How Ann Landers Changed My Life: My journey with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

One day, twenty years ago,  I was reading Ann Landers’ advice column in the Houston Chronicle , and I spotted a word that I recognized.  I had no way of knowing that someday I would look back on that as a pivotal moment in my life.

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Wait? Who is Ann Landers , you ask? I realized after I spoke to my 23 year old son that not everyone knows. Ann Landers and her twin sister Dear Abby, not their actual names, were from the pre-internet , instant information, hand-delivered newspaper days. They wrote extremely popular advice columns in which they would answer questions sent in by readers on topics such as relationships, dealing with difficult people, manners, and topics that people today can just Google. Their real names were quite interesting to me, Esther Pauline and  Pauline Esther Friedman. Who does that? You can read more about them and their competing columns on Wikipedia.

Usually in her column you would find a question from a reader , but this time the reader was the one sharing information about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.  I can’t believe it, but I think I just found it here,  https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1999-05-29-9905290143-story.html.  Ann Landers thought this information could help other women and she was correct! At the time , I knew that I had PCOS, from some tests I had done, but the only reason I knew was because I saw it written on the paper they gave me at the end of the appointment. The doctor did not even mention it to me or suggest that it was causing the problems I was having! When I read the column, I realized that I wasn’t getting the help I needed. I went to the website and my eyes were opened! http://www.pcosupport.org is now called https://www.pcosaa.org

Poly-cys-tic  Ovar-i-an  Syn-drome

A variable disorder that is marked especially by amenorrhea, hirsutism, obesity, infertility, and ovarian enlargement and is usually initiated by an elevated level of luteinizing hormone, androgen, or estrogen which results in an abnormal cycle of gonadotropin release by the pituitary gland —abbreviation PCOS — called also polycystic ovary disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, polycystic ovary disease, Stein-Leventhal syndrome. ~ http://www.pcosaa.org

 

I was suffering greatly and no doctor had helped me. Even when endocrine tests and ultrasounds showed what was wrong, I was not given any treatment and the information was just brushed aside. I had no idea that PCOS was the cause of all my problems! I finally had a diagnosis, and it was from Ann Landers.  This was the turning point for me in taking charge of my own health. By this time I had almost given up on getting any help, after so many unproductive, money-wasting doctor appointments.   I became more pro-active with my doctor, brought up the endocrinologist’s test results to my Ob-Gyn and asked for Metformin, one of the treatments for this condition. This particular doctor was young and actually knew about treating PCOS with this drug, but for some reason hadn’t offered it to me. I only took Metformin for a short time because it was expensive back then.  I also discovered that eating a low-carb diet could also effectively reduce the insulin resistance that is the main symptom of PCOS , and then later I learned about using natural progesterone cream to balance my hormones. Over the years, from searching and reading online forums, I began to see that my story was not unique. There were and are many women who do not get the help they deserve and desperately need.

 My Health History

I had had problems with my period since I started at age 12. I know now that it was caused by abnormal hormone levels. The cure back then  (and now) for heavy or irregular periods was to put women of any age on the birth control pill, and  I actually tried that for awhile. But synthetic progesterone has terrible side effects, weight gain, anxiety, irritability, etc, and I figured that was not much improvement, so I stopped taking them. As time went on my life was frequently impacted by my symptoms. I missed work and school; I often felt exhausted; I felt misunderstood, and I thought there was no hope for my issues.  I made it through my school years not knowing why  I could not stay awake in class (insulin) or why my periods were so heavy that I was constantly in fear of being embarrassed (not ovulating).  Later , after I somehow ( I probably changed my diet and didn’t realize it)  managed to get pregnant once, I had secondary infertility , meaning I had trouble getting pregnant again. It was only with fertility drugs and herbs and a low carb diet, that I got pregnant again over 3 years later. I was a basket case during the years of trying to get pregnant. I had also experienced post-partum depression after my first baby, which I now know is mostly due to low hormones and thyroid levels.  By the time I saw this column, I had three children. I was using herbs and  had learned the truth about diet and nutrition thanks to Dr. Atkins by that time to treat my infertility, but was still not fully aware of what was going on. I think I can confidently say that for me, at least, these treatments cured my infertility, since I went on to have a total of six children!

