Managing a chronic illness isn’t always as simple as a single prescription, surgery or diet. It can take lots of trial and error and even having to decide if you’d rather live with symptoms of your disease or side effects of the treatment — a frustrating reality many people, even doctors, don’t quite understand, as “Teen Mom OG” star Maci Bookout pointed out during Monday’s episode.
Bookout’s storyline focused on her experience with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormone disorder that can cause irregular periods, infertility, unwanted hair growth or thinning hair, mood changes, acne and cysts to grow on the ovaries. While in the car with two friends, Bookout explained that she can go six months without a menstrual cycle, then have one and bleed for a month straight. She said her pain comes from cysts on her ovaries rupturing. “It’s the worst pain ever. It’s terrible,” she said.
She said the “hard part” is the anxiety and irritability that comes along with it.
“Sometimes I’m like if I didn’t have PCOS, then maybe I wouldn’t have been so irritable with my children today,” she said.
Later in the episode, Bookout went to an appointment with Dr. Kirk Brody, an OB-GYN, to get more information about PCOS and talk through her options. Bookout said she was diagnosed eight years ago and has been using birth control as a treatment method. She hadn’t had a period in two months, and her last one lasted 14 days.
Brody said PCOS is an “ongoing thing” but there are medications that can be used. He said the medications have no real “serious” side effects except nausea, and that there’s also the option of a surgical procedure called ovarian drilling. This is a laparoscopic procedure in which holes are burned in each ovary with a laser, which destroys part of the ovary and could trigger ovulation.
Bookout asked if there was anything that could help with the pain of cysts rupturing, to which Brody said it’s “manageable.”
“It’s not curable but with the right therapy, the right medication, the right diet, if we treat the underlying cause, it’s very manageable,” he said.
Back at home, Bookout said she felt just as frustrated as before, if not more. A producer named Jeni said she also has PCOS, and what frustrated her was the doctor starting the appointment by saying it was a “manageable disease.” Bookout agreed, explaining that there were downsides to all the treatment options he suggested.
“It is somewhat manageable with medicine, but it is lose-lose. There’s never a win with the medication. You’re trading a symptom for a side effect which sucks,” Bookout said. “Plus I’m not really into taking medicine every day and the surgery seems absurd. I don’t feel like that would ever really be an option.”
“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing,” she sighed.
Bookout has also opened up on the show about her fertility issues. Earlier this season, she and her husband, Taylor McKinney, revealed she had a miscarriage. Bookout has three kids, 9-year-old Bentley, 2-year-old Jayde and 1-year-old Maverick, and while McKinney expressed an interest in having more kids, Bookout said she would rather adopt a child but would be open to conceiving naturally. When the subject of her miscarriage came up, McKinney said he didn’t want to talk about it.
“I think it’s important for people that are watching that we talk about it,” Bookout responded.