Living With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Living With Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

My diagnosis doesn't make me any less of a woman.
346
views

I remember being 17 years old when I first found out what in the world even is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

It was your typical mid-August morning. I was at the doctor's office for my annual check up, just a few weeks from starting my senior year, and I was of course excited. My mom and I also just switched doctors since the office I was previously seeing switched healthcare systems, so we were no longer covered with our insurance.

My doctor was learning about my family medical history. I had been fortunate to be a pretty healthy kid growing up with catching the occasional flu, having my tonsils and wisdom teeth taken out, and not breaking any major bones. I'm only allergic to latex and it isn't life threatening, so I've gotten through life pretty easily.

The only other major thing that happened in my life was when my mom got surgery my freshman year of high school. She had a cyst on her ovaries about the size of a tennis ball. I never thought much of it since then since she has had a clear bill of health and it wasn't malignant. It was just something that happened, and my mom stuck it out.

However, this was when I was introduced to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I have always had a little bit of extra weight, but I was a very active through my life. I swam for a good portion, did varsity track and field in high school, and always did some sort of workout whether it was at the gym or at home. I just figured it was my genes.

It was then we got into the conversations about what I've noticed about my body. I've always had that little mustache above my lip, but I've gotten that waxed since eighth grade since I thought it was something all women do like waxing their eyebrows. I noticed little hairs growing out of my chin and stomach. I've also had a very heavy period flow (I'm talking about double duty, ladies - pad and tampon action). Once again, I thought it was all a part of being a woman.

My doctor sat down with me and explained that these were common traits of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) yet there is not an exact test for it. I learned that I have extra testosterone in my body which is the causation for some of my weight, unwanted hair, oily skin, and abnormal menstruation. I even found out that my depression is partly due to my diagnosis as well.

I did end up getting a glucose test for it last May, but that was only a screening for prediabetes/diabetes - a symptom. The test is not even accurate enough to give a definite answer because there is a chance I could develop it later in life or not. There is no guarantee I will even get diabetes. There isn't even a cure for PCOS either. Only birth control is a real remedy, which kind of helps.

All I remember is crying because I found out it might be difficult for me to have children in the future. It might seem a bit melodramatic, but just imagine it. I am only 17 years old, starting to get my life figured out where I want to college and ready to seize every opportunity together.

Becoming a mother was the last thing on my mind, at the time, yet being told it might not be possible is another opportunity taken away from me. I started feeling like my body had failed me. I felt less of a woman.

Like every teenager in this generation, I began googling PCOS and watching YouTube videos of stories shared by others. Of course, there is still little information about the causation and a more effective treatment. Yet, a remedy for me was listening and reading the experiences of others who have this condition and live a pretty average life.

Knowing that 1 in 10 women are affected by PCOS symptoms made me feel normal, that I wasn't some medical mystery case that had no solution. I found comfort through support groups and vloggers who showed how normal their lives are with PCOS.

I am not just a number.

I am a real woman.

I have PCOS.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

Popular Right Now

PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

46786
views

It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

It's National Eosinophil Awareness Week And More People Should Be Talking About It

It's time to raise awareness about eosinophil-associated diseases and support those, including myself, who are affected.

359
views

For anyone who is unaware, May 19 to May 25 is considered National Eosinophil Awareness Week as recognized by the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (Apfed) since 2007. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness and help educate individuals on the various eosinophil-associated diseases. Despite its existence being virtually unknown to many people, this week has become very significant in my life and I think more people should be having conversations about it.

If you had asked me about eosinophil-associated diseases two years ago, I wouldn't have been able to say a single thing besides maybe defining an eosinophil the way I learned to in my AP Biology class senior year of high school. But as of a few months ago, it has officially been one year since I was diagnosed with an eosinophil-associated disease — something I never imagined would happen in my life. While I won't share too much of my own experience because it's honestly quite personal and still a little sensitive to discuss, it's safe to say that eosinophils completely changed my life.

I was fracturing bones like it was my job — I think I had upwards of nine stress fractures in my legs and feet in a year and a half time period. I had to stop playing sports my senior year of high school and couldn't run at all. I was nauseous 24/7. I was rapidly losing weight to the point where I had lost close to 35 pounds and none of my clothes fit me. I couldn't swallow anything, including water. Eating was painful. I had no appetite.

I was sick and in pain ALL the time to the point where I would get emotional or even cry.

I missed school days, tests, exams, social events, and eventually had to quit my job for an entire summer because even getting out of bed was hard for me. Ultimately, even the decision about the college that I chose to attend was partially based on my health and the doctors I would need to visit frequently.

But the most significant thing was that I was experiencing severe depression and anxiety and was honestly just straight-up scared. Think about it: I was experiencing a wide range of life-altering symptoms yet no one could figure out why and even when they did, there was no cure and only limited options for treatment. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many patients and their families. The process of diagnosing an eosinophil-associated disease can take years and require pretty much every medical test you can even think of because these diseases are all classified as rare diseases.

I was experiencing symptoms for a year and the journey to an accurate diagnosis took about a year after that. The journey itself was not easy, as it involved numerous doctors and countless medical tests to eliminate other potential diagnoses like cancers, parasites or even celiac. Since then, I have been involved with treatment for a little over a year. For me, treatment involved several medications and steps, including gaining the weight I had lost.

But the main piece was cutting pretty much everything out of my diet, meaning no gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, seafood, or nuts. Gradually over time this treatment involves reintroducing the foods individually (each for a three-month period) to see what can be tolerated or which foods make my eosinophils act abnormally and then restricting my diet accordingly.

Since starting treatment my life has been gradually changing in a positive manner, which is something I couldn't have imagined when I initially became ill. Yes, I will still be sick for the rest of my life and experience the chronic waxing and waning of this disease, but hopefully years of experience and knowledge will make me better equipped to handle it. One day there may even be a cure. But until then I will continue to raise awareness and participate in National Eosinophil Awareness Week in solidarity with the few who are also sharing in my experience living with an eosinophil-associated disease.

While I wrote this article with the intention of participating in Eosinophil Awareness Week by raising awareness and educating (to some extent), it was about more than that. I wanted to give you a synopsis of my story and the challenges I face to make this week more understandable and more real. This was because I know that eosinophil is not only challenging to say (even I struggle) but also challenging to conceptualize.

If you're interested in learning more or you're still confused, I recommend doing some quick reading on Apfed's website because they are extremely helpful in the way they simplify the complex information.

If you would like to see what you can do during National Eosinophil Awareness Week, you can also click here to visit Apfed's day-by-day guide for the week, which included some fact sheets, information about wearing magenta to support the cause, and other information about individual participation.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Related Content

Facebook Comments