Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Symptoms Impact All Women Differently
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

PCOS Looks SO Different For All Women, Take It From Us — Total Opposites With The Same Disease

This reproductive disease is not one-size-fits-all.

PCOS Looks SO Different For All Women, Take It From Us — Total Opposites With The Same Disease

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a reproductive autoimmune disease that impacts approximately 1 in 10 women. Each woman diagnosed with PCOS deals with imbalanced hormones, frustrating doctors' appointments, and a lot of trial and error treatments. That being said, every PCOS experience is shockingly different, even though certain similarities remain.

How were you diagnosed? 

Liv — Going into my senior year of high school, I lost my period for like a month and a half and then gained 29 pounds over the course of the next couple of months. My body completely transformed within a single summer and it was extremely hard on my mental health.

After getting a lot — A LOT — of bloodwork and testing done and seeing doctor after doctor, my gynecologist was the one who finally said, "Hey, your testosterone is off the charts and you have ovarian cysts, this is PCOS." And the rest is history.

Lil — I had lost my period for almost a full year. But that's not why I went to the doctor — I actually went into the women's clinic for an annual physical and to discuss the depression and anxiety that was overwhelming my life. When they asked me "when was your last period," (like they do in all women's check-ups), that's when they began asking more questions. Once I (and a test) convinced them that I was not pregnant, I immediately went through a lot of bloodwork and multiple ultrasounds, with the final result being "you have PCOS."

What are your physical side effects? 

Liv — As I said, it started off with the weight gain and the loss of periods which is what helped determine my diagnosis. After about seven years with PCOS, I now experience a hard time losing weight, monthly cyst ruptures, water retention and swelling, and hormonal acne.

Lil — My only visible physical side effect was and is the loss of my period. This is something I still struggle with — while some women with PCOS have periods that last too long, my period needs major convincing for it to show up. This is an issue in hormone balance, but could cause problems in the future when it comes to fertility.

I also have cyst ruptures at least once a month and while you can't see them, trust me when I say they're lethal.

What are your mental side effects? 

Liv — I experience a lot of anxiety for the most part. After I was diagnosed and had gained weight, I had developed an eating disorder which was very difficult for me mentally and physically, but eventually was able to get it under control.

Not being able to lose weight when you are trying to is also a mental struggle because when you work so hard and you can't see yourself physically or mentally start to change or improve, it's terribly defeating.

Lil — My PCOS shows itself the most within mental health struggles. As balanced hormones are so crucial to keeping your mental health stable, it's not uncommon for me to be down, up, angry, or confused as to why my body is doing what it's doing.

What is your biggest side effect? 

Liv —The biggest and hardest side effect for me right now is the fluid retention and edema I experience on a daily basis. I got engaged in May and at the start of the day, my engagement ring fits like a glove, and by the end, my hands are so swollen it hurts to make a fist.

Lil — Mental health swings are by far my biggest side effect.

What's the main thing you discuss with your doctor? 

Liv — My swelling and inflammation have really increased over the past few months and I'm actually going to the doctor soon to talk about possible solutions for that. More regularly, I tend to discuss my cyst ruptures and irregular periods.

Lil — My doctor's main concern is that my period continues coming back. You wanna know how many TMI moments that woman and I have had? The list is long.

Each time I'm at the doctor, fertility comes up. Especially since my body has a hard time having a period (much less a regular one), there are many concerns my doctor has about infertility down the road. The chances of me conceiving are not great, but the chances of a healthy pregnancy are even lower. This is not uncommon for women with PCOS — reproductive diseases cause a lot of heartbreak in infertility, miscarriages, and complications within pregnancy.

Even if you do not want to have children biologically, your doctor will discuss this with you. It's their job to make sure you have all the information you need for your options later. It was so weird talking about having babies as a single, newly diagnosed 22-year-old, but all of my doctors have been incredibly kind and informative in these conversations.

How do you treat your PCOS? 

