I was first told I might have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the age of fourteen. Back then, it didn’t mean a lot to me. PCOS to me meant that I was chubby, hadn’t started my period, and had acne - seemed fairly normal to me at that age. I wasn’t worried about how to control it or what to do with that information, so I ignored it. Around the age of sixteen I finally received the crown and jewel of womanhood. All my friends had already started so no big deal, I knew how to handle it. PCOS didn’t seem so bad, Until my second cycle. it was MUCH more painful, heavy, and nearly uncontrollable. None of my friends had this problem? Why was my period so different? I had to be so much more careful than any of them.
After that period, I started to have weird pain in my lower pelvic area on the right side. It started as a dull, achy pain but soon became on fire and so sharp. I could hardly sit still in class, it hurt so bad. I didn’t understand why it hurt? It would come and go for about 3 days. This kind of pain called for a doctor visit. She assured me it was probably a cyst. In my 16 year old mind, I panicked! What do I do?! I’m probably going to die from it! She explained I will probably get them often, but they will go away on their own, so not to worry. I wanted to scream! “Not to worry?!” This is miserable, I can’t go through it again! But I do, over and over again, at least 20 more times. I’m now 25, and can tell immediately when I get a new cyst. The pain will get worse and then it’s gone. At times so bad it makes me dizzy and sick, but I know it will get better.
My husband and I have been married a little over 2 years now. We have been together 5 years. We had “the talk” early about how conception might be hard for us. I explained in depth about PCOS. He has always dreamed about being a dad, probably as much as I have been dreaming about being a mom. Even the talk about PCOS couldn’t prepare us for the wait of our own little miracle. Two years of actively trying with no luck. I am not giving up but, it’s so frustrating.... why do we have to wait for our baby? I’ve lost weight (not near enough but still working on that), I track my cycles (when they do come), I take my temperature every single morning, I take my medications (which were just recently changed again), I try to
de-stress, and even monitor every aspect of my life. When we started the pursuit of children I thought, oh, we will just have sex when my ovulation app tells me I’m ovulating and boom, our baby will be here. Nope it doesn’t work like that with PCOS. I don’t ovulate. My body doesn’t naturally produce an egg to release. Another factor of PCOS my 16 year old self hadn’t realized.
When my doctor mentioned PCOS 11years ago she never prepared me for the moment every month of being late; getting excited that I might be pregnant. Running to the store to grab a pregnancy test, thinking to myself “well I have been really tired!” Or “I felt a little sick this morning!”. I wasn’t prepared for all my facial hair, my cystic acne, mood swings, or every negative pregnancy tests I’ve stared at. I was never prepared to watch my friends get pregnant, or see their bellies grow round and plump creating life. It never prepared me for my miscarriage, that I thought would never happen to me. The miscarriage that almost ruined my marriage. PCOS symptoms I can become better prepared for with knowledge. I was not and can not prepare for the emotional and psychological battle that my mind and heart have to fight every day. I try so hard not to be angry, bitter, or jealous, but I can’t always control it. I try not to dream of the future, because I know what I imagine might not happen.
We are all so scared to talk about infertility like it’s a dirty little secret, but something needs to be said. I know I’m not alone. I’m not the only one fighting this emotional battle, and so I will accept this challenge for all of us who feel less of a woman, who feel broken. We are not broken. We can fight this battle, a battle that few people understand, and we will survive PCOS infertility, it will not define me.