Natural Progesterone Cream

As wonderful as regaining my fertility and having children was, the biggest life-changing effect was how much better I felt when I learned about using natural progesterone cream. Many women do not realize that low progesterone ( and estrogen dominance)  is the most common cause of PMS symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, weight gain, foggy brain, and depression, among others.  If I ran out or forgot to use my cream , I could tell ! I came to even fear that I might not be able to get my cream when it seemed like natural supplements were under attack by the medical establishment. I would buy several tubes at a time just in case. I found out that women in Canada could not get the cream without a prescription and that made me so mad! I offered to buy it for my Canadian friends. This product should be widely available! I have told so many women about it over the years. Not to sell it, but to help people. PMS and PCOS are very disruptive to women’s lives. Infertility and depression and weight gain and heart disease are real problems!
My last two pregnancies were back to back and I gained a lot of weight , but when I returned to eating  low carb (and eventually gluten free) and exercising and using progesterone cream, I lost weight and regained my health.

Two Books that Helped Me in my Journey to Health

During those years of searching for information, I also discovered a very important book called What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause by the late Dr. John Lee. This book taught me so much about my body and affirmed what I knew , that doctors were not really trained or interested in helping with hormone issues. This was also the most comprehensive  source of information on natural progesterone cream at the time. There was one other book that I read over and over, Taking Charge of Your Fertility. This empowering book showed me that women can and should understand their own bodies to not only stay healthy, but to protect themselves from the medical system that was not very supportive. Even now, a doctor is more likely to prescribe a woman anti-depressants than to help her with real medical issues like hormone and thyroid imbalance!

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Thankfully, PCOS is no longer a mystery and  progesterone cream is more commonly heard of  today and is even available from multiple companies. The brand I used the longest is Emerita Pro-Gest. I always bought mine off the Vitamin Shoppe website or in their stores, but the online price was better. It is also available on Amazon. I’ll post a link to it, but if you are feeling bad right now, I’d say don’t wait for the mailman, get some at your nearest vitamin store.

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Now that I am possibly in actual menopause, it hasn’t been a year so I can’t really say if I am, I am not using the cream regularly. But I will put a dab on for a day or two, during the week that would correspond with PMS,  when I start to feel anxiety or depression and it perks me up. I also have the cream from the same company that is a natural estrogen cream, called Emerita Phytoestrogen. I’ve only used it for a short time, off and on, but I think it may be helpful. The jury is still out. I am also trying some Black Cohosh capsules to boost my estrogen levels.

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I believe in using natural remedies when they work and are not dangerous. Natural progesterone cream is safe and effective.  Remember, the synthetic progesterone is not the same and can have awful side effects and so can Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT, so why not try the natural things first? Just be sure to give it at least a couple of months to work. A healthy diet is essential for hormone balance as well as regular exercise and good sleep, but that’s another topic.

So, thank you  to the lady who wrote to Ann Landers, and thank you Ann, your column was always interesting, sometimes funny, and in my case, it was the key that unlocked the door to my health mysteries. There is no cure for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, but the symptoms can be managed. If you are not getting the help you need from your doctor, I urge you to do your own research, then tell your doctor what you found and what you want them to do. Or treat yourself. There is so much information available online now about diet and other treatments. And last, but most important, I want to say that I know that God was at work in my life during this time and since then.  He is the one who put that column in front of me and took me on this journey. He has been helping me when the medical system has been lacking.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This is my personal experience with PCOS and infertility. Your results may  be different. I wish you the best in your quest ! Feel free to ask me questions and I’ll help if I can.

8 comments

  1. I always like learning more about natural treatments and how they work for other people. So glad to hear you were able to help yourself and your health. Thank you for sharing! God Bless!

  2. “Adrenaline Dominance” by Michael Platt was recommended to me, and it’s a fascinating book! It explained a lot about my apparent ADHD, insomnia, and other “quirks.” I use the progesterone cream, and my sleep has been so much better than it was for decades. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Oh wow, I have never heard of that! But I have heard of adrenal fatigue and I wonder if they are related. I get severe fatigue after my ultramarathons. I will have to look for the book. Thanks!

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