Living With PCOS | PANORAMIC PERSPECTIVES
The sad part about coming to terms with this syndrome, is not the stale stigma exuded by ignorant people who aren’t a tad bit patient or willing to understand what is going on with your body, or the tiny or mammoth sized changes you begin to notice across the lengths and breadths of your intimate canvas; no, for me, the fear of not getting a chance to be a mother is what clenches at my heart the most.
My childhood was a beautiful time, filled with magical wonders rendered sweetly in bed time story packages, an inquisitive spirit, a vivid imagination, awesome pocket sized fleets of friends and an all round appreciation for just living. Growing up, I thought I was the most beautiful girl in the world (well, after my mum obviously and thanks to her many exaltations), and I saw no need to conceal my true beauty behind layers of makeup (I vouched to never use makeup, lol!) never tried to blend in with the crowd, parading with an adolescent head held high, an audacious self love.
Puberty hit, I started getting flocks of acne on my face but mummy reassured me that it was just a teenage phase, having been subject to the unfriendly downpour of acne in her youth, it would pass she told me. My period ushered in at the age of 12, though very light, I was infact quite intrigued at the concept of becoming a full voluptuous woman. I saw my period three other times that year, and more or less of that count every year after that, and despite the mild sustained worries of my concerned mother who always promised to take me for a checkup, I was period free and loving every moment of it. Time progressed, my acne worsened- backne, face acne, acne scars- as testaments to this unwanted acne predicament, but it was okay, everything would be okay in due time I kept telling myself, mummy said it was just phase.
I lived life with this hopeful thought smeared into the caves of my mind that indeed it was all a phase, and at the age of 17 I was sent to the Uk for my my undergraduate studies. Slowly but surely, with cleaner air and cooler temperatures the acne- wasn’t obliterated- but it did reduce substantially, thank Goodness I thought to myself, this gruesome phase was finally coming to an end. I blossomed in every other aspect as womanhood promisingly unveiled itself, though my monthly friend was still an August visitor (but it was okay, I was saving bucks and having fun), my breasts had not grown much since I was 13 and I experienced frequent hair loss but casually blamed it on the numerous hair dye escapades I ventured on.
In 2016, I relocated back to Nigeria, and I do not know whether it was the food or the weather or the atmosphere or combination of all these entities, but like an explosion everything was back and just as unfriendly. By this time I started to notice that I was getting hairier than normal, I mean I was hairy, yes, but apart from the bi-weekly trips to the salon to get my unwanted moustache threaded by the nice Indian lady at the market, and the weekly episodes of making it rain in the hair remover aisle I was pretty normal for a humanoid female. However, the situation was growing denser, and at the age of 21 I had spent many-a-nights waiting for this phase to pass but to no avail.
So, one day, surfing the internet for some self diagnostic assistance and pouring in the contents of my symptoms, the descriptions matched into the directory of files under PCOS. Wow, I was finally getting some info to backup the symptoms I had been experiencing for the longest time and this was what I saw.
PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome ‘is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS also may cause unwanted changes in the way you look. If it isn’t treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.’ (webmd.com). These small cysts grow on the ovaries, and though not dangerous cause hormonal imbalances in women, with genetics being the main cause of this syndrome.
PCOS symptoms include acne, weight gain and trouble losing weight, extra hair on the face and body (often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back), thinning hair on the scalp and hair loss, decrease in breast size, irregular periods. Research also shows that women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year while some women have no periods an on the other end, others might experience very heavy bleeding. Many women who have PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility) and experience a high rate of anxiety and depression from body insecurity and shaming and are at higher risks of getting to diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, sleep apnea, endometrial cancer, heart attack and breast cancer
Living with PCOS has been a very daunting as well as intimate experience. It has drawn an accepting bridge between my insecurities and accepting my body positively for what it is. All my life, I have watched my body shapeshift and contort with every new experience gained, and with every age passed. Up until this discovery, I was very nonchalant about my body, binge eating here, and lazying a lot there, but with new revelations come new re-modifications to mindset and lifestyle which I am more than grateful for. Before my return to Nigeria, I was vegan for a year, eating only plant based organic products (and this was before I even found out about the syndrome), and since then my body weight has been pretty svelte, and fit keeping consistent to my yoga practice. Although I still struggle with controlling my sweet tooth, I am more intimate with my body now knowing (even with the knowledge that this can be treated), owning my stories, my struggle, every acne scar and mini moustache along the way.
A year down the line after being diagnosed, I am more interested in being my body’s friend, defying societies dictations of what a woman’s body should look like and be. I stand for my freedom and I am unashamed of my body, taking every day with meticulous love and self care and living with the highest regard for my body at heart. Though it tugs at my heart, the possibility of not bearing children of my own, I can only do my best and leave the rest for God. I know, however, that when the time is right, I will have a battalion of mini me’s and my significant other intwined, strapped to my belt as I prance around in buoyant pride.
cred: www.webmd.com, google images