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When PCOS Makes Me Feel Less Than Feminine

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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.

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.

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Thinkstock photo via ZapikanStudio.

Originally published: October 11, 2017
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