PCOS and the Endocrine System

This was a difficult post for me to write, it hits so close to home for me and I didn’t want to sound negative or rude. As always I only want the absolute best for all my Cysters and for them to experience the joy and happiness that I have been blessed with as a Mom. As a Woman of Teal (PCOS Cyster) I try so very hard to be the voice of encouragement to all my Cysters. It’s not easy seeing them suffer daily with the various symptoms of PCOS and at times it’s heart breaking knowing that some have gone most of their young adult life without knowing what it’s like to be a mother. I do count myself very blessed and undeserving of the child I have. Let’s face it, after being told by two doctors that I was never going to have any children unless it’s with medical assistance that left me pretty hopeless and certain that I would never know what it’s like to be a mother. God of course had other plans and while my choices led me to having a child outside of wedlock I do not regret any of it. I never knew such love could exist! However, it has come with a price…

You see, having PCOS isn’t just about my ovaries being affected, sure that’s a big part. I don’t ovulate like regular women, my uterus does not shed like it’s supposed to and I gain weight by just looking at food on the internet (I’d laugh but it’s not funny). PCOS is a misnomer for a broader issue. Stein-Leventhal is a name I’m still having to get used to. It’s actually more about the endocrine system as a whole rather than just pinpointing a certain factor.

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Seeing this image makes me think of “the hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone”….ok back to seriousness 🙂 The endocrine system consists of  glands which secretes different types of hormones directly into the bloodstream. For a woman with PCOS, our bodies tend to put out more testosterone than the average female body does. This causes some to have male pattern baldness, abnormal hair growth on the face, chest, back, hands/knuckles, feet, etc. Some women experience very light monthly cycles while others go for months without a period at all. Not all PCOS women experience the same symptoms, many women suffer from an inability to respond to their own insulin (I know I do which is why I treat it with a lower carb lifestyle), rendering us insulin resistant. This is why some women with PCOS have diabetes and other health related issues. Knowing all of this now, I can see how it is affecting my own child.

I was never one of those women who pined for a child. I just thought it would never happen, why wish for something that wasn’t going to be? I didn’t want to set myself up for a heartache if I could help it. That didn’t give me the green light to be loose, in fact I remained a virgin until I was 21 and have had only one partner in my life. Being single and celibate these last ten years has taught me a lot and learning more about how PCOS not only affects me but also my child has caused me to rethink this “I want more children” idea.  Certainly if it is God’s will for me to have more children I will not say no, I’ll just have to rely more on Him to protect those children from related health issues. With the gluttonous research that’s out there for girls, young ladies, and women who suffer from PCOS, it’s made me wonder why hasn’t anyone looked into how it can affect boys and men? Why isn’t there just as much information out there alerting boys and men about how their Mother’s PCOS can affect them? It is somewhat out there you just have to use the right search engine terms.

When my son was six years old he pointed out something to me as I was drying him off after a bath. He asked why he was growing little hairs on his private parts. Alarmed, I took a closer look and every “mom bell” inside me was going off. Something wasn’t right. That night after he went to bed I tore up the internet trying to find out what could cause a little boy to be growing hair in that region at such a young age.

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Precocious Puberty, the term I kept running into, mostly pertains to girls and very rarely boys…but what if his mother had a preexisting condition? I’m not one to run to the doctor for just anything, it has to be major enough where I won’t think twice about shelling out money we really don’t have. After his Pediatrician examined him and she voiced her concerns, she ordered some blood work to be done. I was on pins and needles till those results came back, and all the while I could only think “I did this to him.” I passed on my disorder in some fashion and it is beginning to slowly come out. Knowing that we needed to change his diet I stopped feeding him his favorite foods and went back to homemade alternatives. He wasn’t receptive to that at first but he now can’t get enough of the homemade versions. This has helped to eliminate as much soy as possible from his daily diet. Any endocrinologist will tell you that yes boys can be just as affected as girls, though in a different way. There is still cause for concern about insulin resistance, cholesterol issues, pre-disposition to heart troubles and strokes, and High BP.  They can also suffer from the same body shape(heavy in the middle). Which my son does, he’s always been a stockier child, somewhat reminiscent of his uncle, but as he’s gotten older I’ve noticed that he carries most of his weight in his midsection.  Again, alarms…blaring…flashing…danger Will Robinson, danger!

