Let's Talk About Lean PCOS [Podcast] - PCOS Diva

Let’s Talk About Lean PCOS [Podcast]

PCOS Podcast 93 Lean PCOS with Dr. DimlerMost women with PCOS are overweight, but it is not necessary to be overweight to have a PCOS diagnosis. Many of us have a version of the syndrome called Lean PCOS. We share all the other symptoms but are often overlooked when doctors are searching for the root of our symptoms. Listen in as lean cyster Dr. Laura Dimler Radziwon and I discuss our experiences with Lean PCOS and:

  • Androgen excess, insulin balance, and acne
  • The journey to find a diagnosis
  • The importance of exercise beyond weight loss
  • Managing perfectionism in diet, exercise, and everything else
  • How to balance stress, anxiety, mood disorders, and hormones

Mentioned in the podcast: 

Complete Transcript Follows

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 Laura Dimler Radziwon, PhD is an assistant professor at Regent University. Because of her own experiences with PCOS, she researchers how puberty and hormones affect a person’s behavior. When she is not conducting research or teaching a class, you can find her running, doing yoga, baking or cooking the latest gluten- and dairy-free recipe she’s found, or spending time with her husband and rescue dog, Lady.

Amy:                                     So, I’m not sure if you’ve heard the statistics that 50-80% of women with PCOS are undiagnosed. And the type of PCOS that we’re going to be talking about today, I think probably makes up a large portion of those women, and that’s lean PCOS. And lean PCOS is something that … it’s kind of the phenotype that I experienced, and my podcast guest today also experiences lean PCOS, and she wrote a wonderful article a while back for PCOS Diva about lean cysters, and I wanted to have her on the podcast to kind of continue the discussion and also to tap into some of her professional background as well. So, I want to welcome Dr. Laura Dimler Radziwon … you’re going to have to correct me, I’m sorry. Laura is a PhD, she’s a developmental psychologist, she’s an assistant professor at Regent University, and because of her own experiences with PCOS, she researches how puberty and hormones affect a woman’s or a person’s behavior.

While she’s not conducting research or teaching class, you can find her running, doing yoga, baking, or cooking the latest gluten and dairy-free recipe, or spending time with her husband and rescue dog Lady. Welcome to the podcast, Laura.

Dr. Laura:                             Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate you asking me to be here.

Amy:                                     No, I’m looking forward to this, this is going to be fun. It’s kind of like two lean PCOS Divas just chatting for the next 30 minutes or so, and if you don’t consider yourself sort of a lean, thin cyster, please don’t go away. I think there’s going to be a lot of valuable information that you’ll learn in the podcast today, but … So, I wanted … first of all, I love your little bio about what you enjoy doing in your spare time. You really sound like a PCOS Diva.

Dr. Laura:                             So I just found … you can even ask my husband, I am in such a mood if I don’t get my workout in, especially if it’s not in the morning. So, it’s become such a routine of mine, but yeah … and I’ve learned all the different dietary things that work best for my body, or even just how to give grace when I fall victim to that really warm piece of bread that is so inviting, so it’s been a long process, but I’ve really enjoyed all the things I’ve learned about myself, my body, and just nutrition and exercise along the way, and hormones.

Amy:                                     Yeah, and I think from reading your article that you submitted to us, I think you’re a little bit like me in the fact that after this struggle and journey with PCOS, you can kind of come out the other side of it feeling like it was somewhat of a blessing because it really allowed you to take a look at your life with a different lens.

Dr. Laura:                             Yeah, I think I … I called it a blessing in disguise, but it is hard to call it a blessing, so it’s really that I found a good silver lining. I really did find a silver lining, because I would have never looked at the back of a nutrition label and read all the ingredients if I wasn’t told, “Hey, you should cut out gluten. Look into cutting out dairy or minimizing it as well, for PCOS reasons.” And I would have never, then, realized what other chemicals I was putting in my body that can affect the PCOS. Lean or not. So, in that sense, that was really part of that blessing.

Amy:                                     Yeah. Well, why don’t you share your story with us? What is your PCOS journey?

