“I don’t think you have PCOS” is what my doctor told me when I told her that “I think I have PCOS”. PCOS, Polycystic ovary syndrome , is a hormonal disorder causing a lot of bullshit such as enlarged ovaries with cysts, acne, excess hair growth, menstrual irregularity, and obesity.
I was officially diagnosed with PCOS in 2018. I told my doctor that “I have gained a lot of hair and I don’t have periods”. Of course, she didn’t think I had hair and my irregular period was something else. A lot of women with PCOS tend to have more weight, and I am underweight… so in a way, I understand why the doctors didn’t think I had PCOS. And because being an Asian, my hair is considered cute and non-hair. Whenever I talk about my concerns with growing “hair” to doctors, they don’t seem to agree with me. The thing is, it was the HAIR that was the biggest clue I thought I had PCOS in the first place. The only person who knew was my brother. He asked me, “Are you a goat?” when we had lunch together one day. That time, my fine chin hair started to get longer (later turned darker and darker btw). You could see on the below picture — I made the pic bigger to show more clearly.
The other very obvious cause was acne. I used to have near perfect and flawless skin (please see attached picture below). I had puberty-acne when I was 12-13 on my forehead, but it disappeared a few years later. And then I had really great skin. By great skin, people mention it all the time that when they don’t mention it, I felt weird. THAT kind of skin. Although I DID NOT feel like my skin was flawless that time, I guess it was indeed (especially compared to now). My skin was getting more and more sensitive after I hit 25. That time, I was on birth control pill, so I blamed on it a little bit and got a lot of expensive skincare products, although this wasn’t that effective. However, when I turned 26, it became damn serious. This came to me as a shock because I had such MAGICAL skin… the perfect K-Beauty commercial skin, YES! It slowly and gradually became bad, and one day it wasn’t controllable.
I also felt that my boobs were much smaller that my body became more and more like a male physique. I was barely a 32B before I started to have these crazy symptoms, and my bras were feeling bigger and bigger. It’s hard to remember because when things are HAPPENING to you, you ignore it. When things had happened and when you realize something has gone wrong, that’s when you notice things.
I kind of liked the fact that I had no period when I was younger. Every girl was jealous of me. I was always underweight and had no period — I had 2-3 times a year. I ate A LOT and constantly, but I never once had to worry about gaining fat (except some period of time I was on birth control pill, I think was at normal weight). I COULD eat whatever I wanted to eat and literally whenever. However, whenever I had period (before taking BCP), I was in so much pain. I’d be ghostly pale, crawling to my bed, moaning, and sobbing to sleep – moaning because it hurt and crying because I pitied myself. And one more thing about period is that I bled very little. I’d bleed normal “red blood” 1-2 days, but the rest I’d have “brown blood/active spotting” 1-3 days, and “fading spotting” for 1-3 days. So basically, it feels like 4-5 days period.
Anyhow, to sum up, following is what happened:
– I had growing/thickening/lengthening hair all over my body (that’s including my face)
– My acne started to flare up especially around jaw line, very slowly until it completely ruined me
– My boobs got smaller (very sad)
– No periods without birth control pill
When I looked up symptoms of PCOS, these were it. Acne, check. Irregular period, check. Hair growth, check. No obesity, but… again, I felt like I had too much testosterone, which I was right. When my primary doctor ordered me several tests for PCOS, the results showed that I had high testosterone level — more than normal, I think it was 80.
It’s a little confusing for me to look back and deeply think what had happened, because when I “started” struggling with PCOS, I was also diagnosed with porphyria. PCT can make the hair grow as well, although my derm told me as the treatment takes a place it will go away eventually. So I am not sure it’s PCT or PCOS or BOTH that gave me hair problem (although luckily not too noticeable to many people).
After spending lots and lots of time researching how to control my acne and hair problems due to high testosterone level, I had decided to try Spironolactone. I saw many good reviews and pictures of lots of women who had successful and happy experiences. Before taking Spironolactone, I have tried natural ways that didn’t work. Supplements, diet, tea… sadly, didn’t really work, which I’ll talk about it more next time. So, I asked my derm and ob/gyn to prescribe me the med and shared my frustration how I am so sick and tired of my acne and how IMPORTANT it is for me to have my normal skin back, and they OK’d it. I was desperate… seriously. I didn’t care for infertility-related or diabetes-related PCOS concerns or side effects of Spironolactone, no no no. I just wanted to have my skin back.
It’s been 6 months taking Spironolactone and it has been incredible. I’ll come back with Spironolactone story. Here is a little preview:
I am much more happy now