I thought long and hard about whether to write about this at all. This syndrome does not define me. It does not keep me from my life or my dreams (except for one dream). Not for a second should anyone put pity on me or think my life revolves around this monster (there are worse diseases out there). This annoying cluster of symptoms is something I deal with everyday under the surface while I go about my business. Writing about it and talking about it is something that I don't do very often and it does not come easily for me. I keep somewhat quiet about it mostly because those that I have explained it to do not understand. I have even received the comment, "I think this kind of stuff people bring on themselves." Yep, someone close to me said that. Really? At 16-17 years old I asked for this and brought it on myself? Wow. Despite some ignorant people, I decided to write about this because I belong to a couple of PCOS groups with some amazing 'cysters' who are all raising awareness about it this month in their own ways. For me, what better place than on my blog?
What is PCOS? It is the most common endocrine system disorder in females. It is diagnosed by use of blood tests, ultrasounds, and symptom analysis and often characterized by multiple follicles (cysts) on the ovaries in what is often referred to as a 'string of pearls' pattern. Not every single woman will have the cysts but may also have numerous other symptoms of PCOS including:
- Weight gain
- Sleep apnea
- High Cholesterol
- Dark patches of skin
- Excess hair growth
- Increase in stress levels
- Thinning hair
- Insulin Resistance
- Pelvic Pain
- Many many more.....
* most information above is from the PCOS Foundation
In the long run women with PCOS are at a high risk for diabetes, infertility, apnea, liver disease, heart attacks, miscarriages, high blood pressure, obesity, and endometrial cancer (among other cancers).
That is PCOS in a nutshell. Really, it is very complex and so many women go un-diagnosed because many doctors just simply tell them to lose weight and they will be fine. PCOS often causes weight gain and despite weight loss, PCOS cannot be cured, only controlled.
I was diagnosed at age 24 after a trip to the Emergency Room for a cyst that burst, although I know I had symptoms from the time I was about 15 or 16. It then took us three years to have our daughter and now....7 years trying for second baby with no luck. PCOS sucks. However, I have seen the bad cases and can say my PCOS is mild to moderate. Thankfully, I do not have every symptom.
What do I want everyone to know? Do not judge women you see everyday. Do not assume heavier women sit around all day eating crap. Many do not. So many of my 'cysters' (me included) try so hard to eat right and exercise. We take supplements and/or meds everyday to control our symptoms. Our struggle is a constant uphill battle that most people have absolutely no clue we are fighting. We are not lazy...no....quite the opposite.
If you are able to get pregnant with no problem and have more than one child-- be grateful and thank god. Never keep asking a couple when they are going to have kids. Please, never ask a women when she is due without knowing for sure if she is pregnant. Just realize everyone has a struggle you do not know about so be kind.
This September I support all my 'cysters' in the fight and raising awareness. We will not give up. We will give it our all and live our best lives. I am proud of myself. Most people do not realize what I have been through in my life and how much I have fought up to this point (not just with PCOS).
I could write so much more about the struggle, the symptoms, the treatments, etc., but writing this much was tough enough.
To my 'cysters': Fight like a girl!