PCOS Isn't An End All

Do other girls have this too?

As a fourteen year old girl, I could recall consistently dissecting if my dark, coarse hairy belly and chest was normal. Being a hypochondriac, I typed in the words “dark coarse hair belly” on Google and the word “PCOS” came up. I thought about it for a few seconds, then the thought of it disappeared. After all, hello, I’m a hypochondriac.

A few months ago, I remember working a long work shift and my lower back started to kill me. This immense pain felt as though someone ran my back over with a car. From there, the pain would come momentarily and it would meander down to my left leg. At first I thought that my lower back pain came from working long shifts. Within a few weeks, I had also gained over five pounds and experienced an acne breakout on my cheeks for the first time.

As a typical hypochondriac, I visited several doctors and received different diagnoses.

“You’ve just been standing too long.” “It’s your shoes.” “UTI?”

The final doctor insisted that I was pregnant and suggested that I should visit the OBGYN right away. Due to paranoia, I immediately made an appointment with the OBGYN. “No, I can’t be pregnant. I would be screwed”, I thought to myself. The last guy I was with broke it off with me and blocked me on all social media platforms. What would I do?

During my first visit to the OBGYN I had a transrectal ultrasound. I found that I wasn’t pregnant but that I had an ovarian cyst on my left ovary and my right ovary appeared to be fine. I thought the ovarian cyst was the main cause of my back pain and other problems. However, during the second visit to the OBGYN, I had a transvaginal pelvic ultrasound and a pelvic exam conducted and she found multiple cysts on my right ovary.

The doctor diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an imbalance of reproductive hormones. It’s estimated that PCOS affects about six percent of ovulating women. My doctor described that I had more than twelve, one centimeter cysts around the surface of my right ovary. Each cyst has a follicle or an egg that’s trying to develop so that it can be released from the ovary; it is trying to ovulate. However, the hormonal imbalance prevents this stage from occurring and I’m left with a bunch of cysts.

PCOS just explained many of my reoccurring symptoms over the years, namely my irregular menstrual cycle and abnormal hair growth or hirsutism (the cause of my chest and belly hair). Additionally, I learned that there’s a higher chance of getting PCOS if it runs in the family. I discovered that my mother has endometriosis, a condition where the tissue that lines the womb (endometrium) is found outside the womb, and my maternal aunt has PCOS.

No wonder why my aunt was growing a beard.

But I wanted kids! When I received my diagnosis I could hear my heart, along my dream with becoming a mother, shatter. However, my OBGYN assured me that it would be harder to get pregnant but it was still possible. She put me on birth control pills and I decided to slowly tweak my lifestyle. I changed my diet; I’m in the process of being vegetarian. I’m also trying to implement an hour’s worth of daily aerobic exercise even though I despise sports.

I’ve been on the pill for a month and it’s been helpful to me so far. However, I want to switch to a hormonal IUD as I’m worried about getting blood clots from my pill. My pain isn’t severe anymore; sometimes I have some pelvic discomfort but it’s not as severe that I’m in agonizing pain and I can’t get out of bed. I’m also more aware of my diet. I cut out dairy and refined sugars; it’s helped me prevent any painful flare-ups.

If you start feeling lower back pain or pelvic pain, please don’t doubt anything and go to a doctor as soon as possible. I’m thankful that I found out early. My other aunt found out that she had endometriosis too late and her ovaries, uterus and some of the surrounding tissue were removed in a life-­threatening emergency surgery. During your visit, your doctor will conduct various tests such as blood tests, urinalysis, and transvaginal ultrasound, and an early diagnosis can save your life. This condition cannot be cured, only managed through diet, exercise, and medicine; however, I encourage anyone questioning their health to reach out to their doctor immediately. I can have children, exercise, and live a normal life because I was proactive in getting a diagnosis for my symptoms, and I suggest doing the same for anyone questioning their health.