After years of painful periods, Kate was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that effects approximately 10% of women in the United States alone. Kate shares her journey to diagnosis, how she managers her symptoms and shares advice to those who were recently diagnosed.
How old were you when you were diagnosed with PCOS? What signs led you to talk with your doctor about what was going on and how did you ultimately come to a diagnosis?
I was diagnosed with PCOS at 17-years-old. At the time, I had never heard of this syndrome and for years I ignored it, thinking it was no big deal. I’ve dealt with a heavy flow and severe cramps ever since getting my period for the first time as a young girl. Given what I knew about menstrual cycles, I didn’t think anything of my symptoms. As we all know, periods can be a pain, and I thought all women were going through what I was going through. Little did I know, my symptoms were abnormal and a result of PCOS. In high school, I had cystic acne on my jawline that wasn’t clearing up with topicals or dermatologist treatments. I ended up doing bloodwork and an ultrasound, which showed the cysts on my ovaries.
How did you begin to cope with this diagnosis and create a plan to manage it?
I think communication is really important, be it with my family, friends or my doctor. I am very lucky to have a loving team around me when things get difficult. My gynecologist and endocrinologist have both been tremendously helpful when it comes to getting my hormones under control and creating a plan that’s sustainable.
Symptoms like depression, cystic acne, and abnormal menstruation are all associated with PCOS. What lifestyle changes have you made to help ease your symptoms? Do you have any tips for those who were recently diagnosed and are overwhelmed with the idea of managing their symptoms?
Nutrition has become number one for me. I used to think that if I workout then I wouldn’t need to eat well, but I’ve realized over time how negatively sugar and processed food affects me. Given my love for sugar, I’ve found that intermittent fasting has really helped me stick to a schedule and curb my cravings for sweets. I also like to remind myself when things get tough that this journey has made me a stronger, more spiritual human being. My tips for other women would be to continue to educate themselves about the syndrome and to be patient. Also, embrace discipline and recognize that sometimes sacrifice is the best option.
How do you continue to empower and educate yourself about your health so you can make the best decisions for yourself?
I use my podcast, "Connect with Kate", as a space to discuss my PCOS and to connect with other women to learn their stories. I recently had Monica Reagor on, from the PCOS Awareness Association (PCOSAA.org), to discuss her work for the organization and her personal history with the syndrome. I think it’s empowering to learn from others and create a conversation around the topic. On my own, I like to go on long walks and listen to podcasts to educate myself on women’s health.
As a person with PCOS and an advocate for the syndrome, what is the most important thing you want people to know about PCOS?
PCOS is totally manageable as long as you’re on top of your diet and exercise regimen. And of course, avoid sugar as much as possible!
Kate recently hosted TOP Co-Founder, Denielle Finkelstein, on her latest podcast episode of Connected with Kate. The two discuss female entrepreneurship, getting your first period and making eco-friendly choices when it comes to our period products!