I was diagnosed with Polycystic ovaries when I was 18. My period didn’t start until I was 16, much later than all my other friends at school and after this I appeared to only have a cycle every 3 months or so. I spoke with my mum and we agreed it was a bit odd so I visited my GP.
My blood was sent off for tests but when nothing irregular came back I really had to push for further testing. I knew my body and something wasn’t quite right. I was in no pain thankfully, but my periods continued to be irregular. Thankfully my GP organised a ultrasound scan and that’s when it was confirmed, in fact the doctor performing the scan told me there and then that she could identify cysts on my ovaries.
My mum and I had a little cry in the car afterwards, concerned about what this meant for my fertility and overall health – but thankfully this diagnosis doesn’t appear to have made a massive impact on my physical health so far and nearly 10 years on I have learnt to live with it.
What is Polycystic ovary syndrome?
PCOS is a common condition that affects how a womans ovaries work. This results in the body not regularly releasing eggs and therefore not having a ‘normal’ menstrual cycle. This also can result in high levels of “male” hormones in the body, with physical symptoms such as excess facial or body hair. 1 in 10 women in the UK are affected and is very common.
Signs and symptoms also include weight gain, thinning hair and hair loss and oily skin or acne. PCOS can also be associated with an increased risk of developing health problems such as type 2 diabetes in later life.
So basically… it should be taken pretty seriously.
How PCOS can affect a person’s mental health?
Due to the hormone imbalance there can be a number of reasons why PCOS can affect your mental health:
Raised levels of testosterone – this can affect self-esteem with excessive facial or body hair
Raised levels of luteinising hormone (LH) – this can affect fertilisation and could mean a risk of being unable to produce children
Low levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) – this can affect sex drive and libido
It is still not known why these hormonal changes occur and further research is still required.
All information has been taken from the NHS website.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormone imbalance that causes infertility, obesity, and excessive facial hair in women, can also lead to severe mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.Taken from a study supervised by Columbia University School of Nursing
From my own research it is clear PCOS is a very complex condition. After nearly 10 years of being diagnosed with this condition, I still do not understand it’s lasting affect on me and how it will affect my health later on in life.
For a condition so common there is severe lack of research and information available. Some studies found that that people diagnosed with PCOS are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression than those without PCOS. You can find out more here.
What treatments are currently available?
Making a lifestyle change is recommended – regularly exercising can have an affect on mental health and is normally recommended when patients are diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
No medications are recommended but I did choose to go on the pill once diagnosed to help make my periods more regular. However I have since been off the pill for nearly 2 years and have found no major difference.
So what can we do? Raise awareness of PCOS and ask for further research to be completed and for this condition to be taken more seriously. If it’s affecting that many women, why is this not talked about more? This condition can affect your body’s chemical imbalance, your self-esteem and self-worth, your relationship and future… so why do we not know more about it?