Hormonal issues are not easy to deal with. Recently, I shared my own experiences, and in next weeks Happy Health Chat podcast, Kezia and I will also be talking all things hormonal balance. Today I wanted to share a story from one of my health and business mentoring clients. The lovely Nicola is a qualified Acupuncturist and Naturopath. She runs her business Hedgehog Healing to support and empower women on their journey to motherhood and beyond. Here is her story…
Being told at 16 that you can never have children is a difficult thing to hear.
I was 13 when I had my first period but then nothing. At first I thought it was great! Who really wants periods when you are going through puberty? It wasn’t until I was 15 that mum thought things might not be right. That was the start of several trips to the doctors, where i was told not to worry, things would happen, which they didn’t. It wasn’t until we insisted on getting a different opinion that PCOS was mentioned.
PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome isn’t well understood. It is normally diagnosed with a lack of periods, excess weight and excess body hair but you don’t have to have any of these symptoms to have PCOS. It basically means that my hormones are messed up. I have heaps of testosterone (the “male” hormone) which causes excess hair growth and all my other hormones are out of whack.
The solution? Go on the pill and lose weight. And so began 15 years of yo-yo dieting, trying to find the easiest way to lose weight before piling it all back on and starting again.
In a way I feel so grateful for the problems I faced. I was put on the pill and had “periods” but it was those issues which led me to a career in healthcare and ultimately to become an acupuncturist and naturopath specialising in fertility. During my training to become an acupuncturist, I learnt so much about health. The thing that really turned it on its head was the Chinese model, where they pay their doctors to keep them well rather than when they are sick. How crazy is our health system really?
I still struggle with my weight and I know that I still suffer from PCOS due to my hairy nature so I thought that when I wanted to have children it would be a huge struggle. I came off the pill after finding out how damaging it can be to your system and my periods didn’t return.
When my husband and I decided we were ready to have babies, I was ready for a fight. I was expecting it to be difficult, especially as I hadn’t resolved my issues. But it wasn’t, we conceived before we even really started trying and baby number two came even easier. I know this doesn’t happen for every women who has PCOS and I feel so blessed to have gone through that struggle my whole adult life and be lucky enough for that first diagnosis to be false. I think things might have been very different if I hadn’t stumbled across a more holistic way of living.
Being a mum now, I want to help as many people as I can, be the mothers that they want to be. I want to live in a world where women don’t face a struggle to get pregnant, which is why I’ve created an online program to help women get themselves ready for starting a family. I believe it was a combination of many small holistic changes I made, that meant I found it so easy to get pregnant.
I’m still working through my own stuff and on my own journey to reach my healthy me. Having Laura as a health coach is making a huge difference and she has really inspired me to keep making changes and most importantly follow my dreams. Getting the support you need, whether to have babies or to find peace with yourself is the most important and valuable thing you can do for yourself. Its the best decision I’ve ever made.
If you suffer from PCOS, here are some tips which have helped me:
- Embrace the fat! After being on so many low fat diets, I’m convinced it’s made my hormonal issues worse. Fats are vital for hormone production so stick to the full fat goodness and enjoy natural fats such as full fat dairy, avocados and nuts and seeds.
- Watch your water. When I started drinking more water I thought I was being very virtuous but what I didn’t realise was that tap water contains a lot of oestrogen (think of all those women on the pill weeing it back out again!). Hormones are too small to be filtered out in the normal water cycle so now I stick with bottled water.
- Avoid soya products. Soya products like soya milk contain something called phyto-oestrogens which mimic oestrogen in the body. If you eat a lot of these products they can play havoc with your hormones so they are best to avoid. Check the ingredients in your food, they sneak it in a lot of places.
- Mint tea. If you suffer from excess hair try drinking two cups of spearmint tea a day. Some research shows it has a great effect in reducing testosterone and over time will decrease excess hair.
- Chromium. PCOS is linked with irregular blood glucose levels. Starting with 200mcg of Chromium daily can help to regulate blood glucose levels, which will ease carb cravings and help the body rebalance the hormones.
Dealing with PCOS can be stressful, which doesn’t help things get any better! If stress effects you, I’m offering a free mini stress course with three easy to use techniques to help you manage it. Just sign up here:
Do you suffer from PCOS? Have you struggled with fertility? Does stress impact on your wellbeing?
Ah this totally brightened my day. I too have PCOS and know what a pain it is. I guess I’m fortunate I don’t suffer with excess weight, and in regard to hair, I know I’m lucky I ‘only’ have a bit of a snail trail and hair around the nipples (I’m painting myself to be so attractive, ha). It’s AMAZING to hear how easy it was for you to start a family, Nicola. It’s my biggest fear it’ll be a huge struggle for me (I’m only 21, so baby dreams are well in the future, not now!). This has certainly given me hope though!
I had NO IDEA about the water issue, I really need to get back into the habit of investing in Britta water filters! Also, I didn’t now about chromium, I’ll definitely look into that. Sugar is a huuuuge contributor to aggravating my hormones, and it doesn’t help I have a sweet tooth, so hopefully chromium will help somewhat.
Really enjoyed this : )
She’s So Lucy
I know! It’s pretty scary about the water. Chromium is great for sugar cravings, hope it helps :-)
Thanks Lucy, so glad it was helpful for you!
I’ve recently been diagnosed with PCOS, explains a lot really but at the same time I am left clueless as to what to do next. I have also struggled with weight issues throughout my life. I Would be interested to learn more about how my diet could improve matters
Really sorry to hear that Emma, I’ll have to email you petal!
There is so much you can do with diet!
Unfortunately most of it involves cutting out fun stuff like dairy, refined carbs, caffeine and alcohol.
A great trick I learnt from Laura was the crowding out method, including so much good stuff that there is little room left for the other stuff.