I remember hearing the words like it was yesterday. ” We believe the issues you are having are a result of PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome.” Poly-what? As I sat in my OBGYN’s office, I remember being frustrated, but relieved. We finally had an answer of what was going wrong. Years of painful cycles, ghost cycles, month long episodes of bleeding, I would finally have an answer and a plan of action. I’d battled what I now know as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), since the age of 15. To commemorate Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Awareness Month, I’d like to share information about the disorder and how it affects millions of women daily. I share this as an overcomer. I was once told (by a medical professional) that I would never conceive a child. PCOS almost robbed me of the dream I didn’t even know I had. That dream is named Madison, she is 3.5 years old, has a head full of hair and watches the movie Sing religiously. PCOS, You don’t get to win.
What exactly is PCOS?
The Mayo Clinic defines PCOS as “A hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.” The symptoms of the disorder can vary from woman to woman, but researchers believe that a hormonal imbalance, and a resistance to insulin is a common link. It affects 1 in 10 women, and often times as many as 50% of menstruating women have the disorder yet it goes diagnosed.
How to know if you have PCOS?
If you experience two or more of the signs below, you may receive a diagnosis of PCOS.
Irregular periods. Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods and abnormally heavy periods.
Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormone may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
Polycystic ovaries. Your ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. As a result, the ovaries might fail to function regularly.
PCOS signs and symptoms are typically more severe if you’re obese.
Once you have a diagnosis, a plan of treatment should be crafted by you and your doctor. You may be paired with an Endocrinologist and a Dietitian to help make your treatment successful. In my case, I developed diabetes and saw both specialists to get my PCOS under control. Resources can be found here
PCOS doesn’t get to win. Know that you are not alone. This September, stand up for your sisters fighting this daily battle.