Approximately 5 million women in the United States suffer from PCOS, and September is PCOS Awareness Month. To offer insight into what living with the condition is like, and what women want others to know about it, PCOS blogger and health coach Tarryn Poulton polled her readers. Here are 10 insights that will help you understand your friends or partners who do have PCOS.
PCOS affects all those suffering it in so many ways; not only does it impact fertility, but it can also affect mood and self esteem. I find that PCOS is a personal syndrome, affecting us intimately. It’s also a diagnosis many of us don’t talk about that often.
If you have PCOS, I hope you realize you’re not alone in your battle. And if you don’t have PCOS, PCOS awareness is crucial. You may not realize your friends or spouses are suffering from it.
To celebrate PCOS Awareness Month this September, I asked hundreds of different women who have PCOS what they want their spouses or friends to know about living with it. Here’s what they said:
1. I am more than my ovaries.
PCOS impacts our ovaries, of course, but it goes beyond that. PCOS is an endocrine disorder that affects almost every part of my body and life.
I struggle with gaining weight easily, as well as moodiness and depression. I worry about whether I’ll ever be able to have a baby and sometimes, it’s even hard to think clearly. I am often exhausted.
So, no, PCOS doesn’t affect just my ovaries. It affects me as a whole person. There are days that I need leeway—or just a little more compassion.
2. If I’m overweight, it’s not because I don’t try.
I’m sure some people think I’m lazy, that I eat too much or that I don’t care how I look. I promise this isn’t true. Please don’t judge me because of my size.
PCOS makes gaining weight very easy, and losing it is a constant struggle. I am often careful about what I eat, and I am mindful about what I put in my body. I know I’m overweight but I’m working on it.
3. Fertility can be really difficult to manage.
Fertility can be hard. Getting pregnant with PCOS can be challenging on so many levels. While it’s not impossible for me to become pregnant with PCOS, it can definitely take a long time. The time I spend thinking about fertility, or longing to get pregnant can bring a lot of heartache. Here’s a tip: before you ask me if I’m pregnant (because of my weight), or when I’m going to have kids, think twice.
And here’s where it might not make sense: If I do have children, it doesn’t mean that PCOS doesn’t affect me anymore!
4. PCOS can cost me a lot of money.
Having PCOS can be expensive! There are doctor’s bills and medications, and at some point I may have to consider the cost of fertility treatments. Eating healthy foods in order to manage my PCOS is crucial, but it comes at a price. Healthy, whole foods tend to be much more expensive than standard processed foods. So, treating my PCOS is not only an investment of time and energy, it can also be expensive. Investing in my health is important to me, though, to make sure I live my life to the fullest.
5. I’d willingly get my period if it meant I could be healthy.
Have you ever met a woman who is ecstatic about getting her period? No? If you have PCOS, you may not have a natural period for months, or even years. So if we finally do get it, it’s cause for major celebration! It may seem convenient to go without getting a natural period for a couple of years… but it’s not. It’s a sign and a reminder that my body is not functioning properly.
6. There’s no cure for PCOS.
At the moment, there is no cure for PCOS, and that’s something I just have to learn to cope with. If I get my PCOS symptoms under control, I need to make sure to keep them under control.
Everyday, I wake up and decide that PCOS is not going to get the best of me. I focus on working hard to be healthy. Naturally, some days are better than others, but overall, I do everything that I can to keep my PCOS under control.
7. Sometimes I’m irrational and I can’t help it.
There are times when I recognize that I am being irrational or hormonal, but sometimes I just can’t control my mood. Yes, I can be difficult at times, and I don’t like this about myself. Another reminder that PCOS affects more than just my ovaries. (Have I said that before?)
My moods can get the better of me, and trust me when I tell you that my mood swings are not fun for anyone, myself included. It is something that I am always working on, just as I’m working to get my physical symptoms under control as well.
8. I am not the only one who is suffering.
PCOS affects one in 10 women worldwide. So, I am definitely not alone in my struggle. Given that there are millions of women affected by PCOS, I wish we had better support and a better understanding of what PCOS is and how it affects all of us. PCOS awareness, especially this month, is critical because it is a silent cause of many health issues among women.
9. I’m determined.
PCOS is not fun! It affects every area of my life. Because of it, I am at risk for a lot of secondary health issues and my PCOS symptoms often make me feel unfeminine and unattractive. However, I refuse to let PCOS dictate my story and I will keep going in my fight against it.
10. I appreciate you!
People who take time to listen and try to understand our condition are important. Surround yourself with people who are also struggling with PCOS (for support!), as well as compassionate listeners who can help you feel your best. If someone you love has PCOS, thank you for loving her and trying to spread PCOS awareness.
Learn more about Tarryn and her PCOS advice at her blog PCOS Diet Support!
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