When PCOS Makes Me Feel Less Than Feminine


I am a woman. I am a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). I have to shave my face. Every. Single. Day. My PCOS beard often makes me feel ugly, unattractive and manly. But I am a woman.

I began having symptoms of PCOS at the age of 17. The excessive facial hair started coming in and I wasn’t the only person who noticed. Peers in some of my high school classes made a comment or two. But I didn’t let it get to me. I knew high school kids were mean so I paid no attention to it.

I did my research though and came across the term “hirsutism.” I knew that had to be what I was dealing with. It wasn’t until many years later that I ever had the blood work and testing done that I needed to be officially diagnosed with PCOS.

Some common symptoms of this syndrome are excessive hair growth, irregular periods, excessive weight, hair loss on the scalp, depression and oftentimes, infertility. My symptoms are mild in comparison to others. However, just because someone else’s illness may be more severe does not mean your feelings are invalid.

Seeing my PCOS beard on my face, the excess weight in my jeans and knowing there is a possibility I can never conceive often make me feel like I am not a woman, or at least not a good one. I am so ashamed of the hair that I do not let my fiancé touch my face if I haven’t shaved that day. I am embarrassed of the excess weight and the struggles I have gone through trying to lose it. I am disgusted at my body for betraying me and making pregnancy seemingly impossible. It all breaks my heart.

Some days I give up. I tie my hair up in a bun, put on sweatpants and you can forget about makeup. That’s OK! I’ve learned that sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing. Especially if I have a cyst bursting, I don’t want to have to face the world or myself. But on the days I feel up to it and I know I’ve been feeling a little less than feminine, I get myself ready for the world and I work it.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES
via For Grace

Just because my body may be in dysfunction and I feel like it’s telling me I’m not a woman does not mean I have to listen. I am a beautiful, strong, sexy, badass woman. So is every woman whether she’s struggling with PCOS, endometriosis, hirsutism, depression, something else or nothing at all. Don’t let your struggles outshine your light. Be proud, women – no matter what.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via ZapikanStudio.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

A tweet about needing birth control pills with a photo of a pack of birth control pills.

Dear Trump Administration, Birth Control Is More Than a Contraceptive

Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Elizabeth Cassidy, The Mighty’s News Intern, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.  On Friday, the Trump administration moved to pull back an Obama-era mandate that made birth control accessible without co-payments for millions of women. Now, employers [...]
sasha pieterse and gleb savchenko on dancing with the stars

Sasha Pieterse Opens Up on DWTS About Being Body-Shamed for Her Illness

“Pretty Little Liars” actress Sasha Pieterse is using her time on “Dancing With the Stars” to open up about the body image challenges she’s faced due to her illness and advocate for others with the same condition. On Tuesday’s episode, Pieterse revealed in a pre-taped segment before her performance that she had unexpectedly gained weight over two [...]
A sketched outline of a woman with a hat on.

Screw the Stigma, Let’s Talk About PCOS

I was at a Rolling Stones concert when I discovered the first one. A hair. On my chin. What the fuck is this? I spent the rest of the concert performing my own moves like Jagger, trying to get this thing off my face. How did this happen? I was 14. And a girl. My [...]
Two images side by side, one of the writer, one of a teal ribbon that reads, "My life with PCOS."

7 Things You Need to Know About Life With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

At 39, I’ve had more than 21 years of experience with the effects of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) on my body. My experience may differ slightly with others who also have PCOS because it affects people differently. This is my daily routine and it has become my norm. I don’t even think twice about it [...]