Since my first period at 12 years old, my cycles were irregular and very painful. When I turned 20, and without much explanation, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). What came next will be a familiar experience for many women. I visited many different doctors trying to get a proper diagnosis and treatment, but heard the same from all of them: to treat my condition I had to take the birth control pill.
While I was on the pill, the cysts in my ovaries vanished almost entirely, and I would bleed every month, so I assumed that my cycle was regular and I was on the right path. Little did I know that the birth control pill works by inhibiting the reproductive system — those monthly bleedings were nothing close to a normal period! Then five years later, I started experiencing mid-cycle heavy bleedings for several days, pain and other complications, so I decided to stop it. Within a couple of months, the old symptoms came back, but this time with more intensity: my face became covered with acne and hirsutism, I gained considerable weight, and I didn’t have my period for over a year. A new ultrasound showed my ovaries were full of cysts again, and for the first time, I heard a gynecologist say that PCOS is a lifetime condition (what?! I thought I had already healed!). As usual, the only choice she offered was to take the pill.