Liv — I take metformin and spironolactone medications. The metformin is known to be a medication to treat type two diabetes, but it was prescribed for me to help with my insulin resistance with PCOS. The spironolactone helps control acne, fluid retention, etc. (another reason I am seeing a doctor for my swelling since this medication should be helping it.)

Additionally, I try to walk daily, to help keep my cortisol (stress hormone) under control, and avoid dairy.

While a lot of women treat their PCOS with a birth control pill, this was not an option for me because of a blood disorder I have that doesn't allow me to have excess estrogen that will lead to blood clots.

Lil — When I was first diagnosed with PCOS, getting a period was priority number one. My doctor gave me a steroid pill with my birth control prescription to "kickstart" a cycle — it didn't work. She then increased the steroid dosage for the next week — it didn't work. Finally, the third time she increased the steroid I got a very short, very light period. It wasn't what she was hoping for, but it was enough to stop pumping my body with steroids (something neither she nor I was thrilled about). Now, I take a specific birth control pill with extra estrogen to continue forcing my body to have a period.

I do my best to live a balanced life — while some women with PCOS cut gluten or dairy from their diet, my doctor and I have discussed it and not found it necessary within bloodwork or testing. This being said, I do notice what I put into my body. I eat a lot of fresh produce and tend to eat vegetarian about 80 percent of the time. This, with a regular exercise routine, helps me contribute balance to my overall health.

What's the thing you worry the most about? 

Liv — Even though I am not anywhere close to here yet, I worry that I won't be able to have kids or will have to go through a lot of fertility treatments in order to conceive. I definitely want to have children someday and as that inches closer to my life, it is on my mind more often.

Lil — My main worry is increased risk for future issues. PCOS patients are at a greater risk for endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer and that worries me.

What has PCOS taught you? 

Liv — How much time do you have? I mean, after battling with PCOS for so long, I finally realized it was just a part of who I am and instead of fighting it off, I just have to treat my body differently to feel its best which is A-OK.

Is it annoying at times? Sure, of course, but I can be annoying too so it evens out.

Lil — That we desperately need more education about reproductive health, both in high school health classes and within federally funded research groups. The fact that PCOS is "a trial and error disease" just causes heartbreak and wears on a woman's body. I didn't even know what PCOS was until a doctor told me I had it — that should not be a common reality.

Report this Content

Where To Find The Best Coffee Drinks In America, According To A Survey

Here's the coffee shop where you should get your morning brew.


Coffee, for billions of people, is one of the only things that can get us out of bed (after hitting snooze a time or two), especially in 2020. Because, if we're being honest, is there anything that beats a quality cup of coffee on those mornings when all we wanted to do is roll over and go back to sleep? The answer is no. And if you're headed to a coffee shop to pick up your caffeinated beverage, you don't want to sleep on the best coffee drinks in America.

According to LiveShopper Sassie's Coffee Project survey, when it comes to chain coffee shops, there are definitely preferred spots you'll want to hit up for your go-to order — whether you order the classic, frozen, or flavored coffee, an espresso, tea, or other. To figure out the hot spots, 1,000 coffee drinkers across the United States took to LiveShopper's mobile app, PrestoShopper, to answer various questions about their coffee drinking habits and preferences. In return, these survey respondents got money back for their coffee — something any user who downloads the app can do as well (yes, even you).

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

Odyssey Template: 25 Questions For My State's Elected Officials

"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We fought for these ideals, we shouldn't settle for less."


Whether you're interested in how democracy works, how stop signs get installed, or anything in between, this is your opportunity to ask questions. This is your opportunity to show current and future members of your community what, in your opinion, is most important as your town, city, and state are trying to put the best, most effective practices forward.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Survey: Which Issues Are The Most Important To You In The 2020 Election

If you're a first-time voter or voting by mail for the first time, we want to hear your story.


The general election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, will decide not only the next president of the United States but also which political party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate. Young and first-time voters will play a crucial part in determining the result.

Keep Reading... Show less

Articles To Write If You're All About Saving More Money, And Waking Up A Little Bit Earlier

Get your day started right — and keep that budget tight.


