Last week, my best friend Becca blogged about PCOS and its effect on her ability to have children. She wrote about a difficult appointment she’d just attended and texted me later with the details (which, for the sake of her privacy, I will not be sharing here). Hearing about her experience spurred me to action: I finally bit the bullet and scheduled a potentially life-changing appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist (or RE). To say I’m nervous would be a gross understatement; scared out of my ever-living mind would be closer to the truth.
See, I’ve been hearing “PCOS” in various contexts for several years now: Becca, as I mentioned, got her diagnosis six years ago, and she’s not the only one among my friends who has it. I’m not aware of any family members who have it, which I guess is a good thing. I’ve also heard the acronym thrown around in the news and on blogs, and it’s come out of one or two doctor’s mouths within earshot. I myself, however, have never been diagnosed. After reading this snippet of an article Becca sent to me, I think I know what I might be hearing when I see this RE in two weeks.
In an effort to be more inclusive — and to recognize that the diagnosis may be broader than these two criteria — the Rotterdam Criteria expanded the diagnosis of PCOS to women if they met two of the following three conditions: (1) oligoanovulation or anovulation, (2) the clinical or biochemical diagnosis of androgen excess, and (3) polycystic ovaries visible on ultrasound. Because the Rotterdam Criteria uses the presence of cystic ovaries as one of the criteria tht can be present to diagnose PCOS, it opens the diagnosis pool up to women with normal periods and fertility but who have signs of androgen excess and polycystic ovaries on ultrasound as well as to women who have irregular periods and polycystic ovaries but no signs of androgen excess. This expanded criterion is believed to increase the number of women who could be diagnosed with PCOS by about 20 percent.
So what does this have to do with me? Well, as the above text says, the Rotterdam Criteria expanded the diagnosis to women who met two of the three conditions; let’s play a game of two strikes, then, shall we?
(1) Anovulation is defined as the cessation of menstrual periods. That’s me. Strike one!
(2) When I went for bloodwork last August, I was told that I had a “mild excess” of testosterone, which is otherwise known as an androgen. Strike two!
Sh*t just got real.
(3) I’ve already met the critera for a PCOS diagnosis so this doesn’t even matter, but I should note that I’ve had several ultrasounds over the last year or so, and my ovaries have appeared cyst-free. Ball one.
Two strikes and I’m out, right?! It’s not looking good but I hate jumping the gun when I can avoid it, so I’m not going to announce that I have PCOS because I just don’t know. I’m not a doctor; I don’t read ultrasounds or bloodwork, and I certainly don’t have any medical training. I also don’t make a habit of self-diagnosis with Dr. WebMD…but PCOS at this point is certainly a viable possibility. I see the doctor on March 19, and I’m sure I’ll be sharing the results of the consultation two Thursdays from now on that week’s Talking Fitness Thursday.
Until then, the anxiety (hard as I’ve tried to fight it off) has settled into my bones and the waiting game is on. In the meantime, it’s time to start educating myself on the lifestyle changes I’ll need to make if the diagnosis comes. Where to begin…
Can we fast-forward to the 19th, please?