I’ve often wondered to myself, “can stress make PCOS worse?” I’ve brushed it off in the past, thinking there’s really not much I can control. I thought about it again this week. On Wednesday, I went back to work after a 2+ week vacation (it was glorious!). On Tuesday night, I had my first outburst—the first one in about two weeks, mind you—at my husband. He asked me a simple question and I just snapped. For a split second I had no idea where the anger was coming from, and then I remembered: “oh, it’s because I go back to work tomorrow.”
I like my job duties well enough, but the environment in which I work is such an energy-suck. I work on a large campus that houses over 1,000 employees in a dozen buildings or so. The building I am in is an abandoned warehouse with gray walls, ceilings and floors. There are only a few windows around the perimeter (the higher-ups get to enjoy those) and very little natural light; I have two lamps and that doesn’t even cut it most days. Even the cubical walls are grey. It’s just a dark, dreary place that totally dampens my mood each day I walk in. The fact that I work all day in the death-building combined with the fact that there’s little-to-no-time at night to get the 576 things I need to get done in a day leads me to stress out a lot. It was nice on vacation: we went to bed late and—thanks to my son—got to sleep in late, too. There was TIME. Whereas now there is not. It sounds silly, but it stresses me out.
I started this job a bit over four years ago, which was—you guessed it—when I really started to notice my hair loss. And other symptoms, too: my acne got a bit worse. I started not sleeping. I became irritable. I wasn’t myself. Things improved a bit and then got worse again…it was a never-ending cycle.
Is stress totally to blame for PCOS? I don’t think so, but I do think stress can make PCOS worse. So many of us are sensitive to testosterone, and we know stress can raise testosterone levels. Those of us who struggle in this area might experience a double-whammy.
My hair loss really sped up when I was pregnant—again, stress (sure, I was emotionally stressed but my body was physically stressed). Then, after I had my son, I got *really* stressed: he was born early and had some heart issues. He also had sleep apnea and was put on a heart monitor. He had reflux, which caused him to be colick-y (he is now 100% a-ok in all areas, thank goodness). My sleeping got even WORSE—there was days when I probably got only 90 minutes total of fragmented sleep. Not because he work up every few hours (which he did), but because something changed in my body after giving birth; I had sleep issues for awhile, but now my body Simply. Would. Not. Sleep. Catnaps save mothers’ lives; I experienced one only once. And that was because my Mom came over to babysit while I took a nap. It was BAD. Once he started sleeping through the night (around 4 months) things improved a bit with my own sleep habits; now, I only have really horrible nights about twice/week. But, during that time period, my body was certainly stressed…and that is when my major hair loss happened. It was also post-birth (and post-nursing) that my periods became wackier than ever. My body was officially screwed up!
Things have evened out a bit since then but I’m still “blessed” with some lingering issues—the most “important” one being the hair loss. So, this year I need to learn to chill out. I don’t know how I’ll teach myself this, but I owe it to my health.
How about you—can stress make PCOS worse, in your opinion?
There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.”
― Edgar Allan Poe
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net