A young woman looking out towards the ocean.

I’m going to tell you all something I’ve never really talked openly about. Except once, two years ago in my polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) support group.

l used to hate myself.

I hated myself so much I didn’t want to live. So much so my mom had me hospitalized.

Why talk about it now?

Because it’s part of my story. A really dark part. I used to feel ashamed of it. I used to hide it away and try to forget it. And I do most days, except when people use mental illness as a snarky cut down of someone. It hurts looking back knowing now it wasn’t my fault. Mental illness runs in my family. Not that that is the only reason I was depressed. I wasn’t given the tools I needed to cope with my feelings before it got to that point. I was a ticking time bomb of instability labeled as a “moody teenager who didn’t like being chubby.” I felt like I was making things up because “girls with so much opportunity shouldn’t be so angry at the world,” but I wasn’t angry at the world. I wasn’t in control of my world. It was spinning and I wanted off.

Even after I was hospitalized and sent home, it wasn’t spoken of. I felt shame for something I couldn’t control. It took my aunt dying by suicide for the topic to even be discussed in my family.

I no longer feel depressed, yet I am aware of its triggers. I see a counselor regularly for my own well being. I treat my mental health just like I treat my physical health. I am not ashamed anymore. I learned that just like your body heals, so can your mind. Mental illness isn’t something that needs to be hidden in dark corners. It’s present in people you know in your everyday life. People you look up to. People you wouldn’t imagine.

It’s hard and scary and lonely.

Sixty percent of women with PCOS have at least one mental health concern, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorder, and are at greater risk for suicide. I urge you, if you are struggling – seek help. If you are facing mental health issues, share your story. It’s not shameful to be going through it. What’s shameful is making people feel like they are less than because of it.

Why is this so important to women with PCOS? Because we already struggle with symptoms and issues that mess with our self-image and feeling of being feminine. We are under diagnosed, mismanaged, and made to believe this is our own doing. We are told that we brought it on ourselves and we can just “lose weight,” just like that. But it’s not that simple. Neither is dealing with anxiety and depression, and being told to just “be happy.” It’s a vicious circle of being told we are the cause of our own issues because our own peers and society, the very people who are supposed to care for our health, don’t even understand us. How are we supposed to cope?

There is a very important reason I share the things I do. Not to warrant sympathy. Not to throw a pity party. But because two years ago, in the absolute depth of despair and feeling like I couldn’t ever deal with any of this, I decided to share my story online. And it was hard. And scary. And people judged. They still do, but you know what? One girl decided to share her story, too. Or reach out for help. Or start asking questions. And that lead to more women doing it… until just a little part of the PCOS community didn’t feel like they wanted to just disappear.

So yes, I may not be an educator. A researcher. A scholar. I won’t ever be rewarded for my perfection or praised for my shiny life. But I will keep making sure one more women knows she isn’t alone. She deserves better. She is worthy. She is not alone. You are not alone. You deserve better treatment, advocacy, understanding, and knowledge. But you have to speak up. You have to give to the people speaking up for you. Support those people. Every little bit helps.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Follow this journey on PCOS Support Girl.

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My dear,

I know we’ve been through so much together already. The tears, the pain-filled nights, the angry outbursts and all the doctor appointments. I know this hasn’t been easy for you because it definitely hasn’t been easy for me.

 

Thank you. Thank you for being kind. Thank you for the kind words when you know I’m in pain. Thank you for understanding that I can’t help my beard (even though I shave every day). Thank you for making me feel loved and sexy.

I’m also sorry. I’m sorry for cursing at you when my emotions get the best of me. I’m sorry for asking so much of you. I’m sorry you have to care for me when my cysts burst and I’m in tears on the couch. I’m sorry I can’t lose weight.

I can’t express how grateful I am every single day for your dedication to me. My moods, weight, excessive hair, acne, infertility and depression have never kept you from loving me. PCOS is no fun for either one of us and I know it’s hard. Thanks for being my strength.

– Your future wife

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I remember the day I first realized I was losing my hair. I was in the bathroom at my grandmother’s apartment. The side part in my chocolate-colored hair looked very wide and my scalp peeked out in various spots. Anxiety quickly gripped me in the chest; it felt like a fist was squeezing my lungs. That sensation soon turned into a heaviness in my stomach. Overwhelmed by embarrassment and fear, I wanted to cry but no tears fell. That day was nine years ago.

