Adding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome to My Health Issues
As I leave the endocrinologist’s office, I feel frustrated. I have been living with endometriosis since I was 14 years old. That marks an almost 20-year-long battle.
Despite this, I just received a new diagnosis. I cannot help but wonder how many years I have gone undiagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS.
My mom struggled with endometriosis. She managed to still have my sister and me early on in her life. Despite this, the endometriosis and scar tissue made a mess out of her organs when she had a hysterectomy.
Part of my frustration with this late diagnosis is due to a family history of PCOS. My sister was diagnosed with it in her early 20s.
This is a diagnosis I have always let my doctors know about. Unfortunately, none of my doctors have paid this family tie much attention.
PCOS and your weight
There is a large misconception that if you live with PCOS, you must be overweight. Many doctors I have seen did not consider all the other aspects of PCOS simply because I am not overweight.
While there is some disagreement in the medical community over the level of insulin resistance experienced by lean or underweight individuals with PCOS, they appear to still have higher levels of insulin in their blood than their lean or underweight non-PCOS counterparts.1
Hair growth issues
One of the biggest issues that I deal with is unwanted hair growth. For the longest time, I assumed this was due to my grandfather being Native American. This symptom is one of the first things the endocrinologist noticed.
I have dark hair that grows on my arms and my face. Even with waxing, unwanted hair comes back quickly. My doctor suggested laser hair removal as a permanent solution. Unfortunately, laser hair removal is not a treatment plan currently in my budget.
In addition to the unwanted hair growth, I also deal with a lot of hair shedding from the hair on my head. This has been annoying because I keep my hair on the longer side. I am constantly pulling hair out of the shower drain and out of my hairbrush.
Finasteride is a prescription medication used to decrease unwanted hair growth and the shedding of hair from your head. This is achieved by blocking androgens. When androgens are blocked, new hair growth is reduced in unwanted areas.
I have struggled with acne all of my life. I even saw a dermatologist for a while, but none of the treatments provided lasting relief. At one point, they even had me taking an antibiotic nonstop. I am in my 30s and still keep acne face products on hand.
This bad acne is something that has affected my self-esteem for years. I only wear makeup on special occasions because it can irritate my skin. This is a very frustrating issue for me.
Thoughts on my diagnosis
As frustrating as it may be to receive the PCOS diagnosis in my 30s, I am glad to have it finally. So many of my symptoms and issues make more sense now that I do not just have endometriosis.
I am hopeful that with new medications, things will start to improve for me.
Have you received diagnoses later in life? Do you suffer from PCOS as well as endometriosis? Have you seen an endocrinologist?
Do you ever experience urinary incontinence?