It’s PCOS Awareness Month this September – unfortunately, as far as PCOS goes, I’m aware. My ovaries have been displaying boundless enthusiasm since I was a teenager, and I’ve been battling PCOS systems (including weight gain, hirsuitism and the always-fun acne) for most of my menstruating life. I’m not going to sugar-coat it – it sucks.
However, I’ve been able to find things to help me manage my symptoms and get ahead of my ovaries. Everything on this list (where applicable) I have bought with my own money. Some are new discoveries, some are old friends, but I wholeheartedly recommend giving them a whirl to help out. Obviously, this is no substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you have PCOS, go to the doctor (and if you’re feeling that they don’t take you seriously, feel free to get a second opinion).
Clue Period Tracking App
Back in the bad old days, I tracked my cycle in an Excel spreadsheet, which was complicated, boring and terrible for traveling. I tried colour-coding, short-forms, symbols – and none of it worked, because the truth of the matter is that I’d rather spend my evenings catching up on Orange Is The New Black instead of diarizing my cycle symptoms. In short, my fancy spreadsheet was about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
I finally converted to a period tracking app after reading about Clue. I was attracted to the clean interface, the highly-customizable tracking system, and the fact that it wasn’t pink. I also love how it tracks patterns over the previous few periods – great for updating your GP on how things are going at a checkup. I also can quickly update it while on the bus or waiting in line, meaning I’m going to those appointments with useful data.
A Gym Membership
So, turns out if you go to the gym with the idea of having some energizing exercise and not hating on yourself – it’s not so bad. (Still not going on the Stairmaster.)
I’m still not addicted to kettlebells, but going to the gym and being active has been transformative for me and my ovaries. Not only does it help me battle anxiety, it’s also made my bloodwork better and better. Plus, being strong is super-helpful. I open stuck pickle jars and feel like Jessica Jones. It’s a good thing.
I hate surprises. Unfortunately, my period LOVES them. Weird spotting, random starting and stopping – I’ve seen it all. How to deal with the tide coming in unexpectedly? My new go-to strategy is tucking a Performa Liner into my wallet, my gym bag and the top drawer of my desk. I’m all set – the Performa Liner is leakproof and ultra-wicking, giving me enough coverage until I can get a comfy pair of Luna Undies on the situation.
So, I thought this was some woo when I first heard it. I was getting a facial (self-care, folks) during A Big Breakout and my facialist recommended spearmint tea to help balance androgens. Vancouver is a super-rainy and cold place to be in the winter, so I got really into minty goodness.
After about three weeks of three cups a day, I started feeling a lot better, my skin cleared up, and it pretty much stayed that way. It’s all over the Internet and in Teen Vogue, so I’m not the only outlier. Plus, you have super-fresh breath. Worth a shot, no?
A Sense Of Humor and A Thick Skin
Fundamentally, the one of the best things you can do for yourself is take care of yourself, and take things less seriously. PCOS is weird. You feel crappy, your period is starting for no good reason and you are growing a beard. It’s not easy to get others to understand what you’re going through.
Think of Instagram star Harnaam Kaur and her babely beard. She told the Guardian that her core principle is “my body, my rules’. If keeping your hair makes you uncomfortable or depressed, then get rid of it; otherwise, if you’ve got it, rock it.”
Remember, you’re awesome.