Polycystic/ Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Coming to terms with polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common condition that impacts the female reproductive system. It affects the way in which a woman’s ovaries work. The follicles on the ovaries are underdeveloped, which often means that they are unable to release an egg, affecting the whole reproductive cycle.

There are many ways in which you can identify whether or not you have this condition. The most common symptoms are:

  1. Irregular periods
  2. Excess androgen, which means there is a high level of male hormones in your body. This may result in physical symptoms, such as excess body hair or acne
  3. The enlarging of your ovaries as they develop fluid-filled follicles that surround the eggs
  4. Difficulty getting pregnant

I was diagnosed with this condition at the age of 17. I had always dealt with excess body hair, irregular periods, heavy periods, and excruciating period pain. However, it wasn’t until I started developing bad acne within the space of three months at the beginning of Sixth Form that I realised that I might have polycystic ovaries.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to go to the gynaecologist to get checked

Knowing that my sister had it, and that it is something that very often runs in family genetics, we all thought it made sense for me to go to the gynaecologist and get myself checked out. I cannot stress enough how important it is to go to the gynaecologist to get checked a few times a year. If I had never gone, I would have never found out that I had this condition. As soon as I was checked, they immediately diagnosed me and put me onto contraceptive pills.

I was put on to a special combined pill that helped regulate my hormones and reduce the follicles. I know there is speculation about the pill and the effect it can have on your body and mind, but I didn’t have much of a choice. The worst part about this process was finding the right pill for me.

The first pill I went on severely impacted my mood. It gave me serious mood swings and brought me down emotionally. I had a breakdown to my mum after being on it for three months and she quickly brought me back to the gynaecologist, who immediately changed my pill when he heard how I was feeling. I can’t explain enough how important it is that you communicate to your gynaecologist about how you’re feeling. A lot of the time your low moods will be hormone-related, and there might be something that can be done about it.

The pill has helped me in so many ways

I have been on the same pill since then and it’s been almost three years. I do still struggle with many things associated with polycystic ovaries even though I am on the pill. I still get painful and heavy periods, mood swings, feeling low from time to time, and I struggled with body changes after starting on the pill. Nonetheless, the pill has helped me in so many ways. I have clearer skin and my periods are less painful, less heavy, and more regular than they once were. Ultimately, I have a better understanding of my body.

My greatest struggle is facing the fact that I may not be able to conceive children in the future. This is something that is painful to hear as a woman, as it wounds a fundamental part of your nature –  your maternal self. This, however, is not always the case and there are many women with this condition who have been able to conceive children.

One in five women are affected by polycystic ovary syndrome

It is so incredibly important that you go to see your gynaecologist. Make sure to get intermittent check-ups at your gynaecologist as you may also have this condition.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is surprisingly common. One in five women are affected by it, with more than half of these women having no symptoms of showing it. It also increases the risk of developing health problems later on in life, such as Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol levels. It is best to be diagnosed as soon as possible. Even if you don’t suffer from polycystic ovaries, you could have another reproductive condition or disease. So make sure you go to the gynaecologist often and get routine check-ups to keep yourself healthy and aware, especially if you show symptoms of any kind or if you are sexually active.

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