Friday, 11 November 2011

PCOS Awareness Week 2011

It’s currently PCOS Awareness Week and as someone who has PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) I wanted to write a little post promoting the week.  I meant to write this at the start of the week but have only got around to writing it now... tut tut :(

Last year was the first ever PCOS Awareness week and after its success it is now an annual event with 2011’s PCOS Awareness week being held from the 5th to the 12th of November.  The week is about raising awareness regarding the condition and informing people about the work that Verity do in supporting women who live with PCOS.  During PCOS Awareness week there are numerous activities happening to raise support and awareness.  Take a look at their website to see the activities they have for this week, including a PCOS puzzle and competition.

PCOS can make many women feel lonely and isolated and that no one understands what they are going through.  The self-help group Verity, established in 1997, is for women with PCOS and “Verity aims to help you understand your condition, to manage your symptoms and support you through what can be a lonely and emotional time.”  Information about PCOS and the support Verity provides can be found on their website.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS for short, was first discovered in 1935 and it is a condition where women who have polycystic ovaries also have one or more additional symptoms.  According to Verity’s website
“The term polycystic ovaries describes ovaries that contain many small cysts (about twice as many as in normal ovaries), usually no bigger than 8 millimetres each, located just below the surface of the ovaries. These cysts are egg-containing follicles that have not developed properly due to a number of hormonal abnormalities.

Polycystic ovaries (PCO) are very common, affecting around 20 per cent of women. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is also very common, affecting 5–10 per cent of women.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS):
  • affects millions of women in the UK and worldwide
  • runs in families
  • is one of the leading causes of fertility problems in women
  • if not properly managed, can lead to additional health problems in later life
  • can affect a woman’s appearance and self-esteem.

Although PCOS is treatable, it cannot be cured.”

The symptoms of PCOS are vast and not all women will have all the symptoms with PCOS affecting women in different ways, for some women they only have a few mild symptoms whilst for some women they suffer from a lot of symptoms and more severely.  As stated on the Verity website the “Symptoms can include:
  • irregular periods, or a complete lack of periods
  • irregular ovulation, or no ovulation at all
  • reduced fertility – difficulty becoming pregnant, recurrent miscarriage
  • unwanted facial or body hair (hirsutism)
  • oily skin, acne
  • thinning hair or hair loss from the scalp (alopecia)
  • weight problems – being overweight, rapid weight gain, difficulty losing weight
  • depression and mood changes.”
    I personally suffer from a wide range of symptoms, some more severely than others.  I was diagnosed with PCOS in my teens and I felt alone.  For years PCOS felt like a huge weight dragging me down and I struggled to be happy with myself and how I look and I worried that I would have difficulty having children one day.  I felt that nobody understood, least of all men and that they would not love or accept me because of PCOS and its symptoms.

    Then I found Lee, very early on I told him that I suffered from PCOS and to my surprise he already knew a little about the condition which was a relief and made me feel less embarrassed.  In Lee I have found someone who accepts and loves me for who I am and looks past the symptoms.  Having his love, understanding and support has helped me overcome my own ‘issues’ with having PCOS and I now accept myself for who I am and I no longer hate suffering from it but embrace it and realise that there are people in this world that are worse off than me.

    One symptom I never knew if I suffered with or not was reduced fertility and if I would have difficulty in becoming pregnant.  I have always wanted children and there was always a little voice in my head that would tell me I’d struggle to conceive.  Knowing that Lee wanted children I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to give him this but he reassured me that he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and having children together would be a bonus.  

    Thankfully any worries were unfounded.  I realise I am very lucky in the fact that we had no problems getting pregnant, the first month of trying it just happened for us and I am very grateful that it did especially as I am aware of so many women who try for years with no success.  I worry a little that when we are ready for a second baby will things be very different and will we struggle to conceive….I tell myself worrying wont help, only time will tell and we are lucky that we have a healthy and happy child in Tristan and anymore would be a bonus.

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