Real Talk: Living with PCOS

Real Talk: Living with PCOS

I got my period for the first time when I was 11 years old. Good ol’ Aunt Flo came to visit every month on the dot until I turned 14. At that point, my cycle suddenly became irregular. Some months, I would bleed for nearly two weeks, while other months, I wouldn’t even get my period. At 14, it wasn’t totally troublesome to miss a period (I knew there was no chance I could be pregnant), but my mom became increasingly concerned and she eventually brought it up to my primary care doctor.

My doctor asked me a few questions about my flow. She noticed that I had some excess hair growth on my face (which I have always been extremely self-conscious about). Her observation, combined with my cycle’s irregularity and my physique, contributed to the diagnosis. I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS for short.

Obviously, I had no idea what this meant. Her brief explanation was that my ovaries had cysts all over them, and that was contributing to the irregular periods and excess hair growth. She told me women with PCOS make more androgen (the male sex hormone) than the average woman.

I also found out about the increased health risks associated with PCOS, such as diabetes and heart disease. My doctor said that women may be at higher risk of these diseases if they do not learn to control their PCOS.

She then prescribed me birth control with the intention of regulating my flow and normalize my hormone levels. I was also prescribed a second medication to help decrease the excess hair growth. This is very welcome because, as we all know, girls at 15 are vicious and my weight and extra hair gave them fuel for bullying me.

But clearly I survived high school and since I was diagnosed about six years ago, living with PCOS has been manageable. There are times that I am just completely exhausted and worn down, which may or may not just be due to the stress of college, but other than that, it’s easy to forget that I even have it. I never experience any sort of pains in my stomach, associated with the cysts, and getting my period only once every three months because of my birth control is something I can’t complain about!

What I sometimes think about is the fact that I may not be able to get pregnant. Women with PCOS have an increased risk of infertility. At 21, it’s not something I am consumed by, but that knowledge is there in the back of my mind. Luckily, by the time I decide I want to have kids, technology will be even more advanced, so as of now, I just try not to worry about it!

PCOS has become a part of my everyday routine. I make sure I take my pills on time and I get yearly checkups to ensure that everything is still going okay. Other than that, I feel like I live a completely normal life (with less periods)!

-Caitlin, 21

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