Dr. Laura:                             So, it started out nine years ago. Well, for a lot of us, it really started in adolescence, but about nine years ago is when I was diagnosed, so August of 2009, and it took about six to eight weeks to get the diagnosis after all the blood tests and the poking and prodding. And they realized that I didn’t have insulin resistance, I’ve never truly struggled with my weight, but I’ve always had irregular menstrual cycles, I’ve always had horrible acne, I was on Accutane twice, which was the kicker for my general practitioner to say, “That’s not right.” And doctors just expected, “Oh, well your dad had really bad acne, so you just inherited it.” But luckily, I had a really good general practitioner who knew something wasn’t right, and she diagnosed me with PCOS even though I didn’t have any cysts on my ovaries, and really the presentation was hirsutism and acne, and irregular menstrual cycles, as well as low progesterone, and LH and FSH ratio problems.

So, with all of that, she said, “Okay, even though you don’t look like it, I have to diagnose you with PCOS. And fast-forward, a few years later, I got in touch with an endocrinologist and then a reproductive endocrinologist because my endocrinologist and general practitioner about two years later, didn’t believe I actually had PCOS. I actually got looked up and down multiple times and said, “You don’t have it. You must have something else.” So I went to a reproductive endocrinologist who specialized in PCOS, and I will never forget him actually writing down the word lean PCOS so I could take it back to my general practitioner and my endocrinologist who didn’t believe.

And from then on out, I kind of went on this journey of who else has this? What other information is there out there? And being in sciences, I’m lucky to be able to have access to a lot of research, so research wise, I was looking into a lot of it because I couldn’t find any other woman’s story about it, which was how I ended up wanting to write that article for PCOS Diva, I wanted to give hope to other women.

So, eventually, another few years later, I realized there’s this thing called charting your cycles and tracking your cycles, and I had no idea and I got so excited, and I realized that, “Huh, there’s kind of a pattern to my irregular cycles if you will.” And I realized that something else isn’t right. My PMS symptoms aren’t normal. I thought they were, but talking to doctors, they’re not, and luckily, I got hooked up with a doctor that specializes in PCOS, and she was able to realize that by specifically taking my blood at a certain time in my cycle, I have low progesterone and other hormones, and she was able to find out that my PCOS was specifically, and all my hormone issues, were specifically coming from overactive adrenal glands. And by finding out the root of that and not being on … she took me off birth control, took me off spironolactone, because by this point, I had met my husband, and we knew we wanted to start a family, and you can’t start a family on either birth control or spironolactone, and metformin didn’t work for me.

So, she found an actual supplement that worked to calm my adrenal glands.

Amy:                                     So, what was that supplement?

Dr. Laura:                             I’m not completely comfortable saying it-

Amy:                                     Okay.

Dr. Laura:                             Because it’s not made for women that don’t have overactive adrenal glands.

Amy:                                     Yeah, and I also wanted to give a shout out to Dr. Fiona McCulloch, I think she’s the first doctor that I really heard describe it as adrenal androgen excess.

Dr. Laura:                             Exactly.

Amy:                                     Yeah, and I also think that I have that. Like, my issues with PCOS are driven from my adrenals as well, and she writes in her book that … or maybe it was a conversation that I had with her, that it’s more common in sort of the lean population of women with PCOS, yeah.

Dr. Laura:                             Yeah, I’ve read that from her work too. All of her blog, her website, everything. I’ve read her book. She is so wonderful. I was so hoping she was closer to me. But yeah, so it’s amazing, and by finding a doctor who was willing to get to the root cause of the problem and meeting the root, not giving me a Band-Aid solution, my husband and I were actually able to conceive fairly easily by being able to track the cycles and track when ovulation was. So happy to report that we are expecting a little bundle of joy this winter.

Amy:                                     Oh, that’s wonderful. Now, are you having any issues, like with your progesterone levels? Have you had those monitored early in pregnancy?

Dr. Laura:                             Yes, so because my progesterone was actually half of what it’s supposed to be in the second half of my cycle, I’ve been on progesterone support, and specifically, I want to make it clear, bioidentical progesterone, not synthetic progestin.

Amy:                                     Which isn’t progesterone, just to-

Dr. Laura:                             Exactly. That’s why it’s a different name.

