Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects a woman’s ovaries and how they work as its name suggests. No single cause of PCOS has yet been confirmed but the general consensus is that it’s due to elevated male hormones in women as a consequence of numerous environmental and genetic factors, including obesity. PCOS is a very personal syndrome, that intimately affects 1 in 10 women.
PCOS is something that I have personally struggled with, so I’m going to share some of the things that I feel people should know:
- IT IS MORE THAN JUST MY OVARIES!
PCOS impacts my ovaries- yes- hence the name. But PCOS is so much more than that, impacting on every area of my body and life.
I gain weight faster than you can open a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, I have body hair where it’s not wanted (what’s with the ‘tache, Mother Nature?), I have periods when I least expect/want them, I have awful mood swings (just ask anyone who knows me) and I have struggled with depression since I was 13. Sometimes getting out of bed to make a cup of coffee and get Netflix on is a huge achievement.
If you know someone with PCOS, just be kind.
- Fertility is tricky.
Now, fertility. This is a sensitive issue. While it is not impossible for me to fall pregnant, it is going to take so much longer than the average woman and will be a source of great emotional and financial strain. My older cousin suffers with PCOS and had to pay for ludicrously priced fertility treatments that almost destroyed her marriage after it failed four times. (***SPOILER ALERT***: they now have a healthy eight year old girl).
While children aren’t part of my life plan, that’s right now. That’s the present. But I found out at 16 that I will most likely never be able to have my own children and that was really difficult for me to hear. The one thing that those of you with PCOS should remember is this:
You did not choose to have PCOS. It is not your fault. It does not make you any less of a woman. It just means that your journey will be a little bumpier than everyone else’s.
If you know someone with PCOS, be sensitive.
- I am overweight but trust me it is not for lack of trying.
Here’s a joke for you:
Q: What’s the difference between standing on the scales when you’re carrying Christmas weight and standing on the scales after being on a diet and exercise regime?
A: PROBABLY NOTHING BECAUSE YOU HAVE PCOS!
You would probably look at me and think I’m lazy and that all I do is sit around and eat junk food. You would be wrong. While I don’t eat as healthy as I could or exercise as much as I should, I try. I have always tried. I care about the way that I look (us Merseyside birds have to – you can’t let them brows go to shit). Just because I am bigger than you does not mean that I don’t care and don’t try.
I can look at a chicken nugget and gain 5 pounds, then it’ll take me weeks to get that back off.
If you know someone with PCOS, cut them some slack.
DO I EVEN HAVE TO TELL YOU THE TERRORS OF THINKING ITS SAFE TO NOT WEAR PADS AFTER NOT HAVING A PERIOD FOR 7 MONTHS AND THEN SUDDENLY COMING ON YOUR PERIOD WHILE YOU’RE IN THE QUEUE IN THE PRIMARK IN LIVERPOOL ONE? DIDN’T THINK SO. LET’S MOVE ON.
- Sometimes you have to forgive me.
There are times when I will be super irrational and hormonal, but sometimes I just don’t have control over my moods. If you know me, you’ll know the sarcastic tone and the deadpan look. But you know that I’m sorry.
If you know someone with PCOS, be understanding.
- Don’t give up hope.
It can be hard, but never forget that PCOS does not define you. You are not ‘unwomanly’. It is not your fault. Just stay resilient and be the strong independent woman that you are.
To round this off, here is a photo of me in Stratford-upon-Avon with the unwomanly woman herself, Lady Macbeth (or a statue of her, at least).