LIVING WITH PCOS
by carol arnold
In my line of work (marketing and PR) I am fortunate to come into contact with some very unique and special people on a daily basis. Many of these remarkable people are doing wonderful things to help others. Lesa Childers is one such person. A social worker by background and a fellow woman with Syndrome O, some may call her a “cyster”; Lesa has an amazing story of overcoming a 10-year battle with infertility. This emotional journey led her to start PCOStrategies, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to giving women with PCOS a "fighting chance" for enhanced fertility and overall well-being through development of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, her amazing story was the subject of an article in the March 21 issue of First for Women magazine and a chapter in “Healing Syndrome O: A Strategic Guide to Fertility, Polycystic Ovaries and Insulin Imbalance” (Avery, 2004).
Lesa’s problems with PCOS began when she was a teenager and was experiencing absent periods, dramatic weight gain and disturbing facial hair growth. This continued throughout her teenage years and when at 18 she hadn’t had a period for a year, reached 180 lbs. (on her petite frame) and was feeling lousy, she started seeking answers. That answer came in the form of the birth control pill, not realizing this was simply a band-aid for the underlying problem, and it caused bouts with excessive bleeding and hemorrhaging. Gradually her periods became normal but still the other symptoms persisted and she was clinically depressed and because her self-esteem was so low, she didn’t care about her appearance.
As a 19-year old newlywed, her quest for answers continued but came in the form of demands. First diagnosed with an adrenal gland problem that caused her to spend hours in the library doing research, she stumbled across information on PCOS and quickly knew that’s what she had. Excited to have at least some answers, her excitement quickly grew to disappointment when she found that women with PCOS have a hard time conceiving. Desiring not to go through the maze of fertility treatments her and her husband decided to adopt their first child.
Age age 28, Lesa developed Type 2 diabetes and was devastated. Again, this sent her back to the library to do more research where she learned that her body was in a state of insulin overdrive. It was then that she was finally able to put the Syndrome O pieces together and determine some of what was going on with her body. Learning that making lifestyle changes was the way to resolve her diabetes and prevent heart disease, she decided to take action. Action came in
the form of making dramatic changes to her diet and embarking on an exercise regime.
Still with a nagging desire to have more children and knowing that her reproductive system wasn’t functioning as it should but not really knowing why, she decided to visit an infertility specialist who explained the link between her metabolic challenges and fertility. This motivated her even more to continue on her diet and exercise regime. However, Lisa wanted to become pregnant in the short term so she underwent injections of fertility medications and other attempts to induce ovulation, none of which worked. Then, in 1998, she underwent a procedure called ovarian drilling to eliminate many of the follicles and cells that were producing excess androgens and it is believed that this, in combination with her healthy lifestyle plan through which she had lost over 50 lbs., is what resulted in her eventual pregnancy. Later in 1999 Hannah, a healthy baby girl was born.
Throughout much of her ordeal, in addition to working full-time as a social worker, Lesa had volunteered for the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association in a number of capacities to help other women like herself. But, in 2001, she decided to combine her education with her professional, volunteer and personal experiences to help the millions of women who are trying to conceive and founded PCOStrategies, Inc. a 501c3 organization that, through workshops, one-on-one coaching and the only magazine dedicated to Syndrome O, helps those who are fertility challenged to develop a healthy lifestyle to increase their odds of conception. Over the last 4 years, Lesa has helped many women throughout the country to conceive.
To learn more about PCOStrategies or to sign-up to receive O Rounds, a free online magazine for women with PCOS, visit www.pcosupport.org.
about carol arnold
Carol Arnold is a Director for the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association (www.pcosupport.org). She joined PCOSA as a volunteer when she was diagnosed with PCOS in 2001 and has been a driving force in increasing the awareness of PCOS. She is a frequent speaker and author on PCOS, women's health and plus-sized issues and has been quoted in numerous publications including Reader's Digest and Low Carb Living.
Outside of PCOSA, she is the President & CEO of Arnold Communications, which is dedicated to cost-effectively increasing the sales and awareness of small to medium sized businesses all over the U.S.