Amy:                                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Laura:                             So, I was able to continue that progesterone support, and I monitor it with my doctor as well every few weeks, so just very grateful for that because low progesterone can cause miscarriage, so we’re just very grateful for a doctor who was willing to find and treat the root cause.

Amy:                                     Yeah, and listening to your story and the doctor that kind of didn’t believe that you had PCOS, listening to your symptoms, and you did meet two out of the three criteria, the Rotterdam Criteria, so it sounds like you have excess androgens, and you had the irregular menstrual cycle, but you did not have the polycystic ovaries-

Dr. Laura:                             Or insulin resistance.

Amy:                                     Or insulin resistance, yeah.

Dr. Laura:                             And I think doctors are … and medical professionals in general are just so used to … you can’t fault what they’re taught, correct? So they’re also just so used to seeing a specific presentation of PCOS that other women who present with PCOS that are not exactly that stereotype unfortunately get overlooked or misdiagnosed. And PCOS is already hard to diagnose anyway, since it’s a diagnosis of elimination.

Amy:                                     And you mentioned having the LH to FSH ratio that was high, and that actually is something that I researched, and that lean PCOS women tend to have a higher ratio than classic PCOS-

Dr. Laura:                             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amy:                                     Which I thought was really interesting as well.

Dr. Laura:                             That is really-

Amy:                                     Yeah, and I do … although you did not have insulin resistance issues, when … a lot of women with lean PCOS do, and that’s something that I dealt with, especially kind of like that reactive hypoglycemia and 50% of women with lean PCOS have that. So, what was happening to me, and I had no idea why I was so exhausted all the time, but I had these two little boys, I think at the time, they were like one and four, and you can imagine how busy and active they are. And we would have your traditional toddler lunch, like I wasn’t a PCOS Diva back then, we’d have macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets, and pizza, or whatever it was-

Yeah, and then an hour or an hour and a half later after eating, I would be zonked out on the couch because my blood sugar, although it was normal when I would have it tested at the doctor’s office, have my insulin levels tested, it would tank after eating like a high carbohydrate lunch, and it wasn’t until I used a glucometer that I really understood what was happening, and I could actually show that data to my doctor, and my doctor understood what was happening as well.

Dr. Laura:                             Yeah. So it’s always been normal whenever it’s been tested, but I do notice I get very fatigued if I eat too many carbs, or this, or that, and what is fascinating, research has shown that women with lean PCOS still have more, even if it’s not the level of insulin resistance as classic PCOS, a lot of lean PCOS women still present with insulin issues compared to the average woman of the same age and the same weight and whatnot. So lean PCOS women are still at risk for insulin issues, so I don’t want to put the message out that all lean women don’t struggle with that, or that I don’t struggle with it, because you … just having the diagnosis does put you at risk for it.

Amy:                                     Yeah. And I always thought that we all have some level of insulin resistance whether it’s detected or not, and I think because we’re all bio-individuals, it’s all somewhat kind of unique to us.

I think that’s why it’s so important to get in touch with how food makes you feel. And you’ve been able to identify what foods make you feel sort of tired after you eat them, and so I think it is important for lean PCOS, even though you may not be looking to lose weight, it’s important to keep your blood sugar stable, and make sure that you’re working out and building lean muscle with strength training, resistance training, because we’ve got to improve that insulin delivery to our muscles, right?

Dr. Laura:                             Exactly. So I really found … and it started off as doctor’s orders, and I was actually … doctors actually found that I was allergic to wheat anyway, so I really have to be careful with that. And then I found out that wheat and gluten in general is inflammatory, and then I was also diagnosed lactose intolerant, and found out that’s also inflammatory, and dairy is inflammatory. So finding out and figuring out how all of those different ingredients affect me, my PCOS symptoms, I quickly can tell. If I cheat at all, my acne comes back with a vengeance. And I still struggle with it. Just because I found this “pill” that may work for me and calming my adrenals does not mean that my symptoms still aren’t there, they’re just lessened. But I’ve definitely realized how food and all the lifestyle changes have really positively affected my PCOS symptoms, and I’m not trying to lose weight whatsoever, I’m just trying to get in shape, stay in shape, and continue to build muscle to improve any sort of insulin issues I may have, and generally, it’s just good for you.

