PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is one of the most frustrating conditions a woman can have. While it's not anything like a terminal illness, it does mess with your hormones and can affect your ability to conceive. It's also taxing on a woman's mental, physical and emotional state. Thankfully, there are few things every grown-ass man understands about PCOS and the experiences his partner will go through if she has it, experiences like; messed-up menstrual cycles, hormonal flare-ups, painful ovarian cysts and things like acne and weight gain. None of it is fun and all of it interferes with life at the absolute worst times.
When I was diagnosed with PCOS, I lived with the pain of irregular menstrual cycles and cysts for many years. Part of me was afraid to go to the doctor, the other part knew something just wasn't right and I needed to be seen. I put off scheduling an appointment with my gynecologist until my cycles became too unpredictable and painful. My doctor scheduled an ultrasound and found not one but many benign cysts that needed to be removed. It was explained to me at that moment in time that, no matter how many times those cysts would or could be removed, they'd eventually grow back. Unfortunately, this is just one part of having PCOS. It's emotionally draining and physically frustrating, all at the same time. I was put on birth control to somewhat help (though not entirely) regulate things and until I had my first child a couple years later, I simply learned to live with the symptoms.
A couple years after the birth of my youngest, I developed a fairly large cyst on my right ovary. Walking was painful, sitting was painful — basically everything I did was painful. I had surgery to remove my ovary, though it came at the price of fluctuating hormones and at a rate and intensity I had never experienced before. Even now, as I often have pain in my remaining ovary, I've gotten used to life with the dull nagging sting (because losing my second ovary may mean being on hormone replacement the rest of my life). I'm 34 years old so naturally, I'd like to keep those parts if at all possible.
In going through this all these years, my partner has been educated many times over on my body and how it works and what it means to have PCOS. With that said, here are a few things every grown-ass man (like my partner) understands when his partner is going through something he will never experience for himself.
Menstrual Cycles Will Always Be A Surprise
When you least expect it, bam. Here comes your period. It doesn't matter if you had plans or just had a period because when you have PCOS, your body is in control of you and not the other way around.
In other words, I hope you weren't planning on wearing white today, tomorrow, or a week from Thursday.
Menstrual Cycles Might Last A Really Long Time
One of the worst symptoms of PCOS isn't only the pain but the fact that a period can last (what feels like) a lifetime. I once had a spell the equivalent of an entire summer and, yes, it was as awful as it sounds.
His Partner Will Break Out, And Regularly
Will there ever be a time I don't break out? The answer, I fear, is no. My partner accepts me — all of me — so even when I'm makeup-free and my face is all but flawless, I'm still confident in his view of me.
Still, it's a really annoying situation to deal with every day I wake up.
Sometimes, Acne Will Show Up In Weird Places
Thanks to PCOS, I have no control of where my acne decides to pop up. Could be my back, could be my shoulders, could be my chest; I'll never really know until something makes an appearance.
No matter where I find those damn pimples, they're sure to make their presence known (thanks a lot, by the way).
It's Difficult To Lose Weight...
Thanks to childbirth, I will always have a little pouch on my stomach and, thanks to PCOS, I'll always have the little rolls around it.
I've tried all the things — like running and lifting weights and crunches and seriously, you name it — but no matter what I do, there are places on my body that will not budge. My partner understands and doesn't hold me or my body to some ridiculous standard of beauty and I've accepted my body for everything it is. In other words, we're OK.
...Except In Your Breasts
There's always one caveat when losing weight (even if you're not trying to) and that's in whatever weight you lose, it seems to melt off all the wrong places first. Why?
Bust size has never been a big topic in my relationship or in regard to my self-esteem, but still. PCOS has taken so many things, so why can't it just leave my breasts and bra size alone?
Sex Isn't An Option When You're In Pain
If you have PCOS, or your partner has had it, you know that agonizing pain that leaves you utterly useless. Grown-ass men understand when their partner feels like sludge or is uncomfortable, there's no reasons to bring up sex. Honestly, getting intimate is the absolute last thing on the mind of any woman dealing with cramps. Promise.
Sometimes, Thanks To Hormones, Sex Isn't An Option At All
There's just so much going on within the body of someone living with PCOS. Some days, it feels like it's too much and maybe you'd rather flop onto the couch with whatever snack you feel like eating and watch whatever mindless show you want because the hormones make you feel like you're just not yourself.
If your partner is a grown-ass man, he'll totally let you do your thing in peace. He won't try to guilt you into having sex (for any reasons, ever, because consent) and he won't take it personal when you're not in the mood.
His Partner Might Struggle With Fertility And, As A Result, Feel Insecure...
Even if you don't always talk about it, PCOS can affect your ability to get pregnant.
When I was diagnosed, it hadn't occurred to me that PCOS was getting in the way of my partner and I making a baby. It wasn't until my doctor began to introduce the conversation of IVF it really hit me how serious PCOS is and, honestly, it scared me. Would I never have another baby because of this condition? For a long time, I feared having this talk with my partner about it and was essentially afraid that he wouldn't understand. Guess what? He totally did, just as any grown-ass man would.
...But That Insecurity Doesn't Necessarily Mean His Partner Wants To Have Children
Knowing this disorder can change the way you think about becoming a parent and actually wanting to be a parent are two different things. For me, the obstacle itself felt overwhelming enough and while I knew I did want to bear children, I knew there was a large possibility that my body had other plans. This is a topic heavily discussed between those with PCOS and the grown-ass men who are partnered with them.
Having PCOS has changed my outlook on so many things: my health, fertility, parenting, how I feel about my partner, self-esteem, body image, and whether or not the pain associated with it can ever get that much better. I may not have it all figured out just yet, but having a grown-ass man who understands and is relentlessly by my side? Yeah, that certainly doesn't hurt.