After realizing I had gradually lost a great deal of hair, I began noticing other worrisome problems. I had long struggled with weight, but it seemed like I was gaining pounds much faster than usual. I developed acne along with hairs on my neck and above my lips. My menstrual periods completely stopped. By the time I finally got up the nerve to visit a physician, I had gone over a year without a single period. I was horrified by what was happening to my body, and I often isolated myself at home. The thought of someone teasing or rejecting me over my appearance was excruciating, so I thought it was better not to even risk it.

 

When I first broached the topic of my symptoms with doctors, I was met with a lot of shrugged shoulders and lectures about weight loss. For some of them, weight loss was the cure for all known ills. Their stance was that I would have clear skin, better hair and regular periods if I was stricter with my diet and dedicated to more strenuous exercise. “So, it looks like you haven’t lost any weight since your last visit,” said one physician’s assistant, as I sat half naked on an examination table. “Are you taking this seriously?”

I experienced scenes like this over and over, and I’d rarely do more than nod and look down to study the tile patterns on the floor. Humiliation sucked out all the air in the room in these situations, leaving me tongue-tied or silent. Any feeble attempts on my part to explain that I was following healthier lifestyle habits were met with skepticism or even hostility. The reading on the scale was all that mattered. And since the scale wasn’t moving in the right direction, they assumed I was confused at best and lazy at worst.

Over the next few years, my symptoms worsened as I fought to find a physician who could make some sense of what was happening. My despair tightened around me with increasing strength, eventually enveloping my entire home with the fog of hopelessness. I was in a loop of agony that began with me crying during my morning shower and ended with me crying myself to sleep at night. Depression seemed to burn my very essence, making me unrecognizable even to myself. There’s a line in a Travis song called “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?” that goes, “I’m seeing a tunnel at the end of all these lights.” I’d listen to it on repeat.

Finally, in 2012, I was able to get a firm diagnosis from a physician. She ran several tests and found that my hormone levels were abnormal. That, in combination with the signs and symptoms I was exhibiting, led her to identify my foe: polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. Like many people who learn what causes their health problems, I felt a mix of relief and sadness. I finally had proof there was something medically wrong with me, but that knowledge was also frightening. As the doctor discussed the condition, adrenaline shot through my body like little lightning strikes. It was the fight-or-flight response in action: I knew my adversary and I wanted to knock it out with a few good punches and kicks, but I also felt tingling in my legs that was urging me to run.

But my enemy was within my very own body, and I couldn’t escape it.

That enemy, PCOS, is a complex condition that isn’t fully understood. Its name comes from the prevalence of multiple cysts that form on the ovaries, yet not all women diagnosed with PCOS have these cysts. The abnormal hormone levels, including an excessive amount of androgens, contribute to a variety of challenging issues. Irregular or absent periods, infertility, skin problems, irregular body hair growth, head hair loss, and weight gain are typical problems that those of us with PCOS have to deal with on a daily basis. If those issues weren’t enough to contend with, women with PCOS are at higher risk for multiple life-changing – and possibly life-threatening – medical problems. According to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health, those with PCOS are more likely to develop sleep apnea, high cholesterol, hypertension, type II diabetes, and endometrial cancer.

It’s hard to know how to tackle something that’s so multifaceted and complex. Eating healthy and exercising has helped me keep my condition under control, but lifestyle changes haven’t been enough. My doctor first started me out on oral contraceptives, which, through balancing hormones, help reduce some of the embarrassing physical manifestations of PCOS. Unfortunately, those tiny tablets that millions of women take every day almost caused me to have a stroke. With every attempt to try another birth control pill, I was rewarded with chest pain, legs that felt like dead weights and numbness on the left side of my body.

My primary doctor eventually referred me to a specialist who has studied PCOS for years. “Don’t fixate on the scale. Focus on how you feel and how your lab tests are looking. What’s going on inside your body is much more important than what you weigh,” she told me. It felt as if someone had finally let the air back into one of those examining rooms. There was such freedom in hearing her words, but there was also a limit to how relieved I could feel about her advice; after all, we live in a culture that tells us that we most definitely should worry about the number on the scale. I started a new treatment plan involving metformin, typically used to treat type II diabetes, and spironolactone, a diuretic drug with anti-androgenic properties.

