The menstrual cycle, female hormones and (my lack of) periods have taken up a lot of airtime in my conversations over the past few months. For context, I’m 26, I have PCOS and am subsequently experiencing amenorrhea (the medical term for the absence of menstrual periods). I’ve been taking a deep dive into the intricacies of my hormones to gain clarity and insight into my body. The prequel “Coming Off The Pill” to this article, sheds light on part 1 of my journey of stepping away from contraception, only to discover the pill was, in fact, concealing polycystic ovarian syndrome frequently abbreviated to PCOS.

My knowledge of female health was vague when I first commenced this journey to get to know my body better, but I’ve thankfully come a long way with the help of Hertility. I turned to Hertility when I was in no man’s land, or let’s say ‘no women’s land’! I’d been diagnosed with PCOS, but had not the faintest clue what to do about it. It’s a slippery slope when you start using Google as your doctor but with nowhere else to turn, I found myself turning to the World Wide Web and the advice/tips were conflicting, to say the least. When I came across Hertility, it felt like I’d been thrown a lifejacket. What I needed was tailored advice, and, as I’ve come to learn, PCOS is a blanket term but that doesn’t mean to say all PCOS-suffers will have the same symptoms. 

My first port of call was to air my concerns to the Hertility experts, well versed in PCOS. The initial consultation was a chance for me to outline everything I had going on, from my lifestyle, health history, menstrual cycle and my future plans to conceive. From this chat, it was decided that a full blood panelling and pelvic ultrasound screening would be the best option to give better insight. Hertility sends through an at-home blood test kit that can be done from the comfort of your living room and arranges a scan at the nearest ultrasound clinic with availability for appointments in as little as a few days away.

The results were in! I was notified within a couple of days that my blood tests were ready to view on the Health Hub section in Hertility. This easy-to-navigate display feature elevates Hertility’s testing protocol above all others in my opinion. If you’ve ever received blood test results, you’ll be aware it’s like trying to read a foreign language. The detailed hormone analysis unravels each reading with simple colour coding and an individualised explanation on what each result means for me. The analysis demystified ovarian reserve and fertility levels, ovulation and period, androgen hormone health and thyroid health. The results revealed I have significantly high oestradiol levels. As one of the main hormones that regulates your menstrual cycle, excess oestradiol may disrupt your cycle, which gave me somewhat of an answer as to why I haven’t had a period in two years!

Once my ultrasound scans had been sent back to the experts at Hertility my results could be cross-referenced to get a clearer picture of my ‘version’ of PCOS, as no two people experience PCOS in the same way. One of my main concerns was the thickness of my uterus lining due to not having a period for a considerable amount of time, causing a risk of endometrial hyperplasia. However, amidst this uncertainty, there was a glimmer of relief as the ultrasound revealed a thin lining of the uterus.  A thick uterus lining is more at risk of turning cancerous, but thanks to Hertility, I was now armed with the information that mine didn’t pose this extreme risk due to being thin, allowing me too weigh up my options without being constrained by a tight deadline which gave me huge solace and space to breathe!

The in-depth video consultation I had with Gynaecologist, Mr. Srdjan Saso, helped unpick all the nitty gritty details and was a chance for me to air my questions about what the results meant. We discussed my best options going forward and the proactive lifestyle choices I can make to better support my body.

I went one step further, speaking to Hertility’s expert dietitian, Olivia Wall, to truly understand what I can be doing to support my body via nutrition. Nutrition is such a powerful tool that can support PCOS, and until this call, I don’t think I was quite aware of how significant a role it plays. I’m well aware good nutrition is vital for overall health, I mean I work at Hip & Healthy and am completely immersed in wellness, but I thought that my currently healthy eating regime would be sufficient. Turns out, there are a few tweaks I can make that could have a positive impact.

Olivia’s top tips for me involved: 

  • Following a Mediterranean-style diet based on the consumption of vegetables, fruits, pulses and wholegrains.
  • Eating foods rich in B vitamins as these are important in optimising the endocrine system
  • x2 portions of oily fish rich in Omega 3 antioxidants as it supports the reproductive cells and protects them from stress. 
  • Supplement Vitamin D, as it acts as a precursor for female hormones.
  • Don’t restrict carbohydrate intake, advice online may say otherwise for PCOS but it is very important to eat wholegrain carbohydrate sources that are rich in B vitamins such as brown rice, oats, quinoa or pearl barley.

Stepping away with a wealth of female health knowledge, my journey with Hertility has been invaluable. Their proactive, personalised approach to health care is so refreshing in the minefield of women’s hormones. When you feel clueless and helpless, they are on hand to provide you with insights through the digital platform that makes the process so seamless, with all your data, bookings, results, and clinical letters stored in the Health Hub. The majority of consultations are held virtually and many of the tests can be done at home, making it convenient and stress-free. With a plethora of articles and insights, explained in layman’s terms, Hertility cuts through the noise and provides evidence-based research in one place. Attempting to get my reproductive health in order felt like a mammoth task, but I’m now much better equipped and informed to proactively deal with the problems I, and so many women out there, face around female health!

words by Isabelle Shury