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23 Pictures That Show The Reality Of Living With PCOS

"You learn to ignore the 'expected period' function on tracking apps. Girl don’t play, I have no idea when she’ll show up and neither do you."

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects people who were assigned female at birth, with symptoms that impact periods, fertility, hair growth, weight, and more.

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share pictures of what their life with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is really like. Here are just some pictures that they shared:

1.

It took me over 100 days to get a period and when I finally did it was consistently heavy and lasted 18 days. So many feminine products (which aren’t cheap) I had to buy. —mariahnicolea
buzzfeed.com

It took me over 100 days to get a period and when I finally did it was consistently heavy and lasted 18 days. So many feminine products (which aren’t cheap) I had to buy. —mariahnicolea

2.

Seven-pound cyst that destroyed my fallopian tube when I was 17. That's a six-inch ruler next to it. A rather dramatic way to start the PCOS journey. —ilovetacos39
buzzfeed.com

Seven-pound cyst that destroyed my fallopian tube when I was 17. That's a six-inch ruler next to it. A rather dramatic way to start the PCOS journey. —ilovetacos39

3.

I used to have incredibly thick hair, and now I'm very self-conscious about the thinning PCOS has caused. I think it's important to speak up about this condition since it's not very well understood at this point, and since so many women I know also struggle with it. —chloeg433ac8477
buzzfeed.com

I used to have incredibly thick hair, and now I'm very self-conscious about the thinning PCOS has caused. I think it's important to speak up about this condition since it's not very well understood at this point, and since so many women I know also struggle with it. —chloeg433ac8477

4.

Having both PCOS and sensitive skin, I found that a classic straight razor and good products are what help keep me from becoming the bearded lady and prevent red bumps. —heatherp40c82dcc2
buzzfeed.com

Having both PCOS and sensitive skin, I found that a classic straight razor and good products are what help keep me from becoming the bearded lady and prevent red bumps. —heatherp40c82dcc2

5.

This is a week’s worth of medications that I take to try and get pregnant. Sixteen pills a day, plus an injection. The injection gives me baseball-sized bruises all over my abdomen. —amyl4148b97bd
buzzfeed.com

This is a week’s worth of medications that I take to try and get pregnant. Sixteen pills a day, plus an injection. The injection gives me baseball-sized bruises all over my abdomen. —amyl4148b97bd

6.

My husband and I are trying to get pregnant. The last six months of my life have been testing multiple times a month for my ovulation. That’s not counting the four months before finding the right medication to try to regulate my period. Still waiting. —geebyt
buzzfeed.com

My husband and I are trying to get pregnant. The last six months of my life have been testing multiple times a month for my ovulation. That’s not counting the four months before finding the right medication to try to regulate my period. Still waiting. —geebyt

7.

My mother calls this photo "the miracle." Diagnosed with PCOS at 22 and the major impact was to my fertility. Hubby and I did treatments for two years before our specialists told us they didn't think it was possible for us. Six (birth control-free) years later, we got pregnant out of the blue. —amyd414b0ff8b
buzzfeed.com

My mother calls this photo "the miracle." Diagnosed with PCOS at 22 and the major impact was to my fertility. Hubby and I did treatments for two years before our specialists told us they didn't think it was possible for us. Six (birth control-free) years later, we got pregnant out of the blue. —amyd414b0ff8b

8.

I am going on Day 60. No period. The last one, I was at about 80 days before I got one. When they do come, THEY. ARE. HELL. I suffer monumentally, and hate every single minute of it. I’ve had to call out sick from work on occasion because my cramps are so bad. —helenah402773be0
buzzfeed.com

I am going on Day 60. No period. The last one, I was at about 80 days before I got one. When they do come, THEY. ARE. HELL. I suffer monumentally, and hate every single minute of it. I’ve had to call out sick from work on occasion because my cramps are so bad. —helenah402773be0

9.