Together, these medications have been instrumental in managing PCOS. Still, we haven’t discovered the perfect dosages that will reduce my symptoms without creating new ones. If I take too much metformin, I have low blood sugar episodes; if I take too little, my symptoms flare up. And I have quite the tortured love affair with spironolactone. The ideal dosage makes my skin flawless and greatly reduces my irregular hair growth – while also making me have prolonged menstrual periods lasting for months at a time. I’m on a much lower dose now that has resolved the bleeding issue, but it is much less effective for treating my skin and hair issues.

With all that’s going on in the world, it may seem that things like hair, skin and belly size aren’t all that important. They have nothing to do with who I am as a woman, as a person. Yet I don’t trust that everyone else gets it. We are inundated day after day with directives on how to look. Women are often told they have to be skinny, hairless, flawless creatures – something more akin to a robotic doll than a live human being. We teach children not to judge a book by its cover, but it seems like all we do is zoom in on the worst features of each other for kicks. And we zoom in on the worst features of ourselves all too often.

That kind of self-punishment is draining, and it led me to complete therapy in order to get a grip on my anxiety and low self-esteem. During one session, my counselor told me that all I see is what I’ve done wrong in life. I don’t see myself as a whole person but rather a collection of failures that no one wants to be around. Logically, I know she’s right that others in my life don’t see me as a walking mass of flaws. Yet anxiety has a rather seductive voice that whispers in my ear when I’m home alone at night. It says I’m too ugly, or I have too many problems to be worth anyone’s time. Those are the really bad nights—the ones where I drift off to sleep on the couch and wake up gasping with a sense of doom. Fear wraps around me in those moments, and it makes me think that life is only going to go downhill from here. Since attending therapy, I have been able to manage my anxiety more effectively, but as everyone with anxiety knows, there are always bad days.

In her book “What Nurses Know…PCOS,” Karen Roush, RN, MSN, FNP, writes that PCOS “should not turn your life into an endurance test.” But that’s exactly what it’s felt like over the past several years. Life with the syndrome means having to always be worried about my organs and how my body functions. It means devoting time each day to ensuring there are no obvious signs of PCOS when I go out into the world. It means always struggling to decide when and if I should tell others about my condition.

It takes a lot of strength to deal with the repercussions of PCOS. I have to remind myself every day that it’s not worth it to dislike myself because of what I see on television or in internet comment sections. I’m smart, funny and imaginative. I love to travel with friends, lose myself in music, wander around bookstores and swoon over British period dramas. I graduated summa cum laude from college, helped adult students improve their literacy and started my own writing business. People tell me they feel safe in my company, and they come to me for nonjudgmental advice. I know how to be the adult in the room without sacrificing the part of myself that’s still just a giggly little girl. I have gorgeous eyes that are the color of the ocean during a storm. How in the world could some missing hair stand up to any of that?

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I was probably diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) when I was 15. I was having a heavy period and losing so much blood that I fainted once I got up. So my mum took me to the doctor’s office and we left with birth control pills. The doctor didn’t mention anything about PCOS.

It was only three years later that a doctor told me and explained it to me. I had gotten off the pill and my period just wouldn’t come. Not for weeks and not for months.

I was in the middle of my finals in high school. So I told myself: it’s just the stress.

So when exams were over, I went back to the clinic, only this time to a different doctor. This time, she asked me why I got off the pill if I had polycystic ovary syndrome. It was there in my file. Did the previous doctor just forget to mention it?

The diagnosis, along with my diagnosis for Hashimoto’s, hit me hard.
Both changed my life completely, but the diagnosis for PCOS felt a lot more personal. A lot more real. This was probably because I could see the effects of the disease every month. Every month I missed was another month of knowing: I am sick. This is not normal. Something is wrong.

I just graduated high school and the world was supposed to be conquered by me. I had plans to go study abroad. In fact, I was already packing up my suitcase as I was supposed to leave in only two weeks. I wanted to get a nice job after college and then find the perfect husband. Get married, have a career and have kids.

I always wanted to have children. Not a lot, maybe two. I just always felt I really was supposed to be a mother. But suddenly there I was, sitting in the office of a doctor who looked at me with a face full of pity that said, “Better not dream of kids. Better not plan the future. Better not leave now.”

