You can’t put health in a box. You can’t put a calorie count on it, or a specific work out, or quantify hours at the gym. You can’t find it on a scale because at the end of the day, what is healthy is individualized. It’s what makes you feel best. It’s whatever size you are, it’s what makes your body and spirit and mind happy. What is healthy is being yourself and giving your body its proper respect.
PCOS: The hormonal condition everyone needs to pay attention to.
Recently, while wasting time on WebMD, I decided to test the symptom checker. Instead of putting in a bunch of arbitrary symptoms, so I could be told I’m pregnant due to my uterus, hunger, and cramps, I decided to put in my real symptoms of a condition I actually have, and see if it gave me the right answer.
Now, I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). PCOS is important to know about, even if you don’t have ovaries, because chances are you might know someone with ovaries, and they could use this information. So men, read on!
I put in all the normal symptoms: irregularity in periods, weight gain, difficulty controlling weight, skin issues.
Turns out it was most likely that I had a skin disorder. Halfway down the list, I saw things like “lupus” and “methamphetamine use.” I didn’t see PCOS, despite WedMD having an entire directory for it.
PCOS is not one of the random conditions no one should care about unless it happens to them. It’s insanely common, it’s hormonal, and it can make you infertile. It’s associated with obesity (hi!), and let’s not pretend that’s not everywhere.
What it is: PCOS is a hormonal condition that causes an imbalance in testosterone, causing irregular periods, and certain “male” characteristics (odd hair growth, etc). With PCOS, sometimes the ovary doesn’t release the egg, and it becomes attached to the ovary and causes a cyst. I had about forty cysts when they finally diagnosed me.
- Weight around the waist is one of the telling signs. Since this is common, PCOS isn’t automatically assumed.
- Irregular periods are common in PCOS, since it messes with the hormonal balance. Don’t let a doctor tell you that it’s due to your weight. I had two doctors blame my weight before anyone even mentioned PCOS. At this point, I was just collecting more cysts and not being diagnosed. Don’t let that happen.
- PCOS is the most common cause of menstrual irregularities in women 15-45.
- Ultrasounds with full bladders can miss the diagnosis. If you suspect PCOS, go for a transvaginal ultrasound. (I’m not aware of any more recent methods.)
- You can have PCOS your whole life and not show severe symptoms for a long time. Some get them around puberty, others might not see them until after childbirth.
- PCOS increases your chances of getting diabetes, especially when untreated.
- It is the most common fertility problem in women.
- In January, a study showed that 1 in 10 reproductive women had PCOS. This number is probably even higher because PCOS is so often undiagnosed.
And yet, doctors do to young girls and even adult women what they did to me: they blame diet, they blame weight, and they don’t do procedures because they think they can dismiss it. One doctor accused me of lying about my diet.
If you suspect PCOS, ask your doctor! It’s manageable but you need to diagnose it first.
Stay healthy, ladies. xx Rynn