Do you remember that scene from Mean Girls, where Regina George gets run over by a bus? That is exactly how Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) came into my life – but lets back up a little, i’ll start from the beginning.
When I first ever questioned the irregularity of my menstrual cycle, I was 18-years-old in 2010. Aunt flow had not come through for a few months and I did not understand why. I don’t remember much of the details of the consultation session, but I remember feeling unheard and not taken seriously. Due to the fact that I was “young,” the doctor had explained to my parents that my irregular periods were normal and said that, “in future, when you want children you can always purchase hormones.” As if purchasing hormones was as easy as popping down to the store to buy a pack of sweets. My mother had accepted what the doctor had to say as she mentioned that she too had inconsistent periods as a teenager. Unfortunately, at the time I was not strong or independent enough to fully think or speak for myself and because I was in a room of adults whom I trusted, I pushed my anxieties aside and went along with the doctor’s nonchalant view of my menstrual health.
Years passed and my menstrual cycle irregularities continue and I stay unaware of what was truly going on with my body. It was not until I was 24-years-old did I finally vocalize that I had not had a period for one year. I held on to the doctor’s words for years, up until I did not have a period for one – whole – year.
Fast forward on to the 1st of June 2016, at 24-years-old, I made an appointment with a general doctor and attended the consultation with my mother. After I explained my situation, she reads my body shape and intrusively runs a finger across the space between my upper lip and my nose to point out my facial hair. She tells me that I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and must “reduce my weight.” Not much detail was offered to me; just the name of my hormonal disorder and minutes of fat shaming. It was a horrible way of being diagnosed. I sat through whatever she had to say, kept a strong front and left. Judging by how unalarmed my mother was, in hindsight I feel that it was because she knew about PCOS just as much as I did, which was nothing.
When I got home, I went straight on to my laptop and began to do my research on PCOS. It was exactly this moment when it felt like a big giant bus ran me over. Especially when I learned that there was no cure.
After phases of going in and out of depression and struggles to readjust and accept my new reality, I can still say that I feel twinges of resentment as to how unhelpful the doctors were. According to a Huffington Post article titled “4 Frustrating Facts About PCOS… and What They Mean for You,” almost only 50% of women have been accurately diagnosed. Which translates to the fact that this deficiency of the global medical industry is abandoning millions of women with PCOS to go undiagnosed. Even my own mother at the tender age of 64, although thankfully has made it this far without any serious health complications and has given birth to three children, had absolutely no idea that she had PCOS nor known of its existence until my diagnosis.
My final message and lesson to everyone who reads this is that when it comes to your health, never hesitate to push your doctors. Speak up for yourself, stand up for yourself and most of all advocate yourself. If one doctor does not listen to you, immediately move on to another. Repeat this cycle until you find the support that you need. Your health and well-being is vital.
Anything could have happened to me within the year or more of not being diagnosed and I do not wish that part of my life living in ignorance to anyone. Today, I am thankful to have finally found an OBGYN who assures that I am heard and answers all of my questions.