Welcome to Episode 4 of Season 7 of The PCOS Revolution Podcast:
Hope After Miscarriage: Melissa’s Story
Did you know miscarriage is almost twice as likely in women with PCOS? During this episode a special guest shares her experience with PCOS, an unfortunate miscarriage and how she developed a passion for helping others with PCOS.
This week on PCOS Revolution Podcast, I am having a conversation with Melissa Christie. She is an Australian mom and singing teacher and the founder of PCOS Pathways. She also wrote the book the PCOS Journal and has dedicated her time to understanding the condition and her experience of it.
Despite the healing journey Melissa has on, Melissa miscarried her first child. With the rates of miscarriage almost double in women with PCOS, Melissa set about healing her PCOS once and for all. What she found was a lack of resources and support so she decided she wanted to contribute to changing that. Melissa then began creating the PCOS Journal.
Melissa found herself taking so many supplements, focusing on diet and moving her body. She didn’t know what was working and what wasn’t. She didn’t know what was impacting which symptoms. She craved clarity and she didn’t feel on top of everything. This motivated her to provide a resource that helped with that.
Learn more about Melissa, her journey, her insight and knowledge during this episode of the PCOS Revolution podcast.
READ the entire transcript here:
Hello, everyone and welcome back to the PCOS Revolution podcast. Today I’m here with Melissa Christie who’s an Australian mom and singing teacher from Northern New South Wales, Australia. She’s also the founder of PCOS Pathways and the author of The PCOS Journal, Melissa was diagnosed with PCOS in 2012. She’s dedicated her time to understanding the condition and understanding her own experience of it. That’s what we’ll be talking about today. Despite the healing journey Melissa embarked on since her diagnosis in 2015. While backpacking through India. Melissa miscarried her first child, unfortunately, and with rates of miscarriage almost double for women with PCOS, Melissa said about healing PCOS once and for all. What she found was a lack of resources and support, and she decided that once she had gotten through her grief, she would contribute to changing that. About a year later with a newborn son, Melissa began creating The PCOS Journal. Her first edition was dated 2019, and she actually had great reviews from it. She’s going to talk a little bit about that today, and why that’s so important. So welcome, Melissa to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m really happy to be on here with you.
We talked a little bit about what drove you to work with PCOS, to write about it and to create this journal. What did you feel like was missing? I guess from from the treatment of PCOS? In your case?
Well, for me, it was that often when you’ve got PCOS, you’re taking so many different medicines at once, to treat the huge array of symptoms that you have and I found it was actually after I had that miscarriage. I was really desperate to heal my PCOS, because I really, I really wanted to avoid having another miscarriage, and I found myself taking seriously like 12 different supplements at once, plus thinking about my diet and focusing on moving my body and having a healthy lifestyle. That was so many approaches I was having to hit this PCOS and really try and heal it.
Which is cool that I kind of found that, I didn’t know what was working and what wasn’t, I didn’t know what was affecting which symptom. I just felt really lost in that. I really craved clarity around that. I wanted to feel really on top of everything, and I didn’t feel really everything. I really wanted a resource to help with that. That was was the initial thought that ended up leading to becoming The PCOS Journal. In the journal, one of the tools that it has is a symptoms and treatments tracker so that you can see the correlation between the two. So that you can mark down each day that you’re taking everything and what might be affecting what, that was where it was born. Obviously, it grew into being more than just that. It was just something that I wanted in the beginning, and then I thought, Oh, well, I guess probably other women would be to with that one as well. So
That’s awesome, it looks like it’s so important. Also, just to kind of get your thoughts down on what’s working and what’s not. Because there’s so much information out there. Some of it doesn’t apply to everybody. I think that the key is finding out what works for you. I love hearing stories of women on the show who have conquered their PCOS symptoms through whatever route that they take might be at Western medicine, Eastern medicine, Ayurveda, so many things. I love hearing about those stories. And I think that each time we tell that story, it helps somebody else out there. Tell us about a little bit about what worked for you as far as your struggle to get pregnant, and then during pregnancy.
