I Have PCOS: One Teen’s Story
Originally Published: May 2, 2016
Revised: May 2, 2016
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a syndrome that can cause irregular menstrual periods as a result of raised levels of male hormones in women and girls. It occurs in five to ten percent of women and girls in their reproductive years and is the most common cause of female infertility due to inconsistent or absent ovulation (the monthly process where an ovary releases an egg).
Not all women with PCOS experience infertility, and there are treatments that can help. Since PCOS often first appears in adolescence, I thought it would be important to learn more about it. To do this, I spoke with former Sex, Etc. staff writer Emma Grant, who was recently diagnosed with PCOS.
Sex, Etc.: When and how did you find out that you had PCOS?
Emma: I found out I had PCOS a little over a year ago. When I went to the doctor searching for answers to my rapid weight gain and acne, they told me about the possibility of PCOS. I had been battling the symptoms for some time before I was diagnosed. PCOS has symptoms that a lot of teens face, so it can be hard to diagnose. I had always experienced irregular periods; my doctor had never been concerned because some people just have a longer cycle than others. It was only the combination of all my symptoms that finally tipped us off to the PCOS.
Sex, Etc.: What was your reaction?
Emma: Finding out I had PCOS was, at first, a miracle. Finally, I knew that the weight gain and acne were not the fault of a poor diet or poor hygiene. However, I had trouble being optimistic when my doctor told me that I would be battling this all my life.
Sex, Etc.: How does PCOS affect you?
Emma: PCOS makes it difficult for me to lose weight because my body has trouble processing the sugars that I consume. Instead of turning them into energy and burning them, my insulin receptors aren’t as active as a normal person’s, and so the sugar gets stored in my body, causing weight gain. PCOS also poses an increased risk for diabetes.
Sex, Etc.: How is your PCOS treated?
Emma: I take a birth control pill. (Editor’s note: This helps to regulate the menstrual cycle as well as hormone levels.) I also take a medication called metformin, which helps my insulin receptors work more efficiently, though not as well as normal.
Sex, Etc.: How do you take care of yourself now that you know you have PCOS?
Emma: Mostly, I don’t do much differently. I watch what I eat and make sure to get exercise, but I still enjoy myself. I may never return to the weight I was before I had PCOS, but I am still perfectly healthy in every other aspect and I can have a wonderful, fulfilling life.
Sex, Etc.: What are some challenges you’ve faced since your diagnosis of PCOS? How have you coped with them?
Emma: Most of my challenges have been related to body image. Since PCOS caused me to gain weight, I have trouble accepting myself and the body I am now in. However, I try not to let these thoughts rule my life. I have decided not to let physical attributes define who I am. Coping with self-confidence issues is hard, but it’s a little easier with loving and supportive friends and family.
Sex, Etc.: What advice would you give someone who is newly diagnosed with PCOS?
Emma: Don’t let it slow you down. It cannot be cured but it can be managed. When handling PCOS, it is important to remember that you control it, it doesn’t control you. Weight loss is possible and treatment is available, so living with PCOS does not mean that you should give up on loving yourself or being the person you want to be.
If you think you may have PCOS or have any symptoms that are distressing or unusual, please consult a medical professional.
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