The Malta Independent 25 May 2020, Monday

Is PCOS the secret ‘Thief of Womanhood’?

Tuesday, 7 April 2020, 08:58 Last update: about 3 months ago

Maria Magri LEAD Participant

Every girl remembers their menarche period. My college years brought with them fluctuating weight, mood swings and anxiety. I began replacing meals with coffee. I was on a never-ending quest to be prettier and thinner. But no matter what I did, my attempts only made matters worse. During my teenage years I thought all these symptoms were part of growing up, of being a woman. I had resigned to putting up with them for the rest of my life, but I sought help from my gynaecologist, hoping for answers. After some blood work and other tests, it was confirmed that I had PCOS. 

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Studies show that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that affects the metabolism and hormones and mental health, thus impacts the quality of life that the patient lives. PCOS is the most common condition that causes infertility in women. According to the National Insitutes of Health, 75% of women with PCOS suffer from infertility. Regular menstruation and the capacity to bear children are mostly associated with femininity, and as a result of these symptoms women express feeling ‘different’ from other women and less ‘feminine’.

Although the physical symptoms of PCOS are increasingly recognized by practitioners, little attention is being focused on the psychological aspects of this condition. Medical and psychological studies indicate that the condition of PCOS is associated with various mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. I truly believe that there is a lack of information regarding this condition, its challenges, how a woman should face it and what can she do to feel better. What does it lead to if it is not taken care of? Support groups, especially online based groups should be introduced. Testing services should be available at health centres, together with psychological help. This condition is deemed as a chronic one. The basic treatment of controlling this condition is by changing the way you live and taking specific medication, which I believe should be given free to the patients.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a deeply stigmatising condition, ‘a theft of womanhood’, with far reaching implications for all women, whether or not they conform to ‘feminine’ norms.

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