Well, I’ve tried a lot of different things from my PCOS. Even from when I was diagnosed, I just really dove pretty deep into it. I changed my diet. I saw not true path for a long time, and that really helped. But then I ended up kind of finding Ayurveda, which is traditional Indian medicine, and then I really helped. But ultimately, it was traditional Chinese medicine that really helped me. I don’t tell people that I think it’s the answer for everybody. For someone else, it might be nothing. But for me, it really helped me, when I started taking Chinese medicine, it was when I was traveling, and I was in China, I didn’t have any medicine left with me and my PCOS was pretty out of control. I found a practitioner in China. And, within days, I ovulated, and I went on to have perfect 28 day cycles, which I just never had. It was just so instant for me, it just worked. One thing that differed with it to all the other approaches is that I didn’t really understand it, I like to really understand what’s going on and what’s affecting what but I mean, though, it was a language barrier. It’s just such a different and complex medical system, to anything that we would sort of be used to, I’m sort of used to. That was really different, but I just put myself in a hands and you know, it worked, I got pregnant right away. As you mentioned, that ended up being unfortunate, and I miscarried that baby at 13 weeks. But then later, when we started trying to get pregnant again. I went on Chinese medicine, and again, just straight to 28 day cycles, and I got pregnant right away. And that time, I was lucky enough to carry full term and I now have a two year old son. But a part of that was early pregnancy care. That’s something that I really, if I was to, I guess distill down my purpose for doing the journal for doing my whole online website, everything, it would be to just really help women understand how important progesterone is in early pregnancy. In the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, the mom is responsible for producing the progesterone, which is essential to the life of the growing baby. After about 10 weeks, the baby takes over. Women with PCOS, we can already have a pretty hard time making progesterone, and our rates of miscarriage are almost double. One of the reasons that we might miscarry is low progesterone, and I never knew that I had never heard it, I’d never read it, no one had ever told me. And when I lost our first baby, we were in India at the time, that got really great. I had a really fantastic doctor over there who was sort of at the forefront of research and everything for PCOS, and she let me know that and she was like, it’s probable that this is what’s happened to you, your progesterone levels are lower.
I go well, okay. And so when I got pregnant again, the next time I was seeking a doctor, I was back in Australia, and I was seeking Dr. to test my progesterone regularly and that first trimester and supplement if necessary, because you can have supplements if it’s low, it was actually really hard to find a doctor who knew anything about this. But eventually I found a gynecologist that knew all about it and put me on progesterone right away, and my progesterone levels were low. I didn’t need the supplements. So whether or not that’s the reason I now have a son or or not I’m very happy to know that piece of information and that I could act on it. I think that’s probably the most important treatment that I’ve had on my PCOS journey, but then also the traditional Chinese medicine really helped me, although in saying that I’m now on a bit of a different path, and I’m exploring functional medicine. That’s been a whole other thing, which is really exciting.
Yeas, very cool. We sound like we have similar stories. I actually went to China to study Chinese medicine. I discovered I had PCOS in Chinese medicine school, and I was 19. And take this formula for five years. That was the farm that I used to conceive my children on, it’s crazy, because I just knew birth control wasn’t the answer for me. And that was the only option that was offered. So it’s like, No, I think we’ll choose a different path here. I think there needs to be some education around progesterone, because we do see it in our clinic where women are low. We usually ask them to routinely check with their gynecologist about their thyroid levels and their progesterone, since that can be compromised with PCOS. I think it can make a difference between miscarrying or not, and I’m glad that you found a doctor that would listen to you. And you do find that in Australia, there are Chinese medicine doctors that are working a lot with PCOS?
Yeah, it does a lot of Chinese medicine and Ayurveda practitioners around I think, if you’re somewhere really remote, be true. I live in a regional area, a rural area, but I do have a town nearby. That’s about 15,000 people, and we’re going to our Ayurveda practitioner and to Chinese medicine practitioner. That’s a fairly small place in the scheme of things, and it’s in its scope, probably. There’s also research happening in our country, at least to Chinese medicine, to be honest, I’m not sure about Ayurveda but I know that there’s a trial that’s happening soon in Sydney. I don’t think it’s the horrible side of Chinese medicine, which is really my only experience with it. But it’s looking at acupuncture and PCOS.
