Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Made Me Feel Like I Wasn't A Woman

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Made Me Feel Like I Wasn't A Woman

This is way more than JUST a syndrome.
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November of 2016 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Disease. But it has always been much more than just that.

PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that affects a woman's overall look, and mental and physical health. This is due to problems concerning a woman's ovaries. For instance, many women with PCOS have problems with the abundance of cysts on their ovaries, which results in the imbalance of hormones. But also, those with PCOS don't always have to have cysts present for the disease to be present. Most common symptoms include cysts, hirtuism, irregular and painful cramps (and not the normal, painful cramps), hair loss, anxiety and/or depression, insulin resistance, diabetes 2, and skin tags. But PCOS should not be limited to these symptoms, it is known as a syndrome for a reason.

Before I was diagnosed, I was realizing that I was coming to terms with the idea that something must be seriously wrong with me. I was no longer feeling like I was a woman. I was losing all of my hair at once, I was growing darker-colored arm hair, and I was growing facial hair. All of which I, almost a year and a half later, am still struggling with.

My anxiety skyrocketed. The self-esteem that I was holding onto was slowly disappearing and I was questioning everything I knew about womanhood. I stopped looking at myself in the mirror and feeling any confidence. I was scared those around me were going to start seeing me for who I was starting to see myself as. Come Spring, I was still wearing long sleeves because I was so embarrassed about my arms. I would cover my chin up just in case someone saw any unwanted hairs. I would, and still do, wear my hair in ways that cover up the fact that my hair has thinned so much.

Although the feeling of insecurity because of how much my looks have changed still creep up on me, I am not who I was when I walked out of the doctor's office back in November of 2016. The doctor told me one thing, "Do not google anything related to PCOS." I did the exact the opposite. In fact, my grocery shopping trips turned into what was maybe 45 minutes to 4 hours. I made sure everything I was eating and using would not harm me or enhance my PCOS in any way.

The following January I had done so much research about PCOS that I realized nothing I was finding was helpful. I joined, and am currently still a part of, two Facebook groups that allow women with PCOS to come together to share each other's celebrations and/or downfalls. One of the best things I did for myself was find a way to stay in contact with other women who are going through the same thing. The hirtuism, the hair loss, the hair growth, the idea of never having children, the insulin resistance, and the pain that comes with periods.

Not only did I do that, but I started with my diet. PCOS takes away so much of your self-control to the point you no longer know who you are. I knew that I had to gain some of my self-control back and I knew the only way I could do that was through exercise and my diet. It has almost been a year and a half and I am now a vegan. This is not my lecture on why anyone with PCOS should go vegan but here are some things that I no longer worry about.

My insulin levels are now at a point of no concern and my testosterone levels are closer to a normal female than before my diet change. I no longer have to sit in a bathtub at 3 a.m or skip out on events because of the pain of a period. I no longer deal with cramps or pain at all when my period comes, to be honest. I did end up shaving my arms, but the unwanted hairs on my face are not what they used to be. And last, my hair falling out, is no longer a concern of mine.

I would never take back having PCOS, no matter how damaging it is and can be. Because of this awful disease, I am more me than I have ever been. I no longer question my womanhood, it might be different than other women but I will always be a woman. The same reason why I used to put myself down has become the same reason why I build myself up. I focused on the two things that I could control and now I feel more in control than ever before, and I am happy with that.

I see that women all around the world battle with PCOS differently, and that is okay, but I hope my story inspires someone in the same ways that I have been inspired.

Cover Image Credit: Asdrubal Luna

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.

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Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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10 Ways To Take Care Of Your Heart

February is here and it's time to discuss its most important themes: black history and heart disease.

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February is both Black History Month and American Heart Month. Both are incredibly important, especially to me. It's so important for everyone, especially African Americans, to take care of their heart.

According to statistics, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, with one in four deaths being caused by heart disease. In the black community, the rates are much higher, causing 48% of women and 44% of men to die from heart disease. High blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes are all leading risk factors to heart disease.

These are some lifestyle changes you can make to lower your chances of suffering from heart disease.

1. Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!

2. Know your numbers.

Check in with your doctor to see about your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels. If something seems a little high or a little low, don't freak out! Just make sure to ask the questions in order to get them to normal. On the other hand, if something seems high or low, don't ignore it, address it!

3. Watch what you eat.

Talk is very cheap people! We (meaning I) must do better about actually changing our diet and not just talking about it.

4. Take your meds.

5. Lower your stress.

6. Quit smoking.

I mean really, why is this even still a thing?

7. Cut back on the salt.

Yes, that means less processed food and restaurants, I know.

8. Know your family history.

Ask your parents and grandparents what your family health history is like. You never know what could be genetically a threat to your life!

9. Find a primary doctor.

I am guilty when it comes to not wanting to go to the doctor. I am not a fan of any doctors, but that doesn't mean I don't need to do better. Find a primary doctor, but make sure it is somebody you like! The experience is always much better when you actually enjoy your visits.

10. Spread the word. 

Teach your family members, especially your kids, how to take care of themselves and lower their chances as well. A healthy family is a happy family!

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