It affects almost every aspect of my life, but my least favorite is the weight gain and the horribly painful cysts and periods. I’ve gone through an 80 pound weight gain beginning my senior year of high school and now in my first year out of college. It might be surprising but PCOS has taught me a lot about loving the body I have. I am much more confident and happy now than I ever was then. #plussizeisbeautiful —emilys405016583
buzzfeed.com

It affects almost every aspect of my life, but my least favorite is the weight gain and the horribly painful cysts and periods. I’ve gone through an 80 pound weight gain beginning my senior year of high school and now in my first year out of college. It might be surprising but PCOS has taught me a lot about loving the body I have. I am much more confident and happy now than I ever was then. #plussizeisbeautiful —emilys405016583

10.

First PCOS surgery. Three belly scars later and a belly full of gas and I was better...for a while, anyway. Thank goodness for birth control! Cyst-free since 2015. —kyliejeanw
buzzfeed.com

First PCOS surgery. Three belly scars later and a belly full of gas and I was better...for a while, anyway. Thank goodness for birth control! Cyst-free since 2015. —kyliejeanw

11.

From a cyst, I developed an almost melon-sized "stage 0" ovarian tumor that was discovered during my 20-week ultrasound when I was pregnant. My blood work didn't look promising, so I had to deliver my baby via c-section at 34 weeks so they could remove my ovary ASAP. This picture is about six weeks postop/postpartum.I now have horrifically heavy periods, still irregular, but usually every two weeks. I still get painful cysts. I've been told I now have a polyp(s) due to the thickened endometrium. I keep trying to tell myself I was lucky and I'm okay, but so many of the "ovarian cancer red flags" are just business as usual when you have PCOS. So I can't make myself relax. I'm a "frequent flyer" at my OB/GYN because no one wants to dismiss a possibly concerning symptom. She says she's so close to just recommending a full hysterectomy due to all my high risk and recurring problems. I'm 32. I could possibly be facing surgically-induced menopause before I'm 35. —Meghan H.
Meghan H. / BuzzFeed

From a cyst, I developed an almost melon-sized "stage 0" ovarian tumor that was discovered during my 20-week ultrasound when I was pregnant. My blood work didn't look promising, so I had to deliver my baby via c-section at 34 weeks so they could remove my ovary ASAP. This picture is about six weeks postop/postpartum.

I now have horrifically heavy periods, still irregular, but usually every two weeks. I still get painful cysts. I've been told I now have a polyp(s) due to the thickened endometrium. I keep trying to tell myself I was lucky and I'm okay, but so many of the "ovarian cancer red flags" are just business as usual when you have PCOS. So I can't make myself relax. I'm a "frequent flyer" at my OB/GYN because no one wants to dismiss a possibly concerning symptom. She says she's so close to just recommending a full hysterectomy due to all my high risk and recurring problems. I'm 32. I could possibly be facing surgically-induced menopause before I'm 35. —Meghan H.

12.

For eight years, I bounced from doctor to doctor trying to figure out why I couldn't lose weight, why I couldn't get my period, why my blood sugar was so out of control, and why everything I ate made me sick. It took my insulin levels getting so bad I started developing hyperpigmentation of the skin for a doctor to take me seriously and test me for PCOS. This is what I have to take to control my PCOS symptoms. —erind420ddc5e9
buzzfeed.com

For eight years, I bounced from doctor to doctor trying to figure out why I couldn't lose weight, why I couldn't get my period, why my blood sugar was so out of control, and why everything I ate made me sick. It took my insulin levels getting so bad I started developing hyperpigmentation of the skin for a doctor to take me seriously and test me for PCOS. This is what I have to take to control my PCOS symptoms. —erind420ddc5e9

13.

Beard (that my boyfriend so sweetly reminds me to shave), acne at 31, and double chin due to insulin resistance. —katieq4c8fab8b3
buzzfeed.com

Beard (that my boyfriend so sweetly reminds me to shave), acne at 31, and double chin due to insulin resistance. —katieq4c8fab8b3

14.

