When I Went Back and Forth About Taking Medication for My PCOS
If you’ve read any of my other stories, you probably already know that I was born with amniotic band syndrome (ABS), was teased and bullied as a child and have a prosthetic leg. But this post isn’t about all that — this time.
On top of ABS affecting my limbs and making me stand out in a crowd, I was also diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) at the tender age of 16.
Most people reading this probably have little idea what PCOS is. Just from the name, you can probably imply it has something to do with cysts on your ovaries. Sounds simple enough. But that’s where the simplicity stops. PCOS affects everything from our ovaries to our hair and (almost) everything in between. According to the PCOS Foundation, “5-10 percent of women of childbearing age are affected by PCOS.” The PCOS Foundation also says PCOS is “responsible for 70 percent of infertility issues in women who have difficulty ovulating.”
While I can talk about my leg and hands all day and show pictures without a second thought, this topic is a bit harder for me since it’s so personal. But since there’s so little written about it, I can’t help but try and raise awareness.
At 16, I saw my doctor for a physical and to talk about the fact that my cycles were far from normal. I had seen an article in a magazine about PCOS, and after reviewing the checklist, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Could this really be what was causing so many things that were wrong with me?
I did some more research and present it all to my doctor. He did a few tests and gave me the diagnosis. Being “overweight” had caused me to have a hormone imbalance, which caused the PCOS. At 16, it felt like a death sentence to me. He sent me home with umpteen different pills, including birth control pills. He told me to lose weight and I’d be fine and that he’d see me in six months to see how things were going.
At 16, I wanted to be a normal kid. I didn’t want to be seen toting around a bag full of pills that I had to take every day. On top of the extra weight, I was beginning to get black hairs on my upper lip and chin. Sweet 16 is when you generally tend to start wearing makeup and become interested in dating. What boy was going to want to date a one-legged pirate with hairs on her chin?
I took the meds for a while and actually ended up losing weight while on the birth control pills. Then I worked on becoming more active and decided I was done with taking the pills. I was a teen. I didn’t need to carry around a bag full of pills with me to sleepover with a friend. I was just fine.
Over the next decade, I went back and forth with following my doctor’s orders and taking the meds. When I finally got into a serious relationship and the topic of possibly having kids in the future came up, the PCOS demon came back. I had changed doctors by this point and my new doc had referred me to an endocrinologist at the local university. She diagnosed my PCOS once again and put me back on a similar regimen.
The next decade was much more of the same, going back and forth about taking meds. I don’t know why I have struggled so much with the thought of being on meds. I suppose I was worried about the stigma of having to take pills or maybe it was just denial. Being a mother is the one thing I have always wanted most in this world, and the daily reminder that this might prove to be an impossibility was a tough pill to swallow.
Having children hasn’t come up too much as of late, so I’m not sure if it will even be a hurdle. But when the time comes, I want to be my best self. I’ve finally managed to get over my hatred of taking the meds, especially if they will help me to get control back of my body. Hopefully, as I continue to work on weight and exercise goals, the hormones will fall back in place and the meds will no longer be necessary. Hopefully.
Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images