Sex Education Series: how having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome affects more than just the menstrual cycle

A weekly series on the stigma surrounding sex and sexual health

[this is a snippet from my column on Medium.]

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When I first started my period, I was nine years old. It disappeared for months after that first time, and in all the years following, I can’t ever accurately tell you what day I will actually be on it. Since I started puberty, I have suffered with moderately severe depression and severe anxiety, as well as more body hair and back acne (aka bacne) — the latter two having brutally impacted my self-esteem and body image.

I remember in school, some boys telling me I was ugly and mocking me for having a girl-stache, resulting in me shaving it with an actual razor (not a good idea) and then deciding to remove the rest of my body hair, out of shame.

It took years of dealing with irregular periods, poor mental health and mocking comments on my body until I was diagnosed with an illness I never even heard of, when I was fifteen or sixteen years old. I’d been on my period for a month and was referred to a gynaecologist who did an ultrasound. He told me I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and sent me back to my GP, who prescribed me birth control pills. I was sent on my way. No support, no further information.

According to the NHS website, 1 in 10 women suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) — but a few short weeks ago, when I spoke to a gynaecologist, I was told the number was actually 1 in 3 women. An estimated 70% of sufferers are currently undiagnosed. There is no treatment or cure for PCOS, so for many of us, we are made to deal with it on our own. The debilitating, painful and upsetting symptoms of PCOS range from irregular periods to constant fatigue and exhaustion.

Continue reading on Medium . . .

Things I’ve written recently:

How Do You Get Over An Ex?
Heal, Dammit, Heal
Book Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas
Sex Education Series: Consent Is Sexy
The Relationship Between Food And PCOS: What You Need To Know
7 Of The Best Mocktail Recipes, For Anyone Who Doesn’t Drink (Or Just Doesn’t Want To)
The Strangeness Of Bad News
I Spent 2 Nights At The Hospital After Having Sex For The First Time

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Published by Sumaiya Ahmed

Sumaiya Ahmed is a Muslim student, poet and freelance features journalist, aiming to break down the boundaries of cultural stigma and shame attached to mental health and sexuality within the South Asian culture, and bringing marginalised topics to light.

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