Very cool. There are so many good practitioners in Australia, too. I know that Zita West is one, I think she practices Chinese medicine and have several of our books, I’m not sure what city she’s on, but she might be a New Zealand. It’s basically a movement, also with the research for PCOS that’s happening with Australia, and was last summer, I think, where they established new guidelines from Australia. I feel like you guys are ahead of the curve?
Well, when you look at that kind of high level stuff, I think we kind of might be. But all the stories I hear and the experiences I have seemed to mirror the US a fair bit on the ground level in terms of when we go to the doctor and we get advice kind of stuff, it’s all very similar. Hopefully that top down stuff kind of happens. I went to actually a symposium in Australia last year, it was for practitioners, and there was a PCOS symposium. And there were like 250 practitioners in that room listening to the talks from some really amazing people who really know their stuff about PCOS like Dr. Laura Brighton, and those is really wonderful woman cap, Dr. Carolyn, she’s a Chinese medicine practitioner, and they were giving really great advice. Hopefully that has sort of a flow on effect, these 250 practitioners from around the country, and surely they will share it in their clinics. And I think that can only be a good thing.
I love Dr. Brighton, we actually had an episode featuring her on our show, that’s really exciting. I think the word is getting out through what you do, having podcasts, having discussions about it and taking away the stigma of PCOS. It shouldn’t be a stigma, it’s a metabolic condition that can definitely be reversed. I believe so. If you could pick one thing that really helped more than anything with your symptoms, what would it be? besides a progesterone.
Progesterone is a big one, I have just done so many different things along the way. It’s not really a medicine that I would want to talk about. But most of the things that I’ve learned that’s helping me currently is, as I mentioned, I started seeing a functional medicine practitioner. It’s just been so insightful. With functional medicine, they do some really deep testing of things that you wouldn’t normally get tested, like gut testing. There’s a test called the Dutch test, it’s a big hormonal profile, it really goes into depth about a lot of stuff. And also, I did some, I think it’s called him mineral testing, and it tests heavy metals and stuff in your hair, that’s been really enlightening. For me, I love that I had quite a bit of heavy metal toxicity. And that this is really affecting my hormones, because it’s blocking the normal pathways and production of my hormones. It could even be the absolute root cause of all of my PCOS, so that’s really interesting, something that I’ve never known about, heard about, or read about anything, it’s been really interesting going through this detoxing process to get these heavy metals out, and the heavy metals also take up the place of other minerals in your body. I think mercury takes the place of 90 million. I’ve been taking this really good quality magnesium supplement for, well, when I got the testing, I think I’d been taking it for four or five months and yet I had a really extreme magnesium deficiency, it was the same with calcium and zink. It’s likely because these heavy metals were taking the place of the sun, my body just couldn’t accept them. It’s not really a medicine that’s been helping me lately, I’m on a lot of different medicines, but it’s all more than that knowledge, learning that knowledge of what’s going on on a really deep level in my body so that I can find the right path for me, which is what I’m all about talking about really is is really trying to get to the crux of what is going on with your own personal body because we’re all so different.
Yes, too important to be your own health detective, because no one more proactive than you. I love that strive for that. I think every woman with PCOS should look at the Dutch test. I actually have a patient who’s 12 years old, we just did the Dutch test on and she has early PCOS symptoms already, and was given antidepressants. If we actually did this test on girls around 12 to 14 years old, before they are even going down that path, I think it would be so helpful for them to not feel bad that it was like, Oh, this is me. Well, it’s not really you. It’s your hormones. I’ll just say her testosterone was four times the normal level of an adult, it was way too much for her body to handle. So just learning about what can be helpful for your own particular condition, I think is so important, and finding that practitioner that you can talk with and really get to the root of it, because it is kind of like peeling layers of an onion sometimes.
