Receiving the news that you have PCOS can be shocking because not everyone talks about this condition, as women often internalize shame around it, and there isn’t a known cause. PCOS can bring on a myriad of symptoms that exist on a spectrum. For example, a woman can experience missed periods, cystic acne on her back and face, excessive hair growth on her face, arms, and legs, and sometimes hair loss. Women can also experience excessive weight gain, and can become pre-diabetic. Finally, women with PCOS are more likely to experience fertility issues as well. For more information about how this condition can affect fertility, please visit: http://www.resolve.org/about-infertility/medical-conditions/polycystic-ovarian-syndrome.html
The experience of receiving such a diagnosis can be overwhelming to say the least. Women are not only left with making decisions about their health and fertility, but are also having to process how they will care for themselves in the interim. Such a diagnosis can also have an impact on a woman’s self esteem due to others being insensitive to their outward appearance. With that, how can a woman take charge of her health? Here are some suggestions.
Step One: Reach out for support. There are mental health providers who specialize in women’s issues, and are happy to support you through your journey. It’s important to have a space where you can learn to have a healthy relationship with your body, and feel that you are in control of your symptoms. Speaking to a mental health professional can help you to become more aware of your physical and emotional symptoms.
Step Two: Write down all of your questions. Oftentimes, women take too much responsibility for their care by doing their own research and not wanting to “bother” their doctor with questions either because they have felt rushed or feel embarrassed about not knowing enough about their condition. My response to that is: there is no such thing as a dumb question, and you have the right as a patient to inform yourself because knowledge is power.
Step Three: Be kind to yourself. So many studies have shown us time and time again that stress has an impact on our endocrine system. Therefore, take time for self-care. Notice which relationships in your life make you feel good about yourself and nurture them. Take time to exercise, meditate, and eat for your wellness. Our minds and bodies are connected. Take the time to relate to yourself and listen to your body. It will thank you.
About the Author
Dr. Cristina Dorazio is a New York State licensed psychologist and owner of her private practice, Unity Psychological Consulting, PLLC. She earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University and her specialties include: women’s reproductive health, couples counseling, mindfulness, and career coaching. You can find more information about her practice at: www.unitypsych.org.