For all the young professionals, parents, and students out there who've been working, learning, or even teaching remote — 2020 has likely been the longest year of your life. If you didn't know (sorry), we've been locked down for over 200 days now, and chances are, you are ready for it to be OVER.

Keep Reading... Show less

Who is ready to fa-la-lall in love with holiday-themed sex toys that will make you jingle all the way? If you're biting your lip and your legs are quivering with excitement, hold on to Santa's sleigh reins because there are so many ways to celebrate the season.

Festive sex toys are here to bring you some holiday cheer. From candy cane flavored everything to bright red bows, there is fun for everyone. Feel free to treat yourself or add these 15 festive sex toys to your wish list.

Keep Reading... Show less

How Much Of A Coffee Snob You Are, Based On Where You Live

Your state may determine how picky you are about your coffee.


When it comes to coffee, everyone has different criteria for what goes into their "perfect cup." Some caffeine lovers, though, are extra particular when it comes to their beloved beverage. One survey found that the state you're from (or the one you live in now) may play a part in determining how much of a coffee snob you actually are.

LiveShopper Sassie, the company behind this Coffee Project survey, received input from 1,000 coffee drinkers via their mobile app, PrestoShopper, to ask various questions about their coffee drinking habits and preferences. In return, these survey respondents got money back for their coffee — something any user who downloads the app can do as well (yes, even you).

Keep Reading... Show less

7 Reasons 'Hubie Halloween' Is A Must-Watch Halloween Film For October Movie Nights

Just knowing it's an Adam Sandler movie, you can assume it's funny but very ridiculous.


"Hubie Halloween" was just released on October 7. It follows Hubie Dubois in Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween. He patrols the town to make sure people are safe. He's the kindest and caring person in the town and also the most bullied.

This poor man is scared of everything. He screams when he sees scary decorations and when people prank him. Definitely a laugh, but when I watched it, I felt bad for him. The one person that pulled at my heartstrings is Violet Valentine, a woman he had a crush on since high school. She's super nice to him and stands up for him when she can. It was great seeing someone, other than his grandma, on Hubie's side.

Keep Reading... Show less

While this is my first ever presidential election, I have voted before in others, including at least one other "off" year election. I can honestly say that one of the things that made voting for the first time interesting was that I personally don't really identify myself with either party completely.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

7 Ways You Can Volunteer Virtually In The Middle Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

Use that anxious energy from dreading the rest of 2020, and put it towards volunteering


Life has shifted from face-to-face to face-to-screen-to-face this past year. There's no need, though, to wait out the pandemic to make a difference from home. Rather than spending the unexpected free time the rest of this year dreading each day, use that same energy towards volunteering from the comfort of your bed or couch or patio.

Here are seven ways you can volunteer safely and virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keep Reading... Show less

5 Hilarious Netflix Specials To Binge If You Need A Laugh In 2020

Netflix specials are single-handedly keeping my spirits high.


I cannot tell you the number of times that I have re-watched these comedy specials over the course of the last seven months.

What I can tell you is how absolutely great these comedians are. They bring me joy when I am sad, bored, or wanting to tune into something while I work on school or my virtual job.

Keep Reading... Show less

"Emily in Paris" is one of the newest Netflix original series and it began streaming on the platform on October 2.

I knew this was going right to the top of my watch list because I have a serious girl crush on Lily Collins, it's from the creator of "Sex and the City", and the plot feeds directly into my "Mamma Mia" fantasy of just hopping on a plane and killing it in a whole new country. Not going to lie, the series has its slightly cringe-y moments, but that honestly makes me love it even more.

Keep Reading... Show less

10 Songs We All Need To Add To Our Fall Roadtrip Playlist

This songs are guaranteed to make you feel like the main character this fall.

Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

One of the best feelings is driving with the windows down. Listening to the right song makes that experience even better. If you want to feel like the main character in your own teen movie, listen to these feel-good classic songs right away.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments