We all know that how we feel can have an affect on our physical health – but what does this mean when it comes to female-specific health issues that are often chronic or recurring? The emotional root of PCOS (Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) is something I have real life experience discovering, confronting, and then working through to the other side. Putting my PCOS into remission was definitely down to changing my diet, and Cycle-Syncing my lifestyle, but I also had to work on the emotions I held about living in a female body.
In past posts in this series we’ve looked at the psychological connection when it comes to fibroids, functional ovarian cysts, and endometriosis and each has a different aspect, yet they all come back to one throughline – what it means to be a woman in a female body, living and moving in this world. It all comes back to that collective female experience.
Your first period and PCOS
When it comes to PCOS, it goes right back to your first period. Many of us experience this in a negative way because we don’t have the right cultural context to celebrate, enjoy, or be happy about starting menstruation. It can cause a certain amount of trauma, especially if you’ve not even had the conversation that this will happen prior to the day your period arrives.
The unconscious response to this develops into a belief that your female body is a burden, a problem, and going to only hold you back. It doesn’t set up a positive foundation to what it means to be a woman in the important, formative years.
Having PCOS adds another layer of confusion to this – as secondary sex characteristics will come slower, with breast development and body shape changes all coming at a later point for the PCOS-suffering teen than for other young women. You’re already, at such a young age, set up for feeling your body doesn’t work how you have been told it’s supposed to be working. That feeling is internalized and it’s really tough to shake.
Finally, you don’t get your period when you should. Or you get it, but then the next one doesn’t come for a long time. You feel in your life like your ovary functions – starting but not finishing ovulation and the cycle. It was amazing to me, after I put my PCOS into remission, to see a whole other pattern emerge in my behavior around beginning and finishing projects. I thought I always had issues with procrastination, but really, I was struggling, like my ovary, to follow through. Once my ovulation and cycle were back on track, so was my productivity. But before I got back in my FLO, all of this had me thinking that on some fundamental level, I wasn’t good enough.
The physical impact of negative self-talk
I recall growing up feeling divorced from my body. Divorced is the best word I can think of to describe that sense of disconnect, that sense of not feeling like it was the best idea to connect with being female. That somehow it would hinder my ability to be successful in life. I couldn’t connect to anything about myself that was female in a positive way. My body was not developing like other girls around me. It was very confusing. It was simpler for me to live completely in my head and just ignore everything from the neck down as best I could.
Over time this relationship to the body and the self can become a pattern of self-critical thinking. The world is telling you that your body is flawed, you are flawed, and so you think negative things about yourself in anticipation of this and as a way to take control. Negative self talk is proven to have detrimental effects on your physical health and well-being. Stopping the pattern of self-criticism that drives many of us, and not just those of us who suffer with PCOS, was part of my personal process in managing my PCOS and putting it into remission, and it’s part of the process I help women through here at FLO Living.
A constant stream of negative self-talk creates the opposite of harmony for your physiology. This self-talk might be “I’m fat” or “I’m not pretty enough” or it might be “I’ll have PCOS forever” or “My body will never work like it’s supposed to.” You say these things to yourself, internally, and your body listens and hears. Your body reacts with a stress-response and this is how those words become obstacles to your body’s healing and recovery. What you think about your body shows up in your periods.
Of course, with PCOS, diet and lifestyle changes are also essential components of treatment – and I’ve previously detailed here on the blog the best supplements for PCOS, the right foods for managing symptoms, as well as the worst foods for triggering symptoms. Plus, I have outline the PCOS spectrum and the confluence of causes from microbiome issues to inflammatory response. How women with PCOS feel about their bodies is just one factor, but it’s a factor I think deserves attention.
One woman’s story
The same day I was thinking about writing this article I had a call scheduled with a woman with PCOS. Once we got on the phone she immediately told me, “I don’t feel like I’ve really been doing a good job.” She was immediately critical of her efforts to adhere to the diet changes and the Cycle-Syncing lifestyle. She sounded down and frustrated.
However, as I asked her more specific questions, she revealed that a) her period was on time for 3 months b) she’d lost more weight in 2 months than she had lost in 3 years and c) friends had told her that her skin was glowing! This had happened in just a few months on the FLO Living protocol after years and years of little progress! But she couldn’t see these victories, these causes for celebration, because she was mired in negative self-talk and habitual critical thinking.
Once I pointed out to her how well she was doing, she felt she had permission to embrace those victories and feel good about herself. But it took unpacking the psychological root of her perspective and turning the mirror on how she was writing her story to get her to that place. Once she could see these victories she had the strength and power to carry on and keep making gains. And that’s key because she was about to stop trying. The perfect PCOS energetic trap – starting, but not finishing self-care due to self criticism.
Sometimes you struggle with your health for so long that you come to believe deeply that there might be no way out and that each avenue is just a series of can’ts and won’ts. This means that once you do start to regain your health, it can be hard to recognize right away. And of course, sometimes you actually need to see your body responding positively to your best efforts to feel more positively towards your body. That progress can become a bridge, leading to stopping the pattern of negative self-talk and re-connecting mind to body.
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
To your FLO,
We believe that no woman should suffer simply because she has a period.
And we also know that it’s not always possible to get access to functional and holistic healthcare solutions — sometimes they’re too far away and most of the time they are way too expensive.
That’s why we offer phone and Skype consultation sessions with our FLO coaches.
All of our expert FLO coaches have been trained by Alisa on top of being certified health coaches and licensed acupuncturists. And they are all qualified to help you find the right next step for you in getting out of hormonal chaos and into your FLO. Work with a FLO Coach and find your customized plan to solve your period symptoms.