PCOS and Insulin Resistance


I also suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Insulin Resistance

Symptoms of PCOS include but are not limited to: acne, infrequent and/or irregular periods, difficulty/inability to lose weight, body hair in places a lady doesn’t want body hair, vaginal pain, regular Thrush (yeast) Infections, lack of sleep and/or vivid dreams that you very clearly remember. 


I ask you, would you put all that together and say “There’s something wrong with my ovaries!”, I certainly didn’t.  A simple scan showed the benign cysts on my ovaries back in 2005.  Of course, whenever anyone says “cyst” to me I immediately thought “Cancer” but PCOS is not remotely related to cancer. 


PCOS is, however, somehow related to Insulin Resistance – I have been told there is a correlation between them.  For all intents and purposes, I consider Insulin Resistance to be pre-diabetes.  I take Metformin and control my symptoms with a similar diet to someone with diabetes so I feel lucky that I’ve been caught before things get worse.  The doctors haven’t worked out yet how or why there should be a correlation between PCOS and Insulin Resistance but I’m only in a position to accept what I’ve been given and move on. 


As well as endometriosis, these two disorders have had a tremendous effect on my day to day life.  My new diet springs to mind.  At the time I was diagnosed, I had a vegetarian husband and I was too busy to make two meals of an evening.  So I became a pretty decent veggie cook.  I had started to put on a little weight but nothing too drastic.  I think I’d gone up a dress size or two but put that down to my age and possible slowing metabolic rate.  I took regular exercise. 


But then I had my first surgery in 2005.  I found myself in the bed after the surgery and the doctor said to me shaking his finger, “You need to eat some meat!”  The next thing I knew I was with a dietician and I am now eating meat at every meal.  I’m watching the carbohydrate intake and I’m feeling good – well, I’m feeling OK.  I’m only now beginning to think that I’ll never feel as good as I did in my 20s ever again. 


I think my problem with PCOS overall is because the symptoms are so varied I never feel terribly on top of them all.  I’m obviously not happy.  I find the worst symptoms to live with are: lack of sleep, wild and vivid dreams, the vaginal burning and the regular occurrence of Thrush.


I tend to sleep best only once every three nights.  On that third night my dreams are so long and vivid I feel as though I’ve not slept at all.  Now, I’ve always had odd dreams and remember some of them (possibly more than most people?), even when I was a kid!

These days I entertain friends with tales of yellow and green fish who are 10 feet tall and wind surfing, I’m in the water too but I’m walking to a nearby city that I can see with my new husband (Where am I, Venice?).  I’ve dreamt of being in the wild west travelling in a Cadillac to a ranch with all my work colleagues where we take a wrong turning.  We go into a roped-off area and we’re all watching a 100 foot tall bull called Titanic!  


I’ve also dreamt of being on a road trip with a bus load of people and I’m watching my sister back in the 1970s (She was born in 1983 – so it’s well before her time.) and we stop off at this country kitchen restaurant where everyone is expected to eat mashed potatoes, fried chicken and green beans together at long tables – it has thick dark wood furniture (for those of us wanting food) the windows were decorated in greens and pink cabbage roses.  I’m at the till surrounded by big bags of boiled sweets and penny gum balls and strange cross-stitched pillows but I’m not allowed any of the sweets because I’m Insulin Resistant, so I’m looking at the pillows and my sister is only 3 so she’s trying to wander off again and I’m following her. 


I’ve also dreamt of being perched on John Travolta’s shoulders in order to fix the top right hand corner of a movie screen.  Do all these dreams mean that I’m crazy?  Or is this just the sort of thing that normal people forget and it’s not important for me to remember?  It has to be said that with all this movement at night, it’s no wonder I feel tired during the day – my brain hasn’t rested!  It regularly goes to REM sleep and no deeper.  Or maybe my brain does go deeper but not for long enough.  Either way the result is that I’m regularly exhausted.


Drifting off to sleep isn’t the easiest thing either.  I’ve regularly been awake until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. and up at 7:00 a.m.  I’m barely functioning at the office by the end of the week.  I have been known to take afternoon naps at the weekend.  I’m joking with my friends that I’m looking forward to my next surgery so that I can get some sleep!