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SWEETSUNSHINE72's Photo SWEETSUNSHINE72 Posts: 533
5/26/09 9:45 P

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To tell the truth, I'm not sure. I know that I have it very mildly, and it has been darker in the past (before Met), but I wasn't really paying attention to it, so I don't know when it started to fade. Now, you have to look really closely to see it, it's just a faint shadow and mostly just slightly thicker skin with some creases. At school, I was showing the instructor and some classmates so they would know what to look for. They had to look hard, but they did see the difference.


DipMT, Hon (ACTM)
(Diploma in Massage Therapy, with Honours from the Atlantic College of Therapeutic Massage)


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TAVERA1 Posts: 19
5/26/09 11:25 A

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really, the dark areas will go away?????? i've been on met - 1500mg - for 5 yrs and my dark spots are not gone (or even a bit lighter) but then again, my last insulin level was 21 - so obviously my met. is not bringing my insulin levels down - the dr has me doing low-carb and adding exercise to try to get there w/o upping my met - i go back in August to test again - so has your experience been that the dark patches do go away?? And if so, how long once the IR is under control do they start to fade?

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SWEETSUNSHINE72's Photo SWEETSUNSHINE72 Posts: 533
5/24/09 10:21 P

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Less than 17 is technically "normal", but anything above 14 is considered in the "danger zone". Kindof like "pre-IR".

Really, though, if you are getting signs and symptoms of IR, you probably have it, especially if you get darker, thicker skin (can even look "dirty", even right after scrubbing it) in a ring around your neck, in your armpits, under your breasts or other areas where you get skin folds. This is a major, tell-tale sign of IR. It will eventually go away once you get your IR under control, too (so, thankfully, it's not another one that's pretty much permanent! emoticon ).

I belong to another board, www.pcoscommunity.com, and I wrote the FAQ's sticky that's at the top of most of the boards there. Feel free to check it out and read it. We welcome "lurkers"! emoticon

HTH, ladies! emoticon


DipMT, Hon (ACTM)
(Diploma in Massage Therapy, with Honours from the Atlantic College of Therapeutic Massage)


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TAVERA1 Posts: 19
5/24/09 8:36 P

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i just had my fasting insulin done - i'm on 1500mg of metformin XR (the extended release version) and my level was 21 (high) still even with the metformin - so now i've been upped to 2000mg and am eating a low carb diet to see how i can affect that number by August when she wants to do more testing.
Less than 17 is considered normal i believe

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THEMISCREANTMAR Posts: 2
5/24/09 8:17 P

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Thank you guys so much for the support and the information. This whole experience has been somewhat of a nightmare. I think it's important that fellow sufferers share as much information with each other as possible. After seeing the doctors, I really had my doubts about the situation and thought that it was all in my head. I wish doctors would come on sites like these and get sensitized somewhat to what PCOS entails (just like the insulin receptors, haha.)

Please keep the posts coming. With each one, I feel better prepared to fight for my health. I'd really like to know about others' fasting insulin levels and experiences. You ladies rock. =]

