medical update

I went to the gynecologist yesterday for an annual exam. I’m 36 years old. I know my period has been fucked up for over a year now, coming infrequently. I assumed it was because of the weight loss and stress of moving. The nurse asked me what I used for birth control, and I answered honestly. “Marriage.” I thought it sounded better than, “abstinence.”

Yesterday they took blood and also did an ultrasound of my ovaries. The doctor believed I had poly-cystic ovaries (my whole life, I’ve never heard this) which results in fewer periods, but a technician looked at my ovaries with a giant wand up the crotch and saw two cysts on one ovary and one cyst on the other, all smaller than 1-inch. With poly-cystic, he said, people have like six to eight cysts. He said he thought I was ovulating right now, consistent with my silky thin discharge (normal), and TMI, I know. He said I should take Provera for 10 days to bring on a period, and then he wants to start me on birth control, to regulate my period, so it comes more often than THREE times a year (which is how often I had it last year).

This morning, 8:27am, I get a message from him.

“Hi, Stephanie, this is Dr. Silfen. I got the results of your blood work. You’re not pregnant, as we expected. Your thyroid is normal, your prolactin level is normal. You’re estrogen level is high. And your FSH is in the menopausal range, which does not make sense. Your LH is very high, consistent to what I spoke about yesterday, PCO, poly-cystic ovaries, so what I’m going to recommend is that you take the Provera for ten days. I think you’re going to get a period, but if you don’t get a period, give me a call and we’ll decide what to do. But first let’s just take the medication and go we’ll go from there. Bye.”

So, now, I’m my father’s daughter. A wreck. I walk around the grocery store looking at people. Fat, thin, old. People buying ingredients, fondling fruit, living their lives. I feel removed from it, from the everyday, seeing daily events as motions. Medical news can shift things in your life, especially your perspective. Literally.

Lord love a duck! Here’s hoping that I soon, very soon, see spot run. Period.



  1. Hang in there, Steph. I was diagnosed with PCOS 5 years ago. While it freaked me out, it hasn’t affected my quality of life at all. In addition to putting me on birth control, my doctor put me on glucophage (a diabetic medication) to control the development of more cysts. PCOS makes it harder to lose weight, but other than that, you should notice very few effects.

  2. Sorry to hear that. I am surprised to hear PCOS, since you don’t fit the profile (obesity, poor diet) and it is odd that you would develop it at age 35-36? I thought it usually comes about in the teens and early 20s. PCOS runs in my family, and I tested borderline PCOS many years ago, but no longer have the issue, either from outgrowing it or improving it through diet and exercise. Good luck, hope you can get it all balanced out.

  3. Hey there,
    Hang in there! I know you are stressed out. I have PCOS and the only down side was that it took me FOREVER to have kiddos and I needed to do IVF. Otherwise, no other issues on my end. Keep us posted. xoxo

  4. I wouldn’t stress too much yet. To get an accurate assessment of whether you are menopausal or not the FSH and estradiol levels must be drawn between day 2-5 of your period (day 3 being the best.) If you really are about to ovulate then your FSH and estradiol are supposed to be high right now. If you think you want more children then get yourself to a reproductive endocrinologist ASAP for a more thorough assessment.

  5. I have had menstrual problems all of my life. Over the past year, I drastically changed my diet (macrobiotic) and began maya abdominal massage. My cycle is regular, I have hardly any advese symptons and don’t have to take any prescription medicines. I highly recommend this course of action, especially the massage – it gets everything going again.

  6. Lord ain’t that the truth! Marriage DOES equal abstinence. At lease it does in my house. Good luck seeing spot run.

  7. I had a wand up my crotch yesterday as well looking for the same thing. But I’m 51 and hope it’s menopause. Sometimes I think the more that they can see is not necessary a benifit.

  8. When I didn’t get my period for half a year when I was 17 the doctor then discoverd my tiny uterus and of course figured out that I had an eating disorder. No period, no kids as an adult – everybody knows that.

    I received special pills to give my period a kick start again and I am kind of celebrating every month ever since because I have come to my senses, even though it took me 6 years and loads of literature in order to cure myself (parents just don’t understand and can’t help sometimes). I still have body issues today but – honestly – the best of us do.

    I know this comment perhaps does not help you with your situation but I just wanted to say hi and wish you all the best, dear Steph. Be strong!

    – JULES from Germany

  9. None of this is life threatening. And unless you want to have more children (though I doubt it since you think 35+ for kids is just asking for Down Syndrome-your words, not mine) then this can all be managed relatively easily.

