So, I decided to stop the pill.
At first, it was great. My mind was clearer, my vagina felt healthier, and when the clock struck 7, I wasn’t concerned about ingesting synthetic hormones. However, around 3 months in, I noticed that I was starting to gain a bit of weight and that my period was becoming irregular again. Still, I chalked the latter up to being the result of deciding to stop the pill and decided that it will sort itself out soon.
The weight gain, however, started to worry me.
I understand that I am not overweight and that the gain in kilos was not drastic, however, it still sent me into a spiral of insecurity because I knew that I could’ve looked and felt better – I just didn’t know how to.
Confidence is extremely important to me and when I began feeling constantly swollen and inflamed, I started to obsess over different ways to fix it. I started to work out more, fixate on how much I was eating, and cut down on my consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar (which wasn’t that much to begin with), yet my weight was hardly budging. To add insult to injury, my sister’s wedding was approaching and I simply wanted to look my best.
Weight gain, weddings and water retention
Anyway, the wedding came and prior to it, several tears were shed knowing that, although I did not look bad, I did not think that I looked good either. And as someone who has struggled with body image from a very young age, that caused a bit of a personal stain on a very beautiful moment in my life.
In the months leading up to the wedding I was also living in the UK for an exchange program. I repeated the aforementioned cycle of closely watching my diet. This time, I was a bit more educated on gut health and my research led me to the suspicion that I had PCOS, so I tried to cut down on what I read were inflammatory foods (gluten, dairy and refined carbs) while adding things that would help to heal my gut.
Yet, the weight hardly budged, I was unhappy and my water retention was at an all-time high.
During this time, I didn’t get a period for two months – something that became worrying because I was quite sexually active. Yet, when the pregnancy test indicated that I was indeed not pregnant and my period was still missing, I began to have an inkling that something might not be okay. So I started researching PCOS and felt like it was pertinent that I go to a gynaecologist and explain my symptoms.
I had plans to come back to Malta in May of 2022 and in the six days I was there, I booked an appointment. All my suspicions were confirmed – I have PCOS.
When the doctor informed me of my problem I was both relieved and concerned. I was happy to know that I wasn’t going crazy and that my body was actually changing beyond my control. I also found comfort in the fact that starting the pill will revert the symptoms. However, it opened up a new avenue of previously uncontemplated worries – the main one being my fertility.
I’ve always been unsure about whether or not children are in my desired future, but, as I’ve gotten older and have been blessed with an incredible nephew, my outlook on parenthood has changed. So hearing that conceiving may be a bit difficult for me became a cause of concern.
Nonetheless, I went back on the pill to treat the PCOS and two months later, I got appendicitis.
Upon awakening from a routine laparoscopy, I was told that I have tissue similar to the lining of the womb growing outside of my uterus – i.e. endometriosis. This condition causes severe stomach cramps, pain during sex and it can sometimes be linked with IBS.
Once again, the fear of infertility popped right back up into the forefront of my mind and I quickly booked another gynae appointment. During this session, I was told that I just need to keep taking the pill but in a different sequence.
And so I did. All in all, I did a solid 7 months on the pill (first Yaz, then Mercillon). I then realised that the extreme impact on my mood started to affect my life and relationships. Now, I’m tackling my issues through other means, still medicinal but without the use of synthetic oestrogen and progesterone.
I only stopped the pill a month ago, so it’s too early to tell how this new method will affect my symptoms, although some have already improved.
My experience is individual and a lot of people with the same problems may not relate. However, if there’s anything I learned this past year is the importance of listening to your body. Hormonal issues are very complex. People with the same condition may not have the same manifested symptoms or a similar causal imbalance.
Consequently, it’s important to look deeply into the issue and find doctors who are willing to help you do it.
Respond to your body, stay informed and be persistent. Because no one is going to care more about your health than you.
I’d like to add that weight gain isn’t a negative thing – it’s a part of maturing. However, for me at that point, it was a big change that wasn’t normal for my body. Therefore, it highly affected my self-confidence with no help from my environment and personal security issues. All bodies are beautiful, but sometimes, unprecedented physical changes can indicate that something is wrong. In my case, two of those changes were water retention and weight gain. Nonetheless, this journey has been one of realising self-love. Weight gain isn’t no longer the centre of my world, my health is.
We’re sharing more experiences from Real Women and Parents of Malta on the blog – check them out!