TAVERA1 Posts: 19
5/24/09 6:59 P

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i totally agree with the last poster - i would not take the BCPs at all. From personal experience, although BCPs did help with some of the symptoms, it does not treat the underlying problem. Many dr's will throw those at you w/o really looking at your labs or even taking the right labs. In my case they were thrown at me at 17 and by the time i was married and ready to have kids at 23, i couldn't. The dr's had just let me go on my merry way and never really diagnosed me or treated the problem. As a result it took us 3 years of some pretty invasive fertility treatments that didn't even work before i found out about low-carb and what PCOS was - note that even our fertility dr's didn't test me for PCOS because i don't have the tell-tale cysts on my ovaries so they never went any further. Thankfully i found research on the internet and did low-carb, lost 20 lbs and was pg. within 4 months. After my 1st child was born, my periods were completely normal for 19 months (PCOS still not diagnosed because my periods were now normal - see a pattern here??) and then i got pg. with my 2nd - i finally had a dr diagnose me when i was finished nursing my 2nd child 5 years ago. I've been on metformin since then and i have a period every month - w/o the met. i do not have periods at all. My blood pressure is also normal - keep in mind that PCOS is really a collection of symptoms - it's a syndrome basically and not everyone has the same symptoms with it - some just have the period or fertility issues, some have the hair issues, some have the cholesterol and insulin issues, some have obesity and some don't.
My best advice would be to get in to see the endo and in the mean time i honestly wouldn't take the BCPs - you are just throwing more synthetic hormones at a body that is potentially already not working correctly and you don't want those hormones in your system when the endo. does bloodwork on you - you want it as "you" as you can be so that he/she can see what your body is really doing in a cycle. I'd also do a lower carb eating plan to help out with the weight - i could eat low-cal carbs all day and i'd gain weight - try going a lower/good carb route and see if that doesn't make a huge difference. Also, keep in mind that just because you seem to have regular periods, doesn't really mean that they are regular. You could be bleeding every month, but not ovulating - unless you are tracking ovulation you really wouldn't know one way or the other - so just because your periods seem normal to you and you bleed on a regular basis doesn't mean that that cycle is not being affected.

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SWEETSUNSHINE72's Photo SWEETSUNSHINE72 Posts: 533
5/24/09 2:27 P

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There are other factors that can make the testosterone in your body more "potent" (the short explanation! lol). Things like Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), for example. I would say that you really need to get evaluated by an Endo as I think you have multiple things happening. (I know you are already trying!)

PCOS is mainly caused/triggered by IR, so the question of "is this PCOS or just wonky hormones from IR" - it's really the same thing. Really, your doc should be willing to put you on Metformin (a med for IR) due to your insulin levels!

If you are uncomfortable taking BCP, then I would say don't. I know some people love them, but it has been shown that long-term BCP use does make Insulin Resistance worse, which is the last thing that you need! If you are getting at least one period every 3 months, you're OK. If you need to "kick-start" a period, you can use Prometrium (progesterone) to do that when necessary. Some BCP's contain anti-androgens which will reduce the testosterone in your system, but if your testosterone levels are OK, the problem may be in another area. You can take the anti-androgen meds separately, so long as you make absolute sure that you do not get pregnant as they can do NASTY things to a male fetus!!! That goes for any med (herbal or otherwise) that affects your androgens/testosterone, including mint tea (something that a lot of women swear by to reduce excess hair).

What I would suggest you do is: keep up your work with a low-GI-type diet and exercise, eating several times/day and staying hydrated. Take fish oil daily (it's great for metabolism, blood pressure, cholesterol, mood, brain function, and is also good for skin, nails, and hair). Take a good multi-vitamin/mineral and Chromium. This is a good base to work from, and I can't see any doctor disagreeing with it. While you are doing all of this, do your best to get in to the endo, and see if one of your docs will give you Metformin (working up to a minimum of 1,500 mg/day).

If none of this is working for you, then see if you can find a good, qualified naturopathic doctor who can guide you. There is a lot that can be done with dietary changes and some basic, mild supplements, although it can take a lot of willpower at first!

Take care, and HTH!!!


DipMT, Hon (ACTM)
(Diploma in Massage Therapy, with Honours from the Atlantic College of Therapeutic Massage)


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SOUTHERNMEL's Photo SOUTHERNMEL SparkPoints: (36,480)
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5/24/09 8:29 A

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The Insulin is just out of range...are physically active and if so, how often? If you are active and you're trying to lose weight you might be insulin resistant. When I had my blood work done, my value was just out of range; however my doc said that based on my activity levels, my insulin count should have been down around 5. He conclusion was that I'm insulin resistant and my PCOS has become more than just wacked out periods. Your testosterone levels are in range (this doesn't negate your symptoms...you're having hair loss and growth in places it doesn't belong...just not sure if you have high levels for your body and it's causing symptoms or if the symptoms are a sign of something else). In my case, my free testosterone was 57!! My doc said no wonder my body was confused....I was genetically female with the hormones of a male. That number has come down and I'm noticing less "hair" (my unwanted hair growth was very light colored and more like peach fuzz...it was easier to hide and my husband never felt like he was touching an animal); my husband seems to think I'm less combative, and it's easier to deal with me.