    Yes, it’s important that your levels are balanced, but many, many (many) women have benign cysts. As long as they don’t get beyond a certain point size wise, you should be fine. You should probably regulate your period, but taking birth control is the pits for you, I’m sure.

    What’s the freakout here? I know you’re a drama queen but I see nothing here that’s close to what Phil or Lucas have dealt with. Is it that you might be pre-menopausal at 36?? It makes you no less a woman, if that’s the case. Why not just get a hysterectomy and not have to worry about birth control, periods, cysts, medication to start/stop periods ever again? Just a thought. My Aunt recently had one (in her early 40’s) because of her cysts. She’s always had them and they were painful, though not medically dangerous for her (meaning she didn’t have to have the surgery/they weren’t shortening her life span or anything, but why not?)

  10. I hope it it not more serious than PCOS. But..i really, really wish you went to the doc before your annual if you only had three (three?!!!) Periods last year. Nothing trumps managing your health, especially with Phil having a pacemaker. This is scary stuff. Yes some of this was tmi (i’d have left out the discharge, ay) but let this be a good example of how women need to notice and listen (meaning: take action as soon as possible) when something is clearly out of whack. Good luck and please don’t ignore your body’s signals anymore. And by ignoring i also mean rationalizing/making assumptions about why something is not working (i.e.missed periods). Hope to hear good news

  11. I have PCOS too.. a lot of women do and don’t know it. there are a lot of things you can do to help control the symptoms… going as natural as you can helps… ies non-aluminum deodorant, natural foods… we tend to need more protien that most people. the Pleo diet works for a lot of people (too many restrictions for a foodie i think)

  12. Oh geez, please see my post of not 2 months ago of the cystic breast. It’s odd how we go from thinking our biggest problem is our toe-nail color to a whole bevy of unthinkable options.

    You’re fine. You’ll be fine. I know it doesn’t help. But you’re not alone, no matter what happens. Breathe in, breathe out…meditate. Listen to Deva Pramal (seriously)…chant. We’ve got your back. And always – courage and strength from here.

  13. Sorry you had to get this news. PCOS is very very common, but that doesn’t make it any better. I’ve had it for years.

  14. HI,

    I’ve had PCOS since I was 14, and while things can get inconvenient, and you need to keep a sharper eye out on symptoms, it hasn’t really taken anything to stay on top of it.

    Don’t worry, this is a controllable situation.


  15. It sounds like your hormones are definitely up the wop at the moment. However, FSH levels are not reliable as they can vary. A better indicator of fertility these days is the AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone)test.Look that up. Maybe you could get that done. But I would be worried about high estrogen levels – due to the association with breast cancer and would try to lower it if I could. Maybe you could look into ways of balancing hormones naturally etc – i.e evening primrose, agnus castus etc. Try not to have any alcohol for a while or too much caffeine.

  16. Stephanie: It was a first visit, doc doesn’t know you and you don’t know him. There will be more testing and maybe a NY second opinion (S FL has mediocre medicine at best.)

    I think you’ve had your first visit from the mortality fairy. Every body with kids does. Your reactions aren’t “drama” or too much. If you had heard this 18 months ago in Austin before your life went haywire, your reaction might have been very different. Moving is No. 1 on the stress list and you don’t have your posse around you ever. You’re asymptomatic except for the absence of a period. You’ll figure out the food, later.

    You feel what you feel. Not pleasant, but real. Try to forget the food part, try to do things that make you feel better and ride it out.

  17. I’d be concentrating more on the marriage/abstinance part. Ummm…are you not alarmed by that? Is your husband cracking jokes about not having sex, too?

    I’m 43 & have been married 20 years, so I do have some experience, which boils down to, “regular sexual contact between spouses = much happier day-to-day coexistence.”

  18. PCOS sometimes can be serious. I have never been over 110 pounds, except when pg or on fertility meds, and have had pcos since I was 15. By the time I was 32 I had a choice: go on 12 different meds to fix all the issues caused by PCOS (Horrible chloresterol, hormones gone crazy, borderline diabetic etc) or have a hysterectomy. There is only one definite thing about PCOS, it is completely unpredictible and different in every one. Just make sure you keep control of it, before it controls you.

  19. Now entering a similar situation. Felt kind of lost. Remembered to look back at your posts, but I only remember how the beginning of this tale went for you (got distracted with my own kids &c), so I guess you’ve got my attention again :)

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