Amy:                                     Yeah, and yeah, it’s great for stress reduction. I know I’ve gone through … I’ve shared with some PCOS Divas that I’ve gone through a very difficult time in my life. This summer, my oldest son, right after prom, was diagnosed with a tumor on his pancreas, and just before his eighteenth birthday, the day after his eighteenth birthday, he went for major surgery and was in the hospital for a week, and he had a difficult two weeks post-recovery and beyond, and actually today, we’re headed down to Mass General to do a follow-up to get the results of this last CT scan. So, there’s been a lot of stress in my life, and there was a period, a couple weeks I couldn’t exercise just because I didn’t have the time, I was with him all the time. But I’ll tell you what I could do, I could make the right choices of what to put in my mouth so that I could be present for him, and as soon as I was able to have the time to exercise, it just makes such a tremendous difference in stress reduction.

Dr. Laura:                             It does, it does, and I’m so sorry your family has been going through that.

Amy:                                     Well, there’s definitely silver linings, as you mentioned. I mean, I can’t say it’s a blessing, but I’ve spent some wonderful quality time with my son, we’ve had some great conversations. I really feel so close to him, and that’s definitely a silver lining. But yeah, exercise. You can’t underestimate how it’s such a good mood enhancer, and I think women, lean and classic PCOS, have mood issues, and I think that probably ties in with some of the research you’ve done on how hormones affect a person’s behavior.

Dr. Laura:                             Right. And as you were saying, just want to go back to something with stress. Recently, 2018 has been a wonderful but crazy year. My husband came home from deployment, we had a wedding two weeks later, I finished my dissertation, graduated with PhD, and then we packed up the two of us and our dog and traveled across the country in order to make a cross-country move, and so we weren’t able to exercise much either. And just moving in general, especially driving sixteen, twenty hours a day is not fun, so just making those healthy choices along the way, or bringing healthy snacks, and trying to get those 10,000 steps even if that’s all you can do or whatnot.

That has been kind of a mental health saver for me a little bit because of those mood issues, a stress reliever, but yeah, I know I definitely struggle with mood issues, and it’s not just saying that, “Oh, crazy woman.” Just meant to say, mood issue mean crazy angry, it doesn’t mean anything like that. It can mean that you struggle with depression or anxiety, even if it’s not clinically diagnosed. And that’s really my area of expertise, are mental health issues, but hormones and hormones that are off, that are not at normal range can really affect a woman and a man, but specifically a woman’s PCOS, and/or the mental health issues, because depression and anxiety are absolutely, absolutely linked with PCOS.

Amy:                                     Yeah, and I think that mainstream, the medical community may have not really come onboard with that, I guess, or maybe not … that’s probably not the right terminology, but they’re just not aware of the mood issues, and that women with PCOS should be screened for depression, anxiety, and not to throw eating disorders in with that, but it’s … I think it … yeah, it’s something else that I don’t think is on the radar of a lot of mainstream medical, and women with PCOS need to be screened for that as well.

Dr. Laura:                             Yeah, and I’ve spoken to some women with PCOS who do have a struggle in the past with eating disorders, and a lot of that is linked to anxieties, and they feel like all they can control is their food intake, so when … a lot of times, doctors will say, “Maybe try cutting out gluten.” Or, “Try cutting out dairy.” Or things like that to try to help some systems. Sometimes that’s hard for women who have a past with eating disorders, so … with cutting out a whole food group.

Amy:                                     Right.

Dr. Laura:                             So, I think being careful of that as well, and being mindful of your own mental health, and working with your own doctor to come up with a plan that works for you, but for me, I know that when I’m not taking care of my body, my mental health really, really does take a turn for the worst. And I’ve never been clinically diagnosed with anything thank goodness, but there is a term that we call in psychology of sub-clinical. So it means that you’re still able to go through with your activities of daily living, but you still struggle with these issues. That fog that goes over you, like you see in commercials, that you see people holding up masks to their face, but they’re still able to go to work and get out of bed.

