“Damn, PCOS” I thought, when I was first diagnosed, “Wait, what on earth is PCOS?”
I really wished my doctor had explained it to me properly that day. Instead he chucked a few leaflets in my hands and told me I should consider losing weight and starting the contraceptive pill because it will help.
That afternoon I stood in the mirror picking and grabbing at my little folds and flabs in the mirror. Was I fat? I’ve never been skinny or slim, but I had never really considered the fact that I might be fat. Sixteen year old me couldn’t understand what my weight and oral contraceptive had to do with my lengthy erratic and painful periods.
And where does the average sixteen year old in the U.K. go seeking information? ‘What is PCOS’ was tapped into the Google search bar and instantly I was exposed to volumes of information. Not all information is A) accurate B) relevant C) good. I wish I had known this before reading through daunting forums of women who were sharing their experiences of bleeding non stop for a whole year or were unable to have children. This scared me. A LOT.
The reason I even ended up at the GP was because of my super long abnormal periods; so to think that it could possibly last a YEAR, nonstop? No, there was no way that was going to be. But what did the contraceptive pill have to do with stopping all this? I was so confused and felt so alone. Discussing my period or anything to do with my sexual organs and reproductivity was a no go zone with my mum. No way. So when she found me up at night crying in bed, I just told her I’ll never be able to give her grandkids then rolled over to sleep so she could leave my room.
Okay. So back to basics. Go on the NHS website and search PCOS. But I’ll quickly outline what it is because I know some of you are L A Z Y. I’ve got you.
PCOS= Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Which according to the NHS website, has three main characteristics. Irregular periods, an increased male hormone (androgen) and polycystic ovaries (enlarged ovaries filled with fluid-filled ‘sacs’).
Let me break each characteristic down quickly. They all contribute to different effects and symptoms of PCOS.
- Irregular periods could mean lengthy periods, heavy periods and no period at all.
- High levels of the “male hormone” androgen in your body contributes to excessive hair growth of body hair.
- Lastly, despite the name ‘polycystic’ ovaries, polycystic ovaries do not have cysts on them, just fluid filled follicles which surround the eggs- affecting fertility and also factor in to why periods may be irregular. The follicles are harmless, but they do mean that ovulation is unable to take place because these sacs are often unable to release eggs.
This blog post is getting extremely long and droning on, I’m boring myself. Therefore, I will write a part 2 explaining different forms of treatment that aid in regulating hormones and fertility treatments, creams etc. I will also include some other common side effects of PCOS such as depression, thrush, heavy periods, weight gain, insulin resistance etc.
It’s crazy because PCOS is super common, (est. 1 in 5) but I had never heard of it until I was diagnosed myself in 2013.
Stay tuned kids!
(Most of my information was taken from nhs.co.uk, I am not a doctor, do you OWN research!).