Yet there I was, two weeks later, far from home, left alone with my feelings. Feelings I had not only never experienced before but didn’t expect. Feelings I couldn’t handle and, most importantly, couldn’t trace back to the diagnosis.

I went into full denial mode. I went out too often, drank too much and went home with the wrong boys. Maybe I was just numbing the pain, maybe I was just searching for someone to comfort me, hold me and listen to me.

I felt so lonely. I was all by myself in a city that felt so strange to me, not knowing anyone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. Certainly not with the people I just met. But also not with my mum and dad whom I didn’t want to be worried about me.

After a year, my body just couldn’t cope with my lifestyle anymore. I was exhausted and depressed. I went back home for a week to spend time with my family but mostly to see doctors. I found a new gynecologist who gave me new medication and put off so much pressure. She told me we should meet again in a couple of months to see if the medication worked. That we would find a way for me to have kids and that I should just not wait too long.

I left the doctor’s office, sat in my car and just cried. I was so relieved. Finally, there was someone at least trying to find a solution.

And suddenly it all made sense. I realized that being diagnosed with those conditions a year earlier had sparked all of this. The acting out, the depression, the anxiety.

Sure, I was worried about the present. About the symptoms, especially the ones from Hashimoto‘s. But honestly, I was so much more worried about the future. About reality not even coming close to what I imagined my life to be like. I had lost a dream. I didn’t dare to dream of a future with children anymore. I had so many dreams, a lot of them far from ever being achievable. But there was the one dream that for my entire life I believed would become true. And I just was not sure if this would work out anymore.

When I left home after that week, I felt like I was going in the right direction. I still had a very hard time after returning. I still felt depressed and had to cope with anxiety attacks. Only this time, I knew where all of the feelings were coming from. I now knew how to better handle these very tough days.

I am still afraid sometimes about the whole children thing. I am still afraid of not being able to have children eventually. I am afraid this will scare off potential partners.

I am tired of people telling me that “everything is going to be fine.” Because honestly, no one knows for sure. And if it’s not going to be fine, at least I want to be a little bit prepared for it. And an “everything is going to be fine” will not take away all the fears and hard feelings.

I am tired of people telling me to “not worry about it” because I am still “so young.” I work with a lot of women who are older than me. They are all in their late 20s and early 30s and they are all either getting married or are engaged. And sometimes they tell me, “Oh, you are still so young, you still have so much time, don’t worry about getting married and having children.” And I just sit there and I am unable to say anything when honestly all I want to do is scream at them that I am so f***ing scared and sad and angry. I didn’t sign up for all this shit.

I am so afraid I will miss the chance to have kids because I am not ready emotionally and mentally when my body is. And that when I am ready, my body won’t be anymore.

Now, two years after the diagnosis, I am still struggling. And I will probably struggle until I finally do have kids. But that’s OK. It’s OK to worry and sometimes it might even be good. It led me to change my lifestyle completely. I eat healthy, don’t drink too much and don’t go out more than I should. I do take all the medication and I can feel major improvements. I am not great, but now I know where all of these feelings are coming from.

And I have achieved so much. I made it through my studies abroad, all on my own. I don’t really know where I got the strength to cope with all of this by myself, but here I am. I haven’t fully accepted my conditions, yet I am still learning to love myself, the new me with all the new weaknesses and insecurities – a pretty hard thing to do sometimes. Yes, I am still struggling, but I am OK. I make it through the day. Again and again and again.

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You will probably never catch me sticking my chin out for selfie. In fact, you will never catch me taking a selfie. Cute filters aren’t enough to hide the truth: I have a beard that requires serious Photoshopping.

Compared to the pain of a cyst that bursts, the agony of infertility, or that random stabbing feeling that happens when a cyst is touched during sex, facial hair may seem like a pretty harmless symptom. But in a world that continues to value women for their looks and to judge their competence by their appearance, it is anything but harmless.

When my husband and I were newlyweds, I would sneak into the bathroom in the morning to perform my “removal and camouflage” routine, as if letting him see me do this would somehow violate the marriage contract. The absurdity of this can only be underscored by the fact that two weeks into our marriage I was already using the toilet in front of him while he showered. My body hadn’t fully recovered from the toxic state that led to my celiac diagnosis, and the 30 seconds it took for him to leave the shower were still 29 too many.

