Hi everyone, this post today is a little different from my usual posts about beauty and life at university as I will be discussing something which effects so many of us: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – or PCOS for short. It sounds very scary and clinical but it honestly isn’t that daunting.
Now you may be asking yourself: why is she writing about something so personal? or why should I read a post like this? Well, you may be shocked to know that it is thought to affect at least one in five women in the UK – so the chances are that at least one member of your family or friends have it. So I think it is important to spread the word about PCOS so that people are aware of the symptoms; and also to break the taboo revolving around female illness and their bodies. The following image sums up how I would like this subject to be approached and how open I try to be about my own body:
So with that long introduction aside: In this post I will be discussing my own personal experience with PCOS – my initial symptoms, why I felt the need to go to the doctors and the diagnosis experience. Due to the length of this topic I have chopped the post into two – so in my next post I will discuss my life with PCOS and how it has been effected since the day of diagnosis. Please remember that every experience is different and if you have any concerns after reading this, ask your GP. I am not a doctor and I know through my own mistakes to never self-diagnose.
My PCOS journey began at age 16: all my friends had long started having periods and I was feeling left out and a little worried about why I was so late. I was very athletic – I danced for a minimum of 17 hours a week; 9 of which were on a Saturday and when my Mum was younger she was athletic and didn’t start her period until the age of 17 – so I chalked up my late start up to that.
One day we were doing stretching exercises before our ballet class [I was wearing the signature pale pink tights with a leotard in the box splits…. Nice and exposed. *winces at the traumatic memory* when all of a sudden I felt a warm sensation at my crotch, as though I was weeing myself. Having had many informative conversations with my friends I knew that the day had finally come. I excused myself from class and took a friend with me, and she coached me through the bathroom door the complicated procedure of attaching a sanitary towel to my pants.
After my first period, I waited with anticipation for my next…. I waited and waited and waited. Four months went by until it came again. I was embarrassed and didn’t tell anyone about this and told myself that my periods must just be irregular. I was noticing quite a bit of weight gain and skin breakouts – not helped by the fact that I was no longer dancing thanks to Sixth form and my new part time job – so once again, I chalked my weight gain and bad skin up to a lack of exercise.
My gaps between periods were becoming larger and larger each time – at one point I went half a year without one. When I was due I was having excruciating pain, but no blood. There were times when I would make the hour journey to sixth form, to have to turn back in agony. On one of these occasions my mum sternly told me that I need to book an emergency doctors appointment because something was clearly wrong for me to be in so much pain and so lethargic at the end of the day, at this point I was 18. So I dragged my sorry self to the doctors surgery, my stomach knotted with cramps, sweat covering my entire body. The doctor poked my tender abdomen [OUCH] and diagnosed me with indigestion and prescribed me with Gaviscon… GREAAAT.
I was too timid to say anything so I took the gaviscon and shuffled home. My mum, for obvious reasons, wasn’t content with that diagnosis and booked me an appointment with a female doctor who came recommended for issues like mine. I obviously didn’t hold out much hope, having been pretty much dismissed as a hypochondriac but I went anyway, and was told that from the sounds of my symptoms: weight gain, very painful and irregular periods and excess hair growth, she thought I had polycystic ovary syndrome and booked an ultrasound for me at the hospital.
At this point I was TERRIFIED. I’ve always been very healthy and have never been diagnosed with anything so permanent in all my life. The ultrasound experience was interesting. Apparently my bladder wasn’t full enough so I had to have an internal examination [at this point I once again hadn’t had a period in several months], and during the process I felt a bursting sensation and I came on my period, covering her “wand” as she called it in blood.
The consultant was really understanding and let me go ahead and clean up. When I returned she informed me that the wand and actually burst one of the cysts on my left ovary which she managed to measure before it happened – and it was the size of a golf ball! EEK! No wonder I was in so much pain! So I finally had my answer: I had polycystic ovary syndrome and my left ovary is the issue. Following my ultrasound I had to have a blood test to be 100% sure before they prescribed me with medication.
In my next post I will be discussing the medication which I am on, the lifestyle I lead and how I try to deal with the symptoms of PCOS.
If you would like to know more facts about PCOS please follow this link for official information from the NHS.
Thank you so much for reading this everyone – I hope you have a giggle at my cringy period experiences and find this post informative! Please spread the word so that others can find the medical help they need!
Do you suffer from PCOS? Do you know anyone who does? Have you found any tips to deal with the symptoms? Let me know in the comments!
Thank you so much for reading. Don’t forget to follow me on my other social media accounts. Links are posted in the sidebar. And stay tuned for my next post on PCOS.