PCOS and ME

Dr Felice Gersh
Jan 5, 2018 · 3 min read

I was already in my thirties when I self-diagnosed PCOS. In hindsight, that late revelation seems improbable, considering I was actually an obstetrician/gynecologist, and manifested most of the classic symptoms since a teen. I had even consulted with other renowned specialists while in medical school, looking for advice and a diagnosis. All I ever received was a shrug and advice to go on oral contraceptives.

It was very frustrating and distressing for me, throughout my teens and early twenties, to have severe acne, but no diagnosis and no efficacious treatment. I later endured stressful fertility treatments to achieve my first pregnancy — all the while I had no clear diagnosis. I remember the moment when I realized what was wrong with me — I was looking in the mirror and thought to myself, “What? Another pimple?” and then it hit me — I had PCOS! Because I was thin, that diagnosis was overlooked entirely!

Knowing the name of the condition I suffered with was beneficial, but the only treatment for PCOS was birth control pills, so it seemed that with or without the diagnostic label, I was still left with little to choose from for therapy. There had been very little research into the causes of the disease, and even less research into treatment. But now, for the first time, I feel hope that PCOS will be seen for what it is, the most common endocrine disorder in women, and the purveyor of great sadness and of medical complications upon the lives it envelopes.

The US Senate unanimously approved the resolution sponsored by PCOSChallenge, promoting the cause of PCOS through research, open acknowledgement of its prevalence, and promotion of September as ‘PCOS Awareness Month’. I am very hopeful that after the passage of this resolution by the House, more recognition of PCOS will occur, seeing it as a serious medical condition, and subsequently the result will be more funding for research. It’s nice for such huge amounts money to go towards research to treat aging skin and balding, these issues are largely cosmetic, whilst PCOS has hugely detrimental effects on the lives of its victims!

The first step on any journey is recognition and understanding. One must acknowledge the magnitude of the issues involved, develop clear goals, and devise a definitive plan of action. With this resolution, the challenging journey for women with PCOS to find support and care can be accomplished. For the community of women with PCOS (my community!) there hopefully will soon be the legislated support, financial commitment, and emotional validation which is needed, to foster, to fund, and to encourage research so as to find better treatments to ameliorate the symptoms and resolve the underlying defects. Women with PCOS, stand tall and proud of your accomplishments and have hope for a future never before even imagined, one in which PCOS takes center stage for all to learn about, and to care about.

Dr Felice Gersh

Written by

Obstetrician/gynecologist and founder of Integrative Medical Group of Irvine. Author of PCOS SOS. Find her on Twitter at @DrFeliceGersh.