Now if we are going out, I just ask him to give me two minutes so I can shave. I still have to go through the trouble of doing it, but that part is easy compared to the trouble of hiding it. The problem isn’t just that you have to conceal the beard; it’s that you have to conceal what you do to get rid of it. Hiding is exhausting, and in the case of beards, expensive.

Maybe you’re thinking Get thee to a laser clinic and be done with it, but it’s not that simple. Lasers don’t remove hormonal imbalances. While they may successfully (subject to the color of your hair and skin) remove the current growth, new growth will continue to appear as a result of your hormones.

The most effective way I’ve seen to control a polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) beard is with a combination of medication and laser removal, but that assumes several advantages, like the funds to afford laser treatments, pale skin and dark hair, and a tolerance for the side effects of the drugs. My own odds are particularly bleak on the last one. Some of the choices for meds are Diane 35 (birth control), Metformin (typically used for type II diabetes), and Spironolactone (for high blood pressure). Obviously, birth control is not for those trying to get pregnant, but this pill is not a good option for me since I have bipolar disorder. Metformin? The most common side effect is gastrointestinal distress. I’m pretty sure I can’t handle any more of that, at least until I’m done my small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) treatment. Blood pressure medication is out of the question because a reading of 83/59 is standard for me. And beyond your ability to tolerate drugs is the cost. Not everyone has health insurance.

So let’s say you stick to the cheapest form of  removal and shave the beard. You know what that leaves you with? The dreaded shadow. How do you hide it? Makeup! Lots and lots of makeup. The key is to lay it on thick and reapply often. Can you hear the cash register ringing? That’s your never-ending beard-bill, my friends. I could take a pretty excellent trip on what my facial hair has cost me, and I could manage a couple weeks vacation time if I could just get back all the time I’ve spent trying to cover it up.

I’d like to say I’ve given up hiding my beard altogether and that I’m growing it out for the Stanley Cup playoffs, but I have yet to crest that pinnacle of awesomeness. More and more I go out without makeup, and while the act itself feels liberating, it’s a bittersweet victory. When I see my reflection in the mirror I avert my eyes from the disheveled woman looking back at me.

Hiding is exhausting, but what if some of the energy I put into masking the beard was a boost to my self-esteem? Taking pride in your appearance is about self-respect, not vanity. Right? Perhaps. All I know is how I feel, and that is frustrated. I’m not loving the idea of my self-esteem being bound to a tube of concealer any more than I’m loving the bearded reflection.

I may not have the courage to grow out my beard (although it has occurred to me that gathering a sisterhood and doing this on Instagram would be the ultimate campaign for PCOS awareness), but I’ve given up pretending it doesn’t exist. I may never conquer this facial hair, but I am going to crush the taboo around discussing it.

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a syndrome that occurs when a women’s hormones are out of balance. This sounds like a small problem, but it can cause severe problems that make it hard to function day to day.

PCOS is the number one cause of infertility among women and occurs in around 10 percent of the female population.

It has many symptoms, but the most common are:

  • Acne
  • Weight Gain and trouble losing weight
  • Excessive hair on the face and body – often the facial hair is very thick and dark
  • Hair Loss
  • Irregular periods, we often will have fewer than nine periods in a calendar year
  • Fertility problems, as I said before, PCOS is the number one cause of infertility in women, even ranking above endometriosis

You get the idea, not fun. I only listed a few of the many physical symptoms, however, there are also many psychological problems that accompany the physical ones.

Women who have PCOS often get mean comments about our appearances and life choices (not having babies). But, because people don’t know the whole story about us and are often uneducated on PCOS, people talk without understanding what they said.

I asked groups of women who live with PCOS to tell me about comments people make to them. Whether it be about weight, pregnancy, or other topics. These are some things they said:

1. My best friend said, “You’re so lucky you can’t get pregnant. That means you don’t have to take the pill. I wish I had that!”

2. It grinds my gears when healthy women complain about their normal period. How about you bleed for months at a time? Or how about you feel how it feels when a cyst bursts inside you? I wish I had a normal period with “normal” cramps. They take Midol, they’re good to go. Me? Doctors give me narcotics, and it still doesn’t take away the pain!