Amy:                                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Laura:                             But, they may-

Amy:                                     Yeah. I know that during this last summer and what we’ve been going through, I’m going to write a blog about this and what’s worked for me because I’ve dealt with a lot of anxiety, not knowing what would happen, the outcome of my son’s health, and I feel like I have some good tools in my tool kit now to be able to manage that anxiety and those low level feelings, and I think that for a lot of us, we’re sort of that sub-clinical. You know, we need to have these tools in our tool kit to kind of help us.

Dr. Laura:                             And if … a lot of people do learn what works for them, but there is nothing wrong with seeking out professional help.

Amy:                                     Yeah. Absolutely.

Dr. Laura:                             It’s absolutely one of my favorite things to hear when people say that they have been or are actively going to therapy. I love it. You go to a doctor when you aren’t feeling great, when you’re under the weather, so go to … you should-

Amy:                                     That’s a great point. Yeah.

Dr. Laura:                             When you aren’t feeling great mentally.

Amy:                                     So, two things that I wrote down in our conversation. Kind of getting back to the food and the way that you view food. You had said something that I thought was beautiful about how you give yourself some grace when you have a delicious warm piece of bread and butter or whatever. You know what? Instead of beating yourself up for it, giving yourself some grace. I was wondering if you could kind of expand on that for us.

Dr. Laura:                             Yeah. So, I always say that sometimes it’s just worth it, but I use that carefully, and I know that if I am purposefully eating something that I know I’m going to have some sort of symptom, one, I’m not allowed to complain because I’m doing it to myself, and two, I give myself some grace of, “It’s okay. I will get back on the horse right away. Not tomorrow. Get back right on the horse.” Right then. Don’t beat myself up … I don’t beat myself up over it. I enjoy the moment, I savor it, and I continue on.

And that’s that, and I think a lot of women beat themselves up over, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it. I ate two slices of pizza today.” Or something. Okay, great. Did you enjoy it? Yes? Continue and move on, and know that you feel better when you don’t eat those two slices of pizza, and you just continue on and do your best. So, that philosophy has really worked for me, and that’s how I stopped beating myself up over it, I stopped viewing exercise as trying to work off the chocolate I ate. That’s my real guilty pleasure is some chocolate.

Amy:                                     Like as a form of punishment rather than a form of pleasure.

Dr. Laura:                             Exactly. Exactly. So I had to find, this is what I tell other women, I had to find a workout that I enjoyed. If I don’t enjoy the workout, I’m either not going to do it or it’s going to be a punishment for me. So if I don’t feel like going for a run, but I know I should, but I don’t feel like going for a run, then I’ll maybe do yoga, or weights, or something else that I feel like doing because then I’ll do it longer and I’ll get more out of it. And that’s why I try really hard to have that outlook on food and exercise as well. Am I perfect at it? No, but I do try my best. And I hope other women find that helpful too.

Amy:                                     Yeah, and let’s talk about for that perfectionism, which we … before I hit record, we were kind of talking about this offline, and I know that you kind of feel, like sense this, in your PCOS community, but I certainly in the, gosh, ten years or so that I’ve been coaching and doing online programs, and even just myself, I find that most women with PCOS are perfectionists or recovering perfectionists. I’m wondering what your professional opinion is of this, considering that you kind of studied hormones and how it affects a person’s behavior, but I do find a lot of women with PCOS are kind of driven and type A, and don’t allow themselves a lot of grace because they expect perfection of themselves, and I wonder, do you think that’s like an androgen driven behavior?

Dr. Laura:                             Oh, at least partially, yes. I am a self-proclaimed control freak. So I am … first step is admitting it, right? And I just know in myself, I get stressed out so much more easily than the average person. So I’ve learned I have to take a step back. Take a few breaths, count to ten and whatnot. But yes, the women I talk to, so many of them struggle with the … the flip side of anxiety is also just stress. You get anxious about something, you get stressed out, then, about something. And a lot of times, that fuse is a lot shorter, so you get there a lot quicker than the average woman.

