Dealing with PCOS in Lagos

Hi, I’m Karina & I enjoy speaking openly about my uterus on Instagram!

PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a common hormonal imbalance disorder that affects 1 in 10 women; 50% of which go undiagnosed. Symptoms include irregular periods, ovarian cysts and hormonal imbalances which can cause infertility, fatigue, food intolerances, anxiety & depression, male pattern hair loss, facial hair, weight gain, prolonged periods, lack of periods... the list goes on. PCOS shows up differently in every woman. It’s a misunderstood disorder so getting medical attention can be a long & frustrating journey. It isn’t regularly discussed outside of the context of conceiving children. If you would like to read more about PCOS, 17 amazing women told their story here and Part 2 of that PCOS series highlighted the effects of the disorder on mental health.

If you recently found out you have PCOS or like me are in the middle of a flare up, these tips might encourage you.

1. Keep a no-judgement food diary to watch your body’s reactions & recognise food intolerances. If you’re extra like me, you might want to save up & get a food intolerance/allergy test done with 54 Gene.

2. Focus on unprocessed & anti-inflammatory foods. Incorporate foods that balance hormones (maca root powder changed a lot for me). There are fruit & veg vendors/health stores who are doing the Lord’s work by delivering during the lockdown.

3. Remind yourself that this is not a quick fix/to lose weight. Think long-haul. Get good quality sleep, drink 3L of water (or more) a day, spend time in nature & exercise in ways you enjoy. I’d recommend swimming/Pilates/yoga (plugging Proud Journey here).

4. Don’t neglect your mental health until something is uncontrollably wrong. Journal, exercise, eat for your brain health, practise self-awareness, consider therapy. I share lots of resources on therapy in Nigeria at Ere Collective.

5. Find a supportive & progressive gynaecologist who gets it. One who won’t brush all you’re experiencing under the ‘get on the pill/just lose weight/come back when you want to have children’ rug. There might be tears of frustration. It will take time but it’s worth it.

6. Don’t allow PCOS take over your life-it’s just a part of it. There’s an army of us thriving through each day. Your body can & will heal.

7. Our bodies can sense stress/worry & will hold onto it. Relax, pray, meditate. I 100% believe going on holiday & relaxing brought my period back after 9 months of it disappearing last year (wild, I know). Patiently explain symptoms to your support system. Learn to ask for their help.

It can be a bloody frustrating (pun intended kekekeke 🤭) journey but be patient with yourself & your body; change takes time.

Sending strength & love!