After the results came back normal showing there was not an increase of estrogen in his body I still told the doctor that I was not convinced that he was in the clear. She already knew of my PCOS and though she tried to console me, deep down this gnawing concern grew and now I wait for puberty to hit him.  Changing his diet by making most of his meals from scratch has helped to slow the abnormal hair growth considerably. If he wants chicken nuggets I have to make them at that time and try to keep some extra in the freezer. We don’t allow the typical childhood snack foods in our house because of all the chemicals, HFCS, and soy that’s in them. I know how those things have affected me and seeing as how I’ve passed on enough to him I don’t add insult to injury.

It’s a handy picture when teaching children about their endocrine system. It shows them what organs and glands are involved in a safe way without involving other questions about the sex organs (especially for smaller children).

Just last week my son proudly came into my bedroom after his shower and announced he’s growing armpit hairs. He said he was a man now–oy vey–upon closer examination and angling the light just right, I did see some very fine blonde hairs growing in his armpits. He’s nine years old, no doubt this is in thanks to the hormone laden meat we get from the store. I’m lucky to get him to eat what few things I can, he’s such a picky eater and unwilling to try new things. On top of the change in food, he’s also been stinkier, as in teenage stink, I’ve had him wearing deodorant now for about six months, and all the while this growing uneasiness continues. I tell him that it’s not normal for his age, and if it were normal then I wouldn’t be concerned.

What’s the point of this post? It’s mostly to my Cysters that I say this, and I don’t want it taken the wrong way because I’m not trying to be a Negative Nelly, it’s out of love and concern that I say this…don’t be so eager to have a child. Please think about what you could be passing on to your precious baby. About 40-50% of daughters (and sisters included) have the potential for developing PCOS, that doesn’t even include numbers for sons and brothers having potential endocrine issues as well. This is why it is so very important for all my Cysters to stick with a strict healthy lifestyle that once your child is of age you can begin to introduce those healthful fruits, vegetables, and various whole foods. Growing up eating that way is much easier than introducing it later in their life, which I have found out the hard way. Raise them to understand why they eat this way and be that positive reminder that it will help them to live longer, reduce illness in their life and lessen their chances for chronic or acute pains and inflammation.

See, I come from a family (through my Dad) that was riddled with reproductive issues and prior to my conception my own mother was having endocrine problems herself. My oldest sister had endometriosis after having one child, which she promptly had to have a complete hysterectomy in her 20’s and my brother has been the only one, that I know of, that hasn’t had any issues. So far, I am the only one in my family that has been diagnosed with PCOS. What does this mean for my son? How will it affect him in his teen years and adult life? Will he be able to have children? These are things that I don’t want any Cyster to have to question/endure, nor would I want any of you to ever blame yourself the way I have. I know it is possible for a PCOS woman to have children who do not have any endocrine issues at all, I’ve met them and have seen their beautiful family pictures, for them I am thanking the Lord for such mercies. For my childless Cysters, don’t be so hasty in wanting a child. Learn more about how this could affect your future daughter or son, what it could mean for your future grandchildren. I know what it is like to be without a child and what it is like to deal daily with how my PCOS is affecting him. As a parent we never want to see our children suffer, do what you can now to educate yourself so that you will know what needs to be done in case your darling child is afflicted with an endocrine disorder. 

I pray for all my Cysters to have health babies galore!

Here’s a bucket of baby dust to all my Cysters who are waiting for their turn at motherhood! Don’t ever stop believing!!

Be blessed!

 

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