I discovered I had PCOS at a very young age. I distinctly remember being in elementary school and being extremely hairy, like all over. My mother would simply say that I was born that way, she would make a joke saying she asked the doctor if she gave birth to a monkey because of how hairy I was. As I began to shift into early puberty in late elementary school my body was even hairier than before. I distinctly remember a girl at school asking me how I had hair on my stomach and that her dad had it too. I had hair on my arms, hands, feet, and legs.
I remember being so embarrassed by it that I began to shave that part of my stomach, a terrible idea because it is a mess now. Then I started to get a few stray hairs on my neck or chin, then my upper lip but not like the other kids with it. Yet again, I just thought this was how my body was made.
When I was younger, I would occasionally skim through magazines, one of which being Seventeen Magazine. One of my favorite sections to read was the Q&A section, where most teenage girls would write questions about various things about being a teenage girl and someone at the magazine would answer. Maybe my curious nature made this section my favorite but lo and behold, that section of the magazine would change my life forever.
In the late 90s, I read about a girl who seemed to be like me. She had crazy hair growth on her body and irregular periods. At this time, I had my first period but the rest of my periods just showed up whenever never on a schedule. The answer was that she should talk to her doctor about possibly having something called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
I showed my mother and too much of my surprise, she was just as interested and curious as I was. So, she made a doctors appointment, I showed them the magazine and then boom, I was getting blood work. My results came back that I had PCOS. At this time, in middle school, they recommended that I take birth control, IN MIDDLE SCHOOL. Then, I began old school electrolysis.
As I got older I continued to take the birth control but the hair on my face got WORSE. I was almost able to grow a full beard, a light one at least. I was going to laser hair removal by high school but I am Black. It was hard to find a place that had lasers that were good for Black skin. On top of a normal teenage girl’s life, school, and sports, I also had to figure out my sexuality and whatever was happening to my body. At the time I was only dealing with unwanted hair growth and irregular periods.
I felt like I was the only person who had PCOS. Although it was discovered in 1935, it felt like just me. I felt alone and that no one understood. The internet was not the place it is now and doctors only treated it with birth control. So my PCOS story began here.
I have never written about it, I don’t talk to many about it but I believe there are more and more women like me and even young girls like I was who are Black and experiencing this change in their body without the support or information they need. I have seen a number of websites dedicated to PCOS, some even charge you for meal plans or other things but none of them are Black. None of them have had PCOS for over 20 years as I have. I am here to be your support system because you shouldn’t have to do this alone.
I will be making it a point to talk more about PCOS, the supplements, the research, and anything related.