More Talk about PCOS

Published October 29, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

A question came up on a forum today about PCOS and whether sufferers are a genetic “throw back” for want of a better term to earlier times of famine and higher birth rates.  I had heard this theory before, or something very much like it, when I went to the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association of Australia (POSAA) conference a few years back, when Dr Warren Kidson, a leading endocrinologist and researcher into PCOS and insulin resistance in Australia, was talking about a similar concept.

I Googled Dr Kidson to see if I could find any relevant articles to share with the ladies, and I found a few interesting pieces.

The first was this transcript from the George Negus Tonight programme on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – our public media network in Australia for those who are overseas).  It’s a fascinating interview with a couple of PCOS sufferers (and brave ladies too) that is well worth reading.  The quote that really popped out at me was from Dr Kidson

For years, when a woman would come to us and say that she dieted and exercised and couldn’t lose weight, we used to think that she was cheating – she was a liar, she didn’t diet, she didn’t exercise. But we’ve now come to realise that we were wrong – that these people try very, very hard, and despite diet and exercise, they just cannot lose weight.

I remember bursting into tears at the POSAA conference when Dr Kidson said pretty much the same thing, though I remember him using the words “Ladies, you are not disgusting pigs.” which really hit home with me.

Dr Kidson’s quote above shows the attitude of many doctors still out there, all around the world.  While many are starting to change their attitude, there are still a lot of them that still hold the attitude that women who cannot lose weight with a healthy lifestyle are cheating or liars.  I’m very thankful that Dr Kidson is working very hard to change this attitude.

I’ve mentioned before that for many years (20 in fact) I was not diagnosed with PCOS, just told that I was too fat and to come back when I’d lost weight and wanted to have babies.  In that time I was in absolute agony, dealing with a whole host of other symptoms (none of which were pleasant), violently struggling with poor nutrition due to constantly starving myself and battling crippling depression which has now been linked to PCOS.

The other link that I stumbled across was this one from the POSAA website, titled “What Every Woman and her Doctor Should Know About PCOS“.  It links to a PDF file of a paper in common language that Dr Kidson and Dr James Mackenzie Talbot wrote a few years back for women to take to their doctors.  Copies were handed out at the POSAA conference, as the good doctors hadn’t yet been able to have the medical paper version published in the Australian Medical journal yet.

I photocopied it and took it to my doc, who is a lovely lady and she promised to read it.  When I returned on my next visit, she mentioned that she had read it, and that “Perhaps we need to try a different tactic.”  I think this might have been one of the catalysts to a turning point in how she treats PCOS.

About six months later I went in to see her and she greeted me with “Hey!  Your doctor fellows have had their paper published!”  I was so glad to hear that it had gone out in medical journals for other doctors to read, in the hope that they might change their attitude in treating women with PCOS.

If  you have PCOS, or you suspect that you  might, please download the PDF, print it out and take it to your doctor.   It is useful for non-Aussies too. Highlight the bits that you match up with symptom wise.  If your doctor will not listen to your suspicions on your health, find another doctor.

After all, you, or the medical insurance you pay for, is paying for them.

6 comments on “More Talk about PCOS

  • Great post once again.

    One thing I have to say though, I was quite surprised to read what had been said by Dr Kidson, as I had the exact opposite experience with him.

    I was referred to Dr Kidson by another specialist (one of many I was seeing!) as he was supposed to be the best in Australia. I saw Dr Kidson a number of times between 2004 and 2006. He straight away put me on Metformin. It made me SO ill. I crushed it up into yoghurt, took it with some sort of food every time but it would still make me nauseous and sometimes even throw up. Even now it has stayed with me psychologically and I still cannot swallow even a simple pill without feeling sick.

    Anyway, I went back to him and told him this and he outright blamed me for not taking it correctly, insinuating I had not been taking it with food and at the correct times. He also accused me of not exercising (I had been both exercising as we had discussed and also been visiting a nutritionist). I was made to feel guilty and helpless for no reason. His answer to me feeling sick was to increase my dosage. Needless to say it made me feel sicker.

    After going back to him again and having him, again, accuse me of not taking it with food etc he simply told me to keep taking it and it will settle down.

    Well, after months of throwing back up the tablets (which just negated taking them) I stopped taking them. I did not go back and see him as I was too scared/embarassed to tell him I wasn’t happy to take them anymore as the whole time I was seeing him, he sprouted on that the only cure for PCOS was Metformin. And if that didn’t work for you then you were just doing it wrong.

    So although Dr Kidson’s quote shows a modern understanding of PCOS, my practical experience with him was much, much different. Especially being only 21 when I first saw him, I was made to feel my only option was the Metformin and to lose weight, and when they didn’t work that it was my fault and I was left without any other options. I hope the program was after I had seen him, in the hope his understanding of PCOS has indeed changed and is not just a show for the public as I hate to think of other women having the same problems as I did with him.

    • Ahh, I wonder what year it was I saw him. 2006? 2007? I have such a bad memory.

      I have only heard positive information about him myself – the women I have talked to that have been to him all love him to bits, but this has only been in the last two or three years.

      • I have to admit though – Metformin doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t make me as sick as it does you, however it certainly doesn’t do anything for me. It used to be lauded as a miracle drug for women with PCOS, but it did diddly squat for me!

      • Yeah, I found it did nothing but make me sick. I am now just on the pill and skip my periods, as my main problem is the pain I get, and when on the BCP I don’t get pains nearly as much. Of course it doesn’t help the insulin resistance at all…..

      • Also, after hearing talk about Metformin after I had stopped taking it, I got the impression it is more for women who are wanting to have children?

  • I can’t take the pill. It simply masks the problem in me which then makes it come back ten times worse when I stop. Plus it has too many shitty side effects, even the so called “gentle” pill breeds.

    Metformin is supposed to help with a lot of things. Weight loss, ovulation, skin, hirsuitism, period pain etc. For those women trying to fall pregnant, it can create a regular menstrual cycle and ovulation.

    I do know a lot of women who have success on it. It seems like any drug, for those it works for, it works very well, for the rest… it either makes us sick or does diddly squat!

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