Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: it's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. It's the answer to all your symptoms that oddly poses questions upon questions: What is it? Why do I have it? What can be done? What do you mean you don't know?
I can't help but be miffed at just how little is known about something that affects 5-10% of the female population. Along with the theories suggesting we'd all have a week's holiday once a month if men had to endure periods, I can't help but wonder how much more would be known about PCOS if it affected males. And no, I'm not some psycho feminist - this moustache is purely coincidental.
I'm no expert, and none of what I write should be taken as medical advice, because I'm still experiencing and learning myself. I want to add my experience and perspective to the volume of information available on PCOS, because unless you're trying to conceive, there really isn't all that much out there. Because quite frankly, some of us are not seeking the best post coital head-stand angle for maximum baby making probabilities. We just want to know why our arms are hairier than they should be and why Proactiv doesn't do a darn thing to help our cystic acne.
Here we go, ladies (and supportive gentlemen who find themselves here).
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome sucks. As a 'hormone disorder', it wreaks havoc with your hormones (duh), which has all kinds of repercussions. Interestingly, you do not need to have all of the following symptoms to suffer from PCOS. It's like a pick and mix, women are conveniently categorised under the PCOS umbrella. Some women have four or five of the symptoms and qualify, which is why there is such adversity in PCOS sufferers: I'm chubby, pimply and hairy, yet a fellow 'cyster' may be thin, clear-skinned and without the need to shave her legs every second day.
- Difficulty managing weight: Weight piles on easily and is difficult to budge once on. Many women experience weight gain in typical 'male' areas of the body such as their stomach.
- Acne: Deep and painful cystic acne that rarely comes to head on your face (chin in particular), chest and back.
- Difficulty conceiving.
- Hirsutism and male pattern baldness: Literally excessive hair. Hair may grow thicker and coarser on your legs, arms, stomach, back, chest and face. Some women experience thinning of their head hair.
- Infrequent and painful Menses: Lack of regular, and even the absence of periods. When periods occur, they may be excruciating and heavy.
- Insulin Resistance: Hormones play a vital role in your body's insulin production. When things are out of whack, you may be at higher risk of developing diabetes.
- Depression, anxiety and mood swings: Imagine having PMS 90% of the time. That's the effect of hormone fluctuations that occur frequently in women with PCOS.
Again, I stress that I am not offering medical advice. It is important you seek professional's opinion before self-diagnosis.