3. “Oh, clean eating and Shakeology will cure your PCOS. My friend used to have PCOS and she swears by it.” PCOS has no cure, you can only treat it.

4. “Can’t you just get gastric bypass?”

5. “Isn’t PCOS just made-up, and an excuse for women to be fat?”

6. “When are you giving me a grandbaby?

7. “Can’t you just do laser hair removal?” I have, repeatedly…in four places. It always comes back.

8. From kids who I know don’t completely understand, “Why do you have a beard if you are a girl?”

9. “If you just try *insert diet or pill* the weight will fall off. It’s all about willpower!”

10. I have such terrible cysts, and it sometimes hurts during sex. I told my doctor and she said, “Well, your husband must be doing it wrong!” Of course, I told my husband, and he wished he would have been there to give her a few choice words.

11. “Why do you have so much body hair for a girl?”

12. “Children are expensive. Why do you want one?”

13. My boss told me when I asked off for another doctor’s appointment, “You really shouldn’t need to go to the doctor this much to get pregnant.” Like are you f***ing kidding me?

14. I used to have such bad pain that I would curl up in bed and sob. My sister said, “Get over it, all women get cramps.”

15. “The pain is all in your head. Try walking it off and maybe it’ll help you,” the obviously pregnant ER doctor told me when I went in for pain. It was so bad I couldn’t stand, let alone walk.

16. “I mean, you can still have babies, it’s not impossible Just harder.”

17. “I’ve gained weight and my periods have become irregular. I must have PCOS too.”

18. Oh, and “just adopt” as if it’s effortless and exactly the same. My husband and best friend are adopted, I love the idea of adoption. But, I feel shame when people demand that I adopt. I want a biological child, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also want to adopt someday. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person for wanting a biological child.

19. People just assume I’m lazy because I’m overweight. Even though I spend my summers wearing a 45 pound pack hiking all over the West, fighting fires in the summer. I burn 4,000 – 8,000 calories a day on the line.

20. I talked with someone about my PCOS and the only thing they seem to hear and comment on the most is, “Oh, so you just need to lose weight and then you will get pregnant. That’s not that hard!” Just because I’m overweight that’s the only thing they say. Not, “Oh man, I didn’t realize how hard to lose weight is and the daily struggle dealing with cravings can be.”

They don’t take into account the hormones I need to take to help me have a period causes weight gain as a side effect. The other thing would be the excessive hair and acne. They say, “Oh, it’s not that bad and you can’t even tell.” Yeah, because I shave, epilate and tweeze two to three times a week.

21. This was said with good intentions, “Don’t worry. God only gives you what He knows you can handle.” However, all I heard was, “God doesn’t think you can handle motherhood.”

22. I’m lucky not to have periods. Because infertility is so much better.

23. A friend’s 5 year old daughter asked me, “Why do you have boy hair on your arm?” I have very dark thick hair on my arms.

24. “It’s OK…it sure is fun trying anyway!”…Says everyone about having troubles getting pregnant.

25. “You look like a woman, but deep inside you must be a man!”

26. One of my doctors, before I was diagnosed with PCOS, told me I needed to get right with God then I would have periods again!

27. “Oh did you notice the dirt on your chin? It’s not dirt? Oh wow!”

28. “Just relax and it will happen.”

29. “It’s not the end of the world, some people have it way worse than you.”

30. People telling you, “Getting pregnant should be natural. You shouldn’t have to plan it.” Some people have no idea how much planning some people have to do, or you won’t get a baby.

31. “I just have to open my legs and I get pregnant.” My friend keeps saying this to me.

32. “Well, you’re fat because you have a disease. That makes it so much better because you have an excuse to be fat.” One of my close friends told me that.

33. “You used to be so pretty. Isn’t there any pill they can give you?”

34. I heard, “Too loose weight, eat no carbs, eat no sugar, and get lots of exercises. I won’t be able to fall pregnant, I’ll be able to build muscle easy as I have higher testosterone levels.” Might as well be a hamster on the exercise wheel only eating lettuce leafs.

35. My personal favorite, “Everyone can lose weight. Just control what you eat and stop being lazy!”

36. “Just lose weight and you’ll get pregnant. It worked for my hairdresser’s sister’s cousin’s best friend’s neighbor.”

