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17 Signs You Grew Up With PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. This often results in irregular or missed periods, which can in turn lead to the development of cysts in the ovaries or infertility. The hormonal imbalance can also cause symptoms such as acne, excessive hair growth or weight gain.

PCOS is not uncommon, as it affects approximately one in 10 women of childbearing age (between 15 and 44). But for many of those with the condition, symptoms may start appearing even earlier. And even if you start experiencing signs of PCOS as a child or teenager, sometimes it can take a few years to understand why, and receive a proper diagnosis.

We wanted to shed light on the kinds of symptoms people experience growing up that really indicated they had polycystic ovary syndrome (whether they knew it at the time or not). So we asked our Mighty community to share a sign they grew up with PCOS, which they recognize now. Perhaps some of the following will sound familiar to you, too.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. Irregular period, super heavy period to the point it was affecting my school days, weight gain and having a lot of difficulty losing it, depression, anxiety, chronic migraines, darkening of skin underarms/back of neck, boils in groin/underarm. I was seeing multiple doctors for symptoms and a couple of them started to put together that I may have PCOS so they tested. I was around 17.” – Ryann M.R.
  2. When I was 11 I developed cysts and other unmentionable skin ailments on the sides of my legs. From then until I was diagnosed at 38 I felt ‘dirty’ because of my myriad of skin issues. Then there was the skin discoloration, and the excess hair. These symptoms all pointed to PCOS, and were hard for me to live through as a teenager.” – Misty A.
  3. I didn’t get my period until I was 16, and then it didn’t come back at all until I was put on birth control almost a year later. I thought I was just a ‘late bloomer.’” – Mandie T.
  4. When I was 13 I skipped my period for the first time and my Catholic-raised self was convinced I was either the next Virgin Mary or I had sleepwalked and somehow had sex. I remember sobbing to my mother and having her look at me like I was [ridiculous] and that it was ‘normal.’ I got told every reason in the book (‘stress can do it,’ ‘you play sports,’ etc.) for why I’d skip my period for months at a time. Looking back I really wish I’d known enough about my body to advocate for myself to see a doctor.” – Becca M.
  5. I started plucking my chin hairs when I was 14.” – Kelly M.
  6. Being [debilitated by] pain once a month(ish) and having to have time off of school. Leaking through a super-sized tampon and overnight pad in an hour and a half lesson.” – Vikki J.
  7. Being found passed out in the girls’ bathroom from the pain of period cramps. Also the hormonal migraines I was hospitalized with several times.” – Kristen C.
  8. Around 14/15 my period just stopped. Did not come back ever again save for once in 10 years. I don’t get them at all now.” – Sydney G.
  9. As soon as I hit puberty I gained weight like crazy – no matter how much I ran and played outside. Then at 15 my period stopped for about six months. I went to the doctor and they found a cyst. I’ve been on birth control ever since (I’m 23 now). My hormones are all out of whack. The facial hair is my biggest embarrassment. I don’t want to look like Elvis! And I would really like to lose weight when I try.” – Christina F.
  10. I went through puberty before everyone else… 8 years old. It was beyond odd. Fortunately and very oddly, it somehow resolved itself. Or a misdiagnosis, but we did a scan for cysts and they were there, and at 25 I got pregnant and there was no sign of PCOS anymore.” – Bailey S.
  11. 21 days, nope 36 days, no 29 days, etc… the unpredictability of it has been with me since I started.” – Vanessa D.J.
  12. When I was 11 I had a lot of problems… hot flashes. Hormonal. When I was 12 I was suddenly in pain and kept getting diagnosed with constipation. Finally I was hurting really bad, had a fever of 105 Christmas Eve of ’97. Went to the ER. They immediately took me in for emergency exploratory surgery. They thought my appendix might have burst. Turns out I had a cyst the size of a grapefruit that twisted around, cut off my circulation. I had gangrene… they removed my right ovary and tube.” – Nikki S.
  13. “Soul-crushing cramps. I couldn’t make anyone understand the level of pain. Now I know I had cysts and fibroids, along with PCOS.” – Amy W.
  14. Assuming that everyone started their period at 11. Being shocked that some girls can actually plan around their periods because it’s so regular. Thinking it’s normal to know how to get blood out of underwear like a serial killer. Thinking everyone gets diarrhea with their periods. I just about died when I found out some periods are spotting that lasts for three days. I bled for a year before finally getting my IUD.” – Ashley T.
  15. Excessive hair on my body and really bad acne. Periods were regular.” – Neha R.
  16. I never knew when my period was happening. Most people knew that theirs should start between the 26-29th of the month and I was always just surprised. I also never would know the length – sometimes I would bleed for a day and sometimes it was up to two weeks. But when I would go to the doctor they just told me it was my diet or I’m overweight and that can change the length of periods.” – Baylee M.
  17. The nurse in high school always knew what I needed when I came in and never even questioned me going to lay down on a cot or asking for [medication]. I’d lay down in the fetal position crying and if meds didn’t work I’d get sent home. Thanks to how kindly she treated me, I realized it was OK to take care of myself and to go home from school/work if my pain was too bad.” – Courtney H.

Getty Image by dmbaker