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.