There's no evidence that BCP have a link to breast cancer (I have that lovely marker as well). What you have to be careful about is hormone replacement therapy (used to treat menopause or after complete hysterectomy) and breast cancer. The cardiovascular side effects can be problematic; however, with monitoring, BCP can be taken. You would probably be fine because it appears that outside of obesity, you don't have any other issues. I have worked with my overwieght or obese clients who have normal cholesterol, BP, triglycerides, glucose levels, etc. Having weight issues doesn't mean that you will have all of these other problems. It can lead to them over time if you do nothing about it; then again, it might not. There are people with fabulous genes and the only issue they ever have their whole life is weight related.

It seems as though your OB/GYN doesn't really understand PCOS (or thinks that every patient is treated the same). Many of the ladies here see endo's. I personally have found an OB/GYN who takes PCOS seriously and has been working with me for the last 4 years on managing my symptoms. Search around...ask questions before you set up an appointment.

Melissa Nestor, MS, CSCS


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"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health."

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THEMISCREANTMAR Posts: 2
5/23/09 9:51 P

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So..I'm 19 years old, 5'4'', and 255 lb. I've been battling with my weight my whole life, but have nothing to show for it despite efforts of dieting/exercising. Over the last few years, I've noticed changes in my hair. The hair sprouting from the top part/crown has turned into a brillo pad, and it has been falling out all over the place. The hair around my forehead has become so thin that it looks like I'm balding. It sucks big time because when I was young my hair was a thick mane. I also have a mustache and excess body hair. However, I do have regular periods, but they are very heavy and the cramps are severe.

The hair loss was what prompted me to go to the doctor. I probably should have gone earlier since my weight was always out of control, but I thought that it was just the way I was and always going to be. The doctor said that I have PCOS on account of my hair loss, but only tested my Total Testosterone levels and DHEA levels. (Umm..What about Free Testosterone, DHEA*S*, or other hormones?) She sent me out of her office with the birth control pill Tri-Sprintec without even reviewing my results!

Now, I wasn't feeling comfortable taking the BCP because my mother had breast cancer when she was 33, my grandmother suffers from severe cardiovascular disease, and my great grandmother also had breast cancer. So I went to see another doctor. The second doctor had my lipids, fasting glucose, and thyroid tested, but she also sent me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist acted like it was absurd that I was seeing her, said that I should be seeing an endocrinologist, and also ordered labs for my Free Testosterone levels and Fasting Insulin. I still haven't seen an endocrinologist because my insurance is making me run around in circles. But, whatever.

Here are some of my levels:

DHEA - 10.6 ng/mL
Fasting Insulin - 18 uIU/mL
Fasting Glucose - 92 mg/dL
Total Cholesterol - 183 mg/dL
HDL - 43 mg/dL
LDL - 125 mg/dL
Triglycerides - 76 mg/dL
Thyroid (TSH) - 3.11
Total Testosterone - 32 ng/dL
Free Testosterone - 4.3 pg/mL
Sex Binding Hormone - 47 nmol/L

I've been looking all over the net for answers. My Triglycerides and Cholesterol are decent, and my blood pressure is normal which doesn't make sense because I am obese. But is my obesity due to my high DHEA and high Fasting Insulin? Is this causing higher androgen levels at my scalp level? Do you gals think I have PCOS? Or am I just insulin resistant?

Can anybody help me understand?

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