37. The worst was when my sister was pregnant with her third, after her and her husband reconciled after a year long separation, ”If I have triplets, you can have one.”

38. “PCOS has nothing to do with your weight, it’s just an excuse. You should go on a stricter diet.”

39. “I completely understand.” No you don’t. I promise you don’t understand unless it’s happening to you. It’s so much more than just cysts on your ovaries.

40. “But you’re not hairy.” We don’t all have exactly the same symptoms!

41. “A hormone imbalance is easy to fix.”

42. Them: “Have you tried (insert any commercial hair loss shampoo here that they’ve never actually even tried)?”
Me: I’ve tried like literally every hair loss shampoo and remedy there is. It’s hormonal and shampoos can’t fix it.”
Them: “OK, but you should still totally try it, this one totally looks like it could help.”
Me: “It’s hormonal.”
Them: “OK, but…”

43. “Can’t you just shave your face and neck?”

44. “You don’t want kids, they suck.”

45. “I’ve never heard of PCOS, are you sure that’s a thing?”

46. “Wait so you get hair everywhere on your body, except your head? That’s not possible.”

47. “God has a plan,” or “It’ll happen when it’s meant to be.” That’s lovely, but at some point, that perfect design goes into menopause so kids are no longer an option.

48. “PCOS and endo? Is that an STD?” Endo = endometriosis.

49. “So why do you look like a man?” After I explain PCOS, they reply, “Explains a lot, you’re so manly!”

50. “Intrauterine insemination? In vitro fertilization? If God wanted you to have kids, He would have given them to you.”

51. “That’s too bad. You would make such a good Mom.”

52. “If you keep waxing and not shaving your hair will get less and less.”…I’ve been waxing for 20 years, still waiting for that to happen.

53. “It’s not that bad.” Ugh. It sucks. The painful cramps and when a cyst bursts? I’m hoping to be killed so it’ll stop.

54. “But you’re not fat?” Yes, and do you have any idea how hard I have to work for that?!

55. “I know you are trying to have kids, but do you want one of mine? Babysit for a while. You’ll change your mind I promise.”

56. “When are you going to have kids? You’re the only one left in the family (on both sides) to not have kids yet.”

57. “It’s not hard to loose weight. All you have to do is diet and exercise.”

58. If you do (insert current fad) diet, you’ll loose all that weight.”

59. “Your not trying hard enough.”

60. “Must be nice not having to worry about getting pregnant.”

61. “Why do you keep trying if you know you’re at a high risk for miscarriage?”

62. My adopted mom asked me if I was meant to be a boy because I have hair every where and have to shave my face. It was such a harsh blow. She still, to this day, doesn’t understand what I deal with. So disheartening.

63. “Oh it looks like you’re forming a PFD here,” said my pediatrician talking about my weight gain. Responding, I asked, “Uh. PDFs are digital files, what’s a PFD?”  He replied, “A personal flotation device.”

The doc thought it was so funny but I cried for hours when I got home.

64. “Get a bottle of wine and a hotel room for the weekend,” which was said by one of my 95 year old patients when I explained my PCOS and fertility issues. That one was actually kind of cute…But the whole, “Don’t think about it so much. You have to stop trying for it to work,” stuff gets old.

65. “We’ve got two babies now. Isn’t it about time you had one too?”

66. “You really need to start thinking about losing weight, the older you get the harder it’ll be.”

67. “It’s a good thing you can’t have kids, they ruin your life anyway.”

68. “It’s easy to lose the weight! You just need to focus!”

69. “When are you having a baby? You’re getting old.”

70. “So do you need an antibiotic or steroids to get rid of it?”

71. “Well I never had a problem getting pregnant.” Like I really need to hear all about how you didn’t have any problems getting pregnant!?

72. “You’re body produces too much testosterone? Maybe you were supposed to be a man.”

73. “Wow, I wish I could go years without a period.”

74. I had an older nurse ask, “Why are you struggling with fertility? You’re so young?” I told her I had PCOS and her response was, “Wow! I guess they don’t make them like they used to!”…I don’t know what to even say after that.

75. “Are you pregnant?”

76. “Maybe you aren’t meant to be a mother.”

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