I think finding, like you just said, a good practitioner it’s such a big part of the journey. I love my practitioners,I love finding really good ones. That’s so important on my journey, because yes, I’m my own health detective, as you said, which I really like. But also, having someone you really trust who has ideas, and so much knowledge I think it’s good for your mental health. You have someone in your corner, you don’t feel as alone. And certainly, when you look outside of Western medicine, at least in my experience, you begin to find those health care practitioners who really have given you the time, like you go to your GP and it’s a 15 minute in and out, and they’re very limited in what they can offer you because they just don’t have that much to offer medicine wise. Whereas if you go to a practitioner, a naturopath, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda functional medicine, I’m often your consultations, your initial ones to two and a half it’s in depth and it feels amazing when you’re dealing with a chronic condition that’s so complex, and it affects so many parts of your life to have someone give you that much time. It feels really good. And it makes you feel like okay, I’ve got direction, I have someone helping me.
Yes, I’m there. I mean, it’s really hard to address PCOS in 15 minutes, it’s really hard. We put the gist of the most important tools that we use with our patients and with PCOS, that we work with different parts of the country in the world, into an online portal, because we thought, at least when you have a practitioner that you’re going to, and maybe it’s hard to find that person, but whoever. You could start incorporating certain things and knowing the right questions to ask and getting your blood work and reading it yourself, because when people are told, oh, everything’s normal, sometimes it’s not normal, that’s the biggest you are, it can be missing that. Just being your own advocate is so important. And yeas, it’d be great to actually have a person in every state in every country that actually was supporting women with PCOS. But until that time, I think it’s important to reach out to each other and, share what’s working and what’s not. If you could share a book maybe that you’ve read that, that you’ve liked that you wish other women with PCOS knew about what do you have any recommendations?
Yes, there’s a couple. There’s definitely Lara Brighton’s book “The Period Repair Manual” I really like “Healing PCOS”, from Amy Meddling. She is so knowledgeable, she has so much information in her head and she’s gotten it out into her book. I think that’s really nice. There’s another one that’s helped me, although it’s not PCOS specific, it’s called “The Fertility Diet” I forget who it’s by, I know it’s got like a little pea pod on the front, but that just it’s not PCOS specific. I learned some really good information in there about nutrition, that’s really helped me some really great stuff about dairy and plant proteins and other things. I find that I keep going back to it and like reading little bits from it. So that’s been really helpful.
I definitely will link those books and our show notes as well for listeners. I think that sharing what you’ve gone through also will help them and who are possibly considering getting pregnant also, or if you are pregnant right now, kind of know that there are a little bit extra steps to take when you have PCOS, for sure. And the self care part, getting that journal out and journaling at just about things that you are grateful for, and things that are helping and working in your life. It’s so important. It changes your Outlook, it really does. Thank you for that, for putting that out there in the world, thank you so much, Melissa, for being here today and taking time out your schedule, I look forward to digging in a little more to your journal. If anybody has any comments, please go on our Facebook page. We look forward to speaking to everybody next week. Take care of yourself and have a great week!
- What drove Melissa to work with PCOS and write the journal ([1:27])
- The power of telling your story ([4:05])
- What worked for Melissa regarding pregnancy ([4:30])
- Importance of early pregnancy care ([6:48])
- Causes for miscarriage ([7:32])
- Education around progesterone ([10:02])
- Chinese medicine and PCOS ([10:41])
- Remedies for symptoms ([13:53])
- It’s not you, it’s your hormones ([17:20])
- Being your own advocate ([20:08])
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
- Learn more about Melissa Christie here
- The PCOS Journal is a 12-month, undated health diary designed specifically to help women with PCOS manage their journey and get informed. The information and charts will help women understand their treatment options and their own body so they can find the right treatment for them. You can get a copy of The PCOS Journal at www.pcospathways.com/shop
- Read Lara Briden’s book The Period Repair Manual, Amy Medling’s book Healing PCOS and The Fertility Diet
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Disclaimer: The information in this podcast is intended for general audience only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or replace professional medical advice.