I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook when I came across an article about a principal at a college in India. The article, which can be found here, talks about Swati Deshpande, principal of the Government Polytechnic College in Mumbai, India, who believes that the way women dress affects their reproductive health as well their as a desire to have children.
Saying that dressing in a masculine way makes a woman less likely to want kids is absurd in many ways. The part that irked me most, however, was where she was quoted saying that women are more likely to developed Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) if they didn’t dress in a feminine manner.
As someone who has PCOS, I am shocked by the sheer ignorance of this statement. But at the same time, it also kind of makes me sad to realize how little people know about the reproductive disorder.
So, as someone who is as girly as one can get, but still has PCOS, let’s talk about it a little bit.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal disorder found in women, which is caused by small cysts formed on the ovaries. It cannot be cured, only treated. In the United States, there are almost 200,000 cases of PCOS each year; it is an issue that is very common but not talked about enough.
While it is still a mystery as to what causes PCOS, one belief is that it is a genetic disorder; a mother with PCOS is more likely to pass it on to her daughters.
While some people can have PCOS without realizing it at all, oftentimes, there are many symptoms. Contrary to the name of the disorder as well as the belief, not every woman with PCOS has cystic ovaries. However, some of the most common side effects are high levels of testosterone, hirsutism (excessive body hair), increased acne, weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, higher risk of heart disease and diabetes (the latter being a result of insulin resistance that is caused by PCOS), and last but not least, the main issue, infertility.
PCOS is the leading cause of infertility. Women with PCOS are unlikely to ovulate correctly each month unless they are put on treatment. Often, they are put on birth control pills to regulate menstrual cycles (and this is one of the main reasons why birth control is such an important necessity, but that’s a whole other story).
There are a lot of things about PCOS that remain unknown, even to doctors, but it can be dangerous if not treated properly. It is vital that women learn about PCOS, that they get tested for it, and, if necessary, get treatment. Not only does it affect pregnancy, but it can lead to bigger things, such as an early death caused by high cholesterol or heart disease.
It’s time that we start talking about PCOS and raise awareness on top of it, and more so, it is time that we stop making ignorant comments about what causes PCOS, and instead, start talking about how we can help women who have been diagnosed with it.