Did you know that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects a whopping eight to thirteen percent of women worldwide? That’s a significant number, but here’s the kicker: a staggering 70 percent of cases often go unreported. Let’s change that!
So, what’s PCOS, you ask? It’s like having a tornado hit your beach vacation – not fun at all. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects people with ovaries, and it comes with a whole bag of tricks: irregular periods, hormonal imbalances, hirsutism (unwanted hair growth), stubborn acne, and even mental health challenges.
To get a real feel for living with PCOS, we chatted with Esther Alaribe and let us tell you, it’s no joke.
“My life was in shambles. I shut out a lot of people, my productivity tanked, my relationships suffered, and I was a perpetual ball of anger and bitterness about things that didn’t even exist… My emotions were all over the place,” Esther shared.
Esther’s experience isn’t unusual for many women grappling with a condition that, unfortunately, has no cure. She found herself limited to birth control pills as her treatment option, but those pills come with their bag of tricks in the form of side effects. When she rejected that option, her gynaecologist advised her to have kids before hitting 30. Dealing with PCOS at 24 was not what Esther had in mind for her twenties!
Believe it or not, PCOS is ubiquitous. It’s one of the most frequent hormonal disorders among people of reproductive age, and it seems to have a particular affinity for black women and women of colour. So, chances are, you know someone dealing with it, even if they haven’t shouted it from the rooftops.
Empowering women: PCOS awareness and support
But here’s the kicker: PCOS awareness is seriously lacking, considering that half the world’s population could be susceptible to it. PCOS Awareness Month is our chance to shine a light on this condition and support the millions of women living with it. So, how can we make a difference?
Step one: Let’s get to know PCOS. Most people have no idea what it is, and many women who suffer from its symptoms don’t even realise they have it. Whether you’ve just been diagnosed or have known about it for ages, learning about the condition empowers you to make informed decisions about your health.
Step two: Break the stigma! PCOS has been a hushed topic for far too long, and that’s got to change. By openly discussing PCOS, we’re not just supporting those who have it but also breaking down the stigma surrounding other women’s health issues.
Step three: Find your tribe. Studies show that women thrive in women-only communities. In the battle against PCOS, finding a community to be part of is vital. You’re not alone in this journey! There’s a whole community of fierce and fabulous women dealing with PCOS. Connecting with others who understand what you’re going through can be incredibly uplifting. Seek support groups, online forums, or local meetups to share your experiences.
Step four: Healthy choices for a healthier you. While PCOS has no magic cure, lifestyle choices can make a big difference. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management techniques can work wonders in managing symptoms and improving your overall well-being.
Step five: Explore your fertility options. PCOS might throw a wrench in your baby-making plans, but it doesn’t mean it’s game over. Many women with PCOS have gone on to have healthy pregnancies with some help from medical interventions or fertility treatments like IVF, egg freezing, and even surrogacy. It’s proof that the human spirit can overcome anything.
Step six: Let’s amp up the research. A condition affecting such a large percentage of people deserves more attention. PCOS Awareness Month reminds us of the need for ongoing research and medical advancements. By advocating for more studies and better treatments, we can pave the way for future generations to find solutions to this condition.
Self-care and support tips
Living with PCOS is no cakewalk. The emotional and physical toll it takes on its victims is unparalleled. Here are a few tips for women grappling with this condition:
- Self-Care: Treat yourself! Self-care is your secret superpower, whether it’s a spa day, diving into a good book, or simply savouring a quiet moment.
- Set Goals: Define your goals, both big and small. Whether managing your weight, regulating your menstrual cycle, or starting a family, having clear objectives can motivate you.
- Educate Yourself: Knowledge is power. Learn about PCOS, the treatment options, and the latest research. Being well-informed empowers you to make confident decisions about your health.
- Speak Up: Don’t be shy about sharing your PCOS journey with others. Your story could inspire someone to seek help or support those in need.
- Support System: Surround yourself with people who lift you. Friends, family, or support groups can provide invaluable emotional support.
- Celebrate Wins: Whether it’s a regular menstrual cycle, achieving a fitness milestone, or any personal achievement, celebrate your victories, no matter how small they may seem.
- Embrace Your Body: PCOS may bring physical changes, but your body is still fantastic. Embrace it, love it, and appreciate all that it can do.
PCOS Awareness Month is a powerful start, but let’s not stop here. Every day is an opportunity to stand with PCOS warriors, educate ourselves and others, and erase the silence surrounding this condition. While September may have only 30 days, our commitment to fostering understanding and empowering women with PCOS knows no bounds.
As we bid farewell to this awareness month, let’s make a promise – to continue listening to the stories, struggles, and strength of these incredible women. Let’s ensure that no one faces PCOS alone and that every day becomes an opportunity to support, uplift, and advocate for those with PCOS.