September was PCOS Awareness Month but for many women, they are crucially aware of PCOS, not just for one month, but all of their lives. Brandi Allen, a dear friend and a courageous woman is one of them. For 6 years, she has been fighting for her life. Specifically, the ability to create life. She's desperate to be a mother and has unfortunately reached the end of all fertility treatments within her grasp. Brandi is now faced with two choices: ask for help, or give up on motherhood forever.
Brandi's Story; a Battle with Infertility
Brandi Allen: a woman, a fighter, a would-be-mother at war with her own body to have a child.
Her Diagnosis and Struggle to Concieve
Brandi is a 26 year old Ohio woman with big ambitions. While working on her college degrees, she spends the days helping Veterans attain their VA benefits. In a few short months she will have a Bachelors degree in Business, and within a 1-2 years she will have a Masters in Psychology. Among these ambitions, there's one very personal and fundamental goal: become a mother. What comes so easily and naturally to millions of women does not come easy for Brandi. At just 19, she was dignosed with a condition known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS. Because of her PCOS, it is unlikely she will ever conceive through natural methods.
PCOS causes a variety of problems. Her ovaries are coated with cysts in a pearl effect; on a sonogram, it literally looks as if her ovary was wrapped with a pearl necklace.
Some other symptoms of this awful condition are:
- Menstrual disturbances
- Irregular or absent periods
- No bleeding to excessive spotting
- Cycle lengths more than thirty-five days
- PMS and pelvic pain
- Infertility and miscarriage
- Hair and skin problems (acne, seborrhea, balding, and more)
- Mood problems, such as anxiety, agitation, depression, and mood swings that are commonly triggered by excess male hormones like DHEA
- Insomnia, with very restless sleep and/or difficulty falling asleep
As discomforting as these symptoms are, for Brandi the worst symptom is infertility. This isn't just a "symptom," it's a heartbreaking life sentence.
She says that having PCOS is defeminizing enough as it is but being told she'll never experience pregnancy and motherhood is the most devastating and heartbreaking news to hear.
What Causes Infertility?
According to AttainFertility.com, PCOS is defined as "A complex hormonal disturbance with a wide range of symptoms, PCOS affects up to 10 percent of women in the U.S. today."
While most women with PCOS have a mild case and don't have too much trouble conceiving, Brandi has a rare, severe case which makes the odds of conceiving almost impossible to beat.
There are multiple reasons why PCOS causes infertility but a prominent reason is because of the hormonal imbalance. The cysts on Brandi's ovaries release a high amount of androgen- a male hormone which blocks ovulation.
Brandi explains, "In a nutshell, PCOS causes infertility and many other health problems. My horomones are completely backwards which causes my reproductive organs not to ovulate, or release an egg for fertilization. I am unable to try the natural remedies of tracking ovulation within my cycles because I am lucky to have 1-3 menstrual cycles per year. I have been trying to conceive for 6 years now because I was told at 19 the older I get, the more difficult it will be to not only conceive, but to carry a baby full term. I am currently on medication to help, but it seems the odds are not in my favor."
While Brandi may only be 26, as she gets older it is increasingly difficult for her to conceive. Having PCOS causes her organs to age quicker. So while she looks 26, her organs are more like that of a 52 year old. This isn't always the case with women of PCOS, but Brandi has an extreme case that causes exceptional torment.
- By age 30, 50% of women with PCOS have blood sugar problems with either impaired glucose regulation, producing too much insulin or insensitivity to the body's own insulin, or full-blown diabetes
- Women with PCOS have and eleven-fold increase of risk of heart (cardiovascular) disease that can appear in their late 20’s and early 30’s
- Women with PCOS ages 39 to 49 have four times the heart attack risk of women without PCOS
- Women with PCOS have a higher risk, at younger ages, of uterine and breast cancers
Brandi's Plea for Help
Brandi has found love with a man who shares the same family oriented values. They're committed to having a family together and have reached the point of asking for help. She knows her purpose in life is to be mother and while she's never been one to ask for charity, she is desperate for help in creating life.
Brandi has created a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising money for fertility treatments as well as raising awareness about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
If you are able and willing, please read more about Brandi and donate to her cause on her website. The smallest donation counts. For every mother and father out there, I only ask that you imagine what it would be like if you never had children. If the thought causes you even the smallest measurement of heartache, please give to Brandi's fund so she no longer has to experience such a loss.
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