And I think what’s … the only nice thing is that women can finally be like, “Okay, I’m not the only one that’s like this.” And then you can start to try to work on it, but I have definitely noticed that especially with the androgen excess, increased testosterone, increased DHEA, so it’s really fascinating to see how hormones affect the body. And of course it’s not just hormones, it’s epigenetic, so it’s environment and the hormones. So if you’re in an environment that’s already higher stress, you have a job that’s higher stress, or even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, and have a lot of kids and have a lot of activities going on, that’s a lot going on, that’s a lot of stress. So finding what works for you, either in the moment to lower that stress, when you can just feel the hormones bubbling up sometimes, finding what works for you as well as, again, seeking professional help if you need it.

Amy:                                     Yeah. And I think for me, too, it was learning to be able to say no.

Dr. Laura:                             Yes.

Amy:                                     Yeah. And take things off my plate to give myself more time to relax.

Dr. Laura:                             And you’re not selfish for doing that.

Amy:                                     Yeah.

Dr. Laura:                             Because if your cup isn’t full, you cannot fill up anybody else’s.

Amy:                                     Right. Absolutely. And even this weekend, I had a lot of … you know, my house is kind of in disarray since I’ve kind of haven’t been able to pay too much attention to it, and I was like, “I’m going to clean the whole thing. I’m going to organize.” I had all these expectations of myself, but then on Sunday, I was like, “You know what? I think I just want to sit in the sun and read and allow myself to grace to do that.” So I did, I sat on the hammock and just read and relaxed and let the laundry go and everything else go, so that I could have time to relax and renew. I know my motto lately has been “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.”?

Dr. Laura:                             Yes. I completely understand that motto. We are in the middle of a move. We are not even in our own house yet. We are staying at a friend’s house right now, so I had to learn, why stress out about something when you truly cannot control it? You truly cannot control the outcome. I can’t control when the movers get here. They will get here when they get here with our stuff. So, we’re living out of suitcases until then. I can’t control when we get the keys back to our house. So, I’ve had to learn, what is even worth stressing out about? Is this worth getting riled up about? So, just taking ten seconds, even, to think of the situation and decide, is this even worth being stressed out about? It takes a lot of energy.

Amy:                                     Yeah, that’s great advice. And I think just being able to … gosh, the control thing is difficult for me, too, but to relax into the flow of life is something else that I’ve had to try to do. Surrender. That’s another word that feels good to me, but it’s hard to do.

Dr. Laura:                             Yeah. Yeah, I know. And everyone has their own different traditions and routines, and sometimes for me, it’s when I know I need alone time, I try to wake up early, before my husband, or I know some other women try to wake up before their kids and just even have 30 minutes to drink a whole cup of coffee or something.

Or just have the 30 minutes of quiet time that they may need to start their day on more of a peaceful note instead of a stressful note. So, it’s different for everybody, but finding whatever works for you in order to not let your worries get the best of you, to not let your mental health issues get the best of you. Everybody finds something different, but for me, it’s taking a few steps back and realizing, can I … what aspects of this can I control and what can I not control, and is it worth getting spun up about?

Amy:                                     Yeah. Yeah, because you’re right, it takes a lot of energy. Well, speaking about what works for you, I did jot down … I know that there are so many ladies out there struggling with acne, and if you have any … I know this has been part of your struggle and I’m looking at you right now, and you look gorgeous and your skin is radiant-

Dr. Laura:                             No.

Amy:                                     No, it really is.

Dr. Laura:                             Pregnancy is a whole other ball game, too.

Amy:                                     Well, do you have any tips?

Dr. Laura:                             Yes. So truly, I cannot stress enough the gluten and dairy has really helped. And especially when I eat too much dairy, my acne comes back in full force, and just for full disclosure, I get it on my chest, I get it on my back, my face, so it’s not cute. So, I was really worried about that when I got married, in a wedding dress, I didn’t want to hide. So finding the root cause of the problem and taking something that really calmed my adrenals is what worked best, but for any listeners out there, don’t take anything that calms your adrenals if you don’t have adrenal problems. That can cause more issues for you. But, I also started using an individualized cream that I just get from, honestly, an online doctor, and able to just give me an individualized prescription cream that I put on every night. So between the individualized prescription cream that I get as well as the food, oh my goodness, I’ve seen such a difference. And when we were sitting in a car for a week straight and I wasn’t able to exercise, it was more difficult to eat well, I noticed an increase in my acne completely.

