The Joys of PCOS - Part 1

I realised that, considering I started this blog primarily about PCOS, but haven't really blogged about it for a while.

So, I thought I'd share a bit about the Joys of PCOS* - the symptoms I suffer, and how they affect me. Not everybody with PCOS suffers the same symptoms, and I'm sure that every woman deals with their symptoms differently, so this really is all about me and how I deal with what I'm dealt with!

For my first Joys of PCOS post, I thought I'd explain (sort of!) what PCOS is.

This is the definition from Verity, the UK's leading PCOS charity:

Polycystic ovary syndrome is the name given to a condition in which women with polycystic ovaries also have one or more additional symptoms. It was first ‘discovered’ in 1935 by Doctors Stein and Leventhal, so for many years it was known as the Stein-Leventhal syndrome.

The term polycystic ovaries describes ovaries that contain many small cysts (about twice as many as in normal ovaries), usually no bigger than 8 millimetres each, located just below the surface of the ovaries. These cysts are egg-containing follicles that have not developed properly due to a number of hormonal abnormalities.

Polycystic ovaries (PCO) are very common, affecting around 20 per cent of women. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is also very common, affecting 5–10 per cent of women.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS):
  • affects millions of women in the UK and worldwide
  • runs in families
  • is one of the leading causes of fertility problems in women
  • if not properly managed, can lead to additional health problems in later life
  • can affect a woman’s appearance and self-esteem.
Although PCOS is treatable, it cannot be cured.

Symptoms can include:
  • irregular periods, or a complete lack of periods
  • irregular ovulation, or no ovulation at all
  • reduced fertility – difficulty becoming pregnant, recurrent miscarriage
  • unwanted facial or body hair (hirsutism)
  • oily skin, acne
  • thinning hair or hair loss from the scalp (alopecia)
  • weight problems – being overweight, rapid weight gain, difficulty losing weight
  • depression and mood changes.
Everytime I read the list of PCOS symptoms, I mentally put a tick by each of them. But the joys of PCOS isn't just about the symptoms either, as will become clear!

My periods started when I was 11, and were always pretty erratic. Initially, my mum and I put it down to my body getting used to all the hormones racing around. But then they got worse, and by 13 I was on the pill to try and control them. Eventually, when I stopped taking the pill due to migraines, everything went to pot! It was as if the pill had been suppressing all of the symptoms and they suddenly went wild!

After a little bit of internet research and a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with the doctors, I was eventually diagnosed with PCOS in 2001, when I was 17.

A very basic overview of my history with PCOS, but more will become clear as I discover The Joys of PCOS!

* I'm using joys in a totally ironic / sarcastic way. There's not much that's joyful about it, to be honest!

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