Women’s health is still under constant study as it was not a subject to even be looked at until the mid 1900's. My grandmother was treated for “Hysteria” in her 20's, for those who are unfamiliar with “Hysteria” it is the medical treatment of women who are hysterical. Typically women, who were unable to become aroused, unable to have children, nagged their husbands, and so forth were treated for “Hysteria.” The treatment was simple; women were fondled and sexually relieved of this disease. Today, women are being studied more closely as the female body is as unknown as the human brain. But this article isn’t about the female body and treatments that are being researched, it’s about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis (ENDO); two diseases that are attacking 1 in 10 women everyday. Two diseases that get overlooked and often go untreated. These diseases can lead to Ovarian Cancer if left untreated and undiagnosed. This article is to help inform and raise awareness for the women who suffer on a daily basis and feel that they will never receive answers.
As it is the month of September it is only right that these two diseases are talked about, as it is also awareness month for PCOS (Endometriosis awareness month is in March). I suffer from PCOS and many women go untreated and undiagnosed because it is so understudied that it is sickening. PCOS is not just cysts that occur on or around the ovaries and reproductive organs it is a hormone imbalance. The first warning signs are: facial hair, acne, irregular menstrual cycles, mood swings, and weight gain. When I was diagnosed with PCOS seven years ago, it was because not only were my cycles irregular but I gained 100 pounds overnight! I was wearing a size 11 jean when I went to bed and woke up the next morning unable to even put on my big sweat pants. Then the unwanted facial hair started, the acne was starting to get out of control, cysts started forming and rupturing, and then… infertility. I was married for five of those seven years and we constantly tried to get pregnant. When I did finally get pregnant for the first time in our marriage I didn’t know until I miscarried part of the pregnancy. I had a rare pregnancy of twins, one child growing in my uterus and the other in my fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy). Due to this rare occurrence we found out too late to save either child and I had to medically terminate the remaining part of my pregnancy on my 23rd birthday. Medication after medication and treatment after treatment we could not get pregnant because I could not ovulate on my own. I finally gave up, my marriage collapsed, and my life seemed to crash around me. All because of this stupid incurable disease!
That story was the ugly part of my life. There is always good in the bad though (light at the end of the tunnel). After my marriage collapsed I fell pregnant with a very good friend of mine and had a full, healthy, beautiful pregnancy. The entire pregnancy with my son, whom I will refer to as "C", seemed unreal. I couldn't bring myself to accept that this was really happening. It wasn't until they laid him on my chest after pushing him out that I realized, you should never give up. More good in the bad I fell pregnant a second time, currently with baby boy "S", with my now fiance. But amongst all my joy there is still more darkness. This disease, PCOS, affects 1 in 10 women that we know of. So many cases go undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or even unreported. In my small group of friends (four females) two of us have PCOS and one, Jazmine, has both PCOS and Endo.
A friend of mine, Jazmine, has been through an even worse journey than mine. Jazmine suffers not only from PCOS but also from Endo. Endo is rarely discovered until it is too late. The profuse amount of tissue build up can not only mash all the organs together but it can kill the surrounding organs and tissues. For a clearer idea, Endo is PCOS but morphed into a monster, it takes the tissue that is supposed to line the uterus alone and it grows outside of the uterus. This disease causes a woman’s reproductive organs and surrounding organs to become a joined ball of mush.
Jazmine has had nine surgeries in the last four years and the most recent surgery was to remove as much of that uterine tissue as possible. In the process she also lost an ovary because it had been so consumed it died. I will do my best to share some of her story and journey because others should be aware this is happening constantly to women. She was married for three years and during that time she too tried to get pregnant. Jazmine had to orally take medications, seek fertility specialists, and inject herself with medications all to the heartbreak of miscarriage after miscarriage. She too never was able to ovulate on her own and suffered the obnoxious irregular cycles. As an Endo fighter, Jazmine suffered all PCOS symptoms plus constant and agonizing pain from the Endometriosis. With her reproductive organs back in place and the dead ovary removed she has begun to ovulate on her own, and with her new partner they are trying to start a family since her window of opportunity is small (six months). Before she had the chance to meet with this specialist, who did her most recent surgery, doctors were urging a full hysterectomy. So her light at the end of the tunnel has been renewed simply because a specialist (who's focus of study is PCOS and Endometriosis) took her on as a patient and listened to her.
There are one in 10 women suffering in the world today that know they have PCOS or Endo, and so many more out there that are still trying to understand what is wrong with their bodies. Don’t give up ladies! Talk about it, spread awareness, and seek help! If you show any signs or symptoms talk to your doctor, express your concerns. If you feel your doctor isn't listening, seek a second opinion! This is your body don't be afraid to stand up for yourself! You can do this! There is no need to feel defeated! If you or a friend suffer from any of these symptoms talk to your doctor and seek help.