My experience of polycystic ovary syndrome
PCOS can have different symptoms for different women.
Written by Rebecca Dempsey
Voices - Experiences
Young people share their personal experiences.
Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS as it is known is a condition that some women can be diagnosed with. There is no one reason as to why some women can have this and others can’t. It can be difficult to diagnose PCOS and some of the main symptoms are period problems, skin problems such as increased acne, fertility issues and sometimes excess hair growth. My experience of PCOS and how I explain it is that an imbalance of hormones is present on my ovaries.
This means that my body produces too much of the male hormone testosterone. Small cysts that usually develop in your ovaries can also be present, this means that you might not ovulate on a monthly basis and you might not get your period on a regular basis. I have always had irregular periods and I have had my fair experience of trying different contraceptive pills to manage this but I never thought to find out if there was a reason behind this.
After having to leave work from extreme period pain, I decided to pay a visit to a doctor to see if anything could be done for me. I thought that I would maybe be put on a new contraceptive pill to manage my periods, or that I would try a new contraceptive method and this would ease the monthly pain. I had a standard blood test done and I waited patiently for the results. At this stage my doctor advised that I should wait to restart my pill as if I had to have an ultra sound scan done it would be best for my body to be as close to its natural way. I received my blood test results and I was told that I had a higher but not alarming level of male hormone testosterone in my body, and although this hasn’t had a big impact on my health, it was the signal to my doctor that I needed to have an ultra sound scan done to determine if I had PCOS.
I don’t really mind hospitals or doctor visits but the idea of having an ultra sound scan done didn’t sit well with me. I spent two days searching and reading online about PCOS and what it all meant. The internet can be risky in situations like this, as information is so easily found and I should have just waited to talk to my doctor. I started to freak out. I found that no one person’s diagnoses are the same. Invisible symptoms can be present too such as insulin problems and weight gain can be a symptom too, particularly for women in their 20s. At this stage, I was really worried and stressed out so I decided to step away from the computer and this was the best decision that I made.
I attended my appointment and although I found it a little bit strange, it was fine and over in no time. I always thought that the first time and only time I would have an ultra sound scan done would be for when I would be pregnant. It was a strange situation to be in but there was no reason for me to freak out or to worry. My one piece of advice for anyone having this scan done would be to drink a lot of water before hand. The more water you drink, the easier it is to see your organs and the less uncomfortable it will be. I asked a lot of questions and the radiologist department and staff were very helpful on the day.
My results determined that I have multiple small cysts on my ovaries and although they are present, I don’t have to worry about them too much right now. PCOS can lead to infertility in women so it is something that I will need to watch as I get older, especially if I plan to have children. I’m now on a new contraceptive pill and it seems to be helping. It’s important to exercise if you have PCOS and I am fortunate that a few months ago I started to address my fitness and mental health. I am about 5’3 in height and with having PCOS I will need to keep a close eye on my weight in the future. I’m not a good cook and I often make excuses to not cook but I’m trying now to address my diet and making a bigger effort to lead a healthier life. I absolutely love chocolate so I make sure to still have chocolate digestives with my tea sometimes, and I am not sorry for that!
It is difficult to take that step to go visit your doctor and to ask those questions in relation to your period and your body. My friends will tell you that I am usually the one to shy away from conversations like this, but going to the doctor has really put my mind at ease and at least I know now why I have had irregular periods. Every woman’s body is different but I believe it is important to listen and to try to understand yours. I should have gone to the doctor years ago about this but I never spoke up or thought it would be worthwhile spending that money on my health. How foolish was I?
Hopefully by sharing my experience and story of having PCOS it will encourage young women and men to go to their doctors for general checkups and ask any questions that you may have. No one else is going to ask them for you! It is so important to look after your body and I will definitely be visiting my doctor on a yearly basis from now on.