As well as using makeup products that don’t clog pores and that are more natural as well, so don’t have a lot of harsh chemicals in it. I know there are a lot of brands out there that are pretty good for those purposes, that are more natural. So those things. And it’s just fascinating how my confidence is just gone much, much higher. You don’t realize how much your self-esteem is tied into how you look or whatnot, and it sounds really vain to do that, but there’s … women are beautiful, no matter what they struggle with or look like, women are beautiful. But I know it’s hard to believe that when you’re talking about yourself. So sometimes even just clearing up scars or acne can increase confidence in how you feel. Diet, exercise, and having an individualized prescription cream, honestly. I wish I could say it was just diet and exercise, and while that was honestly probably 80% of it, the other 20% really was just I had to turn to prescription, and that’s okay. Again, I had to learn that that’s okay.

Amy:                                     Yeah. No, you’ve got to give yourself grace for that.

Dr. Laura:                             Exactly. But I try really hard to not take antibiotics for it, you can only be on that for so long, so … but when I came off birth control, it definitely came back with a vengeance.

Amy:                                     Yeah, it’s tough now. I’ve been following, and I interviewed Dr. Jolene Brighten. She’s coming out with a book about post birth control syndrome, and yeah, it really wreaks havoc with our systems, and acne can rear its ugly head again after … because our hormones have been suppressed-

Dr. Laura:                             I have many thoughts on that.

Amy:                                     I was just wanting, because we’re going to have to wrap it up here, but you’ve given us some great tips from your journey, I just … is there anything else that you want to leave our listeners with? Maybe a message of hope for somebody listening that’s really struggling with PCOS.

Dr. Laura:                             I can’t stress enough how important it is, at least in my journey, how important it was to chart my cycles and start taking charge of my own fertility and reproductive system, and I wish, I wish somebody had told me about this nine years ago when I started, because I would have been able to forego the birth control if I had known about that. And that’s for a whole other podcast. But know that it is possible, it’s absolutely possible to control your own hormones and find doctors out there who are willing to work with you and not just give you a Band-Aid. Don’t be afraid to be your own advocate. Don’t be afraid to be your own advocate, take charge of your own fertility, and give yourself some grace when you need that piece of really, really good bread or pizza.

Amy:                                     Yeah. Great advice. I’m just going to give a shout out to the OvuSense fertility monitor, which I think is a great tool. I wish I had that when I was looking into it. I used the Creighton Model, which was wonderful-

Dr. Laura:                             That’s what I used, the Creighton Model.

Amy:                                     Yeah, but it’s hard to take that data to your traditional doctor that doesn’t understand that tracking-

Dr. Laura:                             Right.

Amy:                                     Where the OvuSense plots your points on a chart that visually makes more sense to a doctor. So you can see when you ovulated and your cycle, but I do agree with you. It’s so powerful, and it really puts us back in the driver’s seat.

Dr. Laura:                             Exactly. Yeah. The Creighton Model is what has worked best for me, and obviously that’s what helped us achieve pregnancy-

Amy:                                     Yeah. Yay. Well, congratulations again.

Dr. Laura:                             Thank you so much. Thank you so much. And I’m getting more active on it, but I do have, if anybody wants to follow me or find me in the community, I do have an Instagram account called LeanCyster, so Lean C-Y-S-T-E-R. Similar to my PCOS Diva article. And I would love to hear from anyone and everyone who has questions or comments or whatnot for me.

Amy:                                     Great, and we will post that in the show notes as well. But Laura, thanks so much for coming on, and we’ll have to have you back and kind of dive in deeper with hormones and behavior and some of professional work you do.

Dr. Laura:                             I would love to. Thank you so much.

Amy:                                     Thank you. And thank you everyone for listening. I look forward to being with you again soon. Bye-bye.

Dr. Laura:                             Bye-bye.


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  1. I do Creighton charting, how do you see if you need adrenal testing and if you do, what adrenal testing should you advocate for. I feel like my adrenals are my issue but have never had them tested and do not know how. I also don’t want to take something for them without knowing. Any suggestions???