COLUMN: Living with PCOS


Ellen Dooley, Columnist

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a condition that is not very talked about. But thanks to growing internet advocates, PCOS has become a more common topic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “PCOS affects about 6-12 percent of women living in the United States, about five million people. 

PCOS symptoms can be disguised as some abnormality during the wonderful life event known as puberty. My symptoms were irregular menstrual cycles, acne, and weight gain. But in my family history there were symptoms of infertility, cysts on ovaries, and those common symptoms I had. Things that seem common growing up, right? Well, my story is a little different. 

I always knew I had a history of PCOS in my family. That being said, PCOS is mostly inherited, but not always. So, I was aware of the possibility that one day I may inherit PCOS. I was 16 when I first noticed something was off. My symptoms became more apparent when I gained some quarantine weight. I had always been a little scrawny as a teenager, but I developed some binge eating habits during lockdown.

As a 16-year-old, this is not the most self-esteem boosting. My developing PCOS had almost been triggered by this unhealthy weight gain. It was hidden under my active lifestyle that seemed to suppress all these symptoms. So, I started to learn what I could do to not rid myself of this condition but manage.

I did bloodwork to see where my body was at. Hormones are a big part of PCOS. Testosterone can and usually is higher in those who develop PCOS. I saw where my hormones were and started a baseline. Making my doctor aware of this was extremely helpful. With the awareness of my family history, current symptoms, and overall concerns, she was able to give me options as well as watch for red flags in future visits that would suggest the worsening condition.

One big thing to manage is losing weight. It seems losing weight is always the answer. Breaking my habits of lockdown where I spent hours on hours lying in bed, snacking, and playing hours of Animal Crossing was going to be hard. But- I knew I needed to help with the symptoms I was having. 

Since then, I still deal with PCOS symptoms daily and getting healthier on my own terms is always on my radar. I have gotten better, and my symptoms have become more manageable. But, if I did not know of my condition from my family, I would have never known about PCOS. Informing young women is so particularly important to help the next generation to become more knowledgeable and to erase the taboo of what PCOS is.

Ellen Dooley is a Sophomore Special Education Standard Major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]