Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects 1 in 10 women.
Every woman who is diagnosed with PCOS has a different journey — some find out about their disease in their teen years, others find out when they experience issues with fertility, and others find out because of a "hey, I think something is wrong with my body" moment in their life.
With such a wide variety of experiences, every woman with PCOS goes through major ups and downs, most of which the outside world doesn't even know are happening. But just because PCOS is often unnoticed does not mean those women don't need you to educate yourselves on what they're experiencing. Their insides literally rupture, the least you can do is acknowledge what's going on.
1. I’m not just sick, I’m going through child-birth level pain
A cyst rupture is instant agonizing pain that can be compared to a contraction. I'm not sick, they aren't just bad cramps, it's horrible, debilitating pain. If someone broke a rib, would you roll your eyes at their sick day? Absolutely not. Give us the same kind of grace and sympathy as an injury you "understand" better.
2. I spend way too much time worrying about my period
Is it going to last all month? Will it be two weeks early? Will I just not have one and then have to have ANOTHER discussion with my doctor about how high my infertility rate is? Most women get to think about their cycle every 28 days and move on with their lives, but there isn't one day I don't wonder how my body will revolt against logic.
3. I want kids, but I worry I won't be able to have them
One of the unfortunate side effects of PCOS is that it can cause infertility. Because of the hormone imbalance, releasing eggs, or ovulation, can sometimes never happen, or infrequently happen.
If you don't ovulate, you can't get pregnant. This obviously isn't a day-to-day issue until you are at the point in your life when you want to have kids.
That doesn't mean people don't still ask EVERY adult woman how many children she wants to have — that innocent question isn't so fun when you debate either saying "I don't know" or launching into your monologue discussing all the extra factors you have to consider as far as having biological children is involved.
4. I’ve been told to “not talk about it because it’s unladylike” but it's something I deal with every day
Guess what? Cysts grow on my ovaries and burst, my hormone imbalance may cause excess hair growth, acne, and unprecedented weight gain. Get over it. I AM a lady, so this "lady" disorder qualifies it as LADYLIKE.
5. If I have a cyst rupture in public, I will make a scene because the pain is unbearable
As I mentioned before, this pain is awful. Sometimes so bad that some women blackout or see stars from the pain. Every doctor I've seen has compared this pain to childbirth, just without the cute kiddo at the end of the ordeal. Jealous yet?
6. My mental health can spiral at any given moment but it’s not because I’m emotional
Women with PCOS have screwed up hormones — that's the basis of the entire disease. This being said, when your hormones are screwed up, your mental health has the ability to spiral downward at a moment's notice. This may mean anger, sadness, or general "why me" moments. These mental health lows don't mean we're "just emotional girls," it means that our bodies are actually causing these reactions for us. Don't give us crap about our tears when you don't know how out of our control they actually are.
7. Tracking my period is useless because it just comes whenever it feels like it
Who needs a tracker app when you can just be surprised at random with your period while you're walking down the street?
8. My birth control is a necessity to keep my PCOS under control
My birth control doesn't even need to include my sex life — it directly impacts my health whether or not I'm having sex. Birth control is what women with PCOS use to attempt to stabilize their periods. It's not perfect, but it's what we've got, so don't you DARE try to take it away from us.
9. If I have a cyst on my ovary that hasn't ruptured, I WILL need surgery
Those lil' suckers have to come out one way or the other. Whether they burst on their own or are holding on for dear life and need to be surgically removed, they gotta go.
10. Cysts are pretty much bombs inside of you
A lot of times we can tell when we are growing a cyst and it's going to rupture a day or two before it happens. How? Because women are badass and are just THAT in tune with our bodies. It still hurts like hell though.
11. Even though I know it’s my hormones fault, my mood swings make me feel like a crazy person sometimes
When everyone else is fine and dandy but your insides are a game of Battleship, it can begin to make you feel a little insane. YES, there are very real reasons you feel this way. NO, it is not your fault.
12. There isn’t a cure for PCOS
We can be treated with medication, but there is no cure. That's a reality we have to live with and it's incredibly discouraging.
13. Sometimes when my hormones are out of wack, I am ravenously hungry
My cravings take over and my body is no longer my own when my hormones take over. Don't judge a woman who's eating nine cookies and drinking a Pepsi, you have NO idea what is actually happening.
14. I didn't gain weight because I stopped caring for myself, it's those damn hormones again
One of the biggest indicators for being diagnosed with PCOS is an unexplained excessive weight gain in a short amount of time.
Looking in the mirror and not understanding why you've been gaining weight is extremely mentally straining.
15. No matter how strong I look, it can really suck
PCOS can be a really lonely, invisible illness. It's exhausting discussing the intimate details of your health with someone, but it's also exhausting to have people not know what you're actually dealing with 24 hours a day. Women with PCOS are strong because they have to be. But that doesn't mean it doesn't really suck, too.