When I was in college, I became friends with a girl named Jeanie. After we’d been hanging out for a while Jeanie confided in me that she had a bad problem with facial hair and acne. She tried to deal with both, but was always worried that people noticed.
Despite being really uncomfortable with the situation, it didn’t occur to Jeanie that there could actually be a reason for it.
In fact, it turned out there was. At the end of the year, Jeanie went to the gyno for a pap smear and mentioned she had irregular periods. The gyno ordered some tests and pretty soon it became apparent that a lot of Jeanie’s issues were actually due to something called polycystic ovarian syndrome (aka PCOS).
PCOS is a condition where a woman’s ovaries develops numerous cysts. According to the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Support Network, symptoms of the condition include:
- Irregular or absent periods
- Numerous cysts on the ovaries in many, but not all, cases
- High blood pressure
- Elevated insulin levels, Insulin Resistance, or Diabetes
- Excess hair on the face and body
- Thinning of the scalp hair
- Weight Problems or obesity that is centered around your mid section
Sounds pretty rough right? Luckily there are treatments for PCOS. These might be as simple as putting a woman on the pill, or they might be more complicated and involved a combination of approaches.
After meeting Jeanie, I learned that two other friends of mine had been dealing with PCOS for a few years. But because they were embarrassed by the symptoms they hadn’t said anything. These days all three have the condition under control. Yet as they and many other women learned the first step towards treatment is diagnosis.