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The Pain of Living With PCOS

Updated on January 3, 2019
JynBranton profile image

After a decade as a journalist, Jennifer Branton is on the path to finding a balance between career and writing.

Seventeen And Still No Menstruation

I don't know who I blamed for my lack of health care in the years before adulthood. Whereas my mother should have been responsible for my upbringing, and talking to the pediatrician in those early years before I knew the things to ask, maybe it was my fault too somehow; I felt this often as an adult.

My Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome went un-diagnosed for most of my teen years, my mother maybe telling the truth that she and her sisters always had irregular periods themselves and it was probably genetic.

Maybe a part of her felt that was the type of feedback they had gotten from the doctor growing up in the sixties, and the as long as you weren't bleeding out your eyeballs everything was fine method had worked just fine for her and there was nothing she would do to change it with her own children. I knew though, in many other manners this was just another way my mother was neglectful.

While all the other girls at school had periods in freshman and sophomore year when I attended high school in the nineties, I still hadn't had a first period until my senior year.

Then one day it had come and from the start it seemed something wasn't right, but from my mother's example, I knew we don't talk about those sorts of things.


Without an exact cause known for the condition Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome effects the reproductive system causing follicles on the ovaries as a result and fail to release eggs and have menstruation due to too much of the male hormones in the body. Long term complications include weight gain, type two diabetes, infertility, and body hair due to the influx of male hormone levels.

You're Really An Ugly Girl

Through high school and college, I was rather pleased with my looks however despite the bloating of periods that had finally came every few months with long spans in between. Somehow I had managed to stay thin until at least age twenty when suddenly I began to pack on the pounds and not be able to lose the weight.

When a doctor had finally put the symptoms together and figured out this was probably PCOS, the medical community failed me for the second time with no suggested treatment.

I later found out that in many situations women were put on the birth control pill or other contraceptive forms to try and regulate the period. Instead I wasn't offered anything at all and went through life for a few years fat and bloated.

Still I never felt that the condition was doing anything negative to my body yet until sometime in my twenties I began to notice a stray hair or two around my jaw line or cheek. With my hair being dark it was far more noticeable than the peach fuzz of girls with light hair and I began to pluck.

Within days though that random hair would have grown back more coarse and darker to my astonishment.

By the time I reached thirty I was forced to daily use of a razor in the morning to get rid of the hairs which would return to a bit of five o'clock shadow by the evening.

The use of makeup only hides the area for so long and by the evening I was running to the bathrooms at work or out in public to see if I could get what stubble had appeared again off with a razor and hand mirror in a bathroom stall often causing little nicks in my skin from the frequent shaving.

I thought no one had noticed but people had told me I always looked like I had a dirty mark in my makeup around my chin line and once and ex told me I was ugly and looked like a transvestite despite knowing it was from a medical condition.

Due to my dark hair, plucking every few days just wasn't enough to treat the hair in the frequency that it was coming in and I moved to shaving daily with a touch up later in the evening when I was out. But the pain from constant skin irritation and ingrown hairs wasn't worth it either. Being on birth control hadn't stopped the hair growth either so I turned to laser hair removal as the next step.

Somewhat Regular

While weight loss is only one way to help the body deal with the type two diabetes risk that comes with PCOS, there is thought that a good diet could also help manage the facial hair that comes with the condition.

Some tips include avoiding excess dairy which is associated with testosterone levels, managing insulin levels if already diabetic, and avoiding excess greasy and fatty foods.

Staying active also helps with becoming diabetic.

Strangely in the backdrop of managing a health condition that was ruining my life, I met my husband and we desired to have a family even though I was pretty sure that I would never be able to have children with the infrequent periods that loomed over my adulthood.

Without even realizing we were expecting as my lack of periods and no morning sickness for months hid the fact my son was on the way. Two years later, we were pregnant again with a second child that ended in a miscarriage a few months ago.

My current doctor was not surprised that even though my periods were always erratic from the condition, that I had manged to get pregnant twice and didn't see it impossible to keep expanding our family either.

Stranger still the two pregnancies had actually leveled out my period and it had been like clockwork coming for the last three years after a lifetime of sometimes going six months or more between cycles.


Although my periods were infrequent and erratic, I had gotten pregnant twice and my current doctors sees no reason that I can not go on to have more successful pregnancies. Since the birth of my son and the brief time on the birth control pill after he was born until we were looking to have another child, my periods became regular again although through both pregnancies just as on the pill, it hadn't ended my battle with the unwanted facial hair.

Time For Laser Treatment

I still have times that I feel like the ugly girl in high school that everyone is pointing at.

I still have those times when after being out all day that I run my finger over my cheek and feel the coarseness of a budding hair again and have to run into the bathroom and take a razor to the area. Tired of shaving my skin raw, I am thinking of electrolysis as the next rather expensive step to fighting the condition.

While pregnancies had given me a more stable period, they hadn't done battle with the facial hair problem and I had looked into getting laser treatment to deal with the problem for good although my insurance won't pay for it and it will take several treatments to see if there are any results.

While media is turning its gaze to this issue in articles and YouTube channels to empower the one in ten women in the US with this syndrome, I find myself constantly explaining to people what it is.

I still feel like eyes are on me and I am hiding my head to keep whatever shadow around my jawline hidden.

I wish that I could stop caring what other people think, but even if they aren't I always think everyone is staring at me because of past experience and that is far more damaging than symptom of a condition could be.

No one asked for this to be part of their genetics and we have to to be supportive to each other. There is no reason any women should have to change their facial hair at all, as it is society that pushes them into being insecure about it.

I think about doing laser treatment but is it for me or for the people I feel might be staring. Maybe I need to reconsider exactly who I am trying to please before spending the money for the endeavor.


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