Five years trying. Five years of negative test. Hundreds of dollars spent. All just to hopefully have a child of my own. —laurenhammatt
buzzfeed.com

Five years trying. Five years of negative test. Hundreds of dollars spent. All just to hopefully have a child of my own. —laurenhammatt

15.

This is from the iron infusion I have to have due to my anemia from PCOS. My periods can last literally months and have made me anemic more than once. I am currently seeing three different doctors to try and get it all under control. —bookgirl1983
buzzfeed.com

This is from the iron infusion I have to have due to my anemia from PCOS. My periods can last literally months and have made me anemic more than once. I am currently seeing three different doctors to try and get it all under control. —bookgirl1983

16.

I’ve had symptoms of PCOS since I was 12. I’ve been overweight, had excess hair, and irregular periods (two or three a year!) among other things. I got diagnosed this year officially and decided it was time to change. I have been going to the gym almost everyday, cut out most dairy, all white carbs, and most sugars. It’s been a struggle giving up my favorite yummy foods but for my health I’ll do anything. I’ve lost 20 pounds and feel great! If you’re struggling: I understand, and it gets better. —hannag4a830164a
buzzfeed.com

I’ve had symptoms of PCOS since I was 12. I’ve been overweight, had excess hair, and irregular periods (two or three a year!) among other things. I got diagnosed this year officially and decided it was time to change. I have been going to the gym almost everyday, cut out most dairy, all white carbs, and most sugars. It’s been a struggle giving up my favorite yummy foods but for my health I’ll do anything. I’ve lost 20 pounds and feel great! If you’re struggling: I understand, and it gets better. —hannag4a830164a

17.

I wasn't diagnosed with PCOS until, after trying to conceive for years, we finally got referred to a specialist. We were told that our best option was IVF with ICSI (where they inject sperm directly into the egg, instead of just putting the egg and some sperm in a petri dish and hoping for the best), since my husband also has fertility problems. Here is the amazing little boy that we were able to have, with the help of the wonderful doctor and staff at our fertility clinic. —reikoko
buzzfeed.com

I wasn't diagnosed with PCOS until, after trying to conceive for years, we finally got referred to a specialist. We were told that our best option was IVF with ICSI (where they inject sperm directly into the egg, instead of just putting the egg and some sperm in a petri dish and hoping for the best), since my husband also has fertility problems. Here is the amazing little boy that we were able to have, with the help of the wonderful doctor and staff at our fertility clinic. —reikoko

18.

I have PCOS with ovarian cysts that burst on a monthly basis. When this happens, I experience excruciating pain that only goes away with high-dose pain relievers. I can't drive, work, or even eat when I take my pain meds. This picture shows my cutie German Shepherd puppy keeping me company while I'm drugged up in bed. —hannahs4374641ca
buzzfeed.com

I have PCOS with ovarian cysts that burst on a monthly basis. When this happens, I experience excruciating pain that only goes away with high-dose pain relievers. I can't drive, work, or even eat when I take my pain meds. This picture shows my cutie German Shepherd puppy keeping me company while I'm drugged up in bed. —hannahs4374641ca

19.

Here's a really good shot of the hair growth and acne on my chin. I was diagnosed in November of 2017 at age 18. My doctor explained to me all of the things PCOS can do to you but I guess it really hasn't sunk in. When you're 18 years old you're not really thinking about fertility problems until you get out of college and try to start a family. For now, it's about me on my journey to losing weight and become healthier. —gabbyo43f949b76
buzzfeed.com

Here's a really good shot of the hair growth and acne on my chin. I was diagnosed in November of 2017 at age 18. My doctor explained to me all of the things PCOS can do to you but I guess it really hasn't sunk in. When you're 18 years old you're not really thinking about fertility problems until you get out of college and try to start a family. For now, it's about me on my journey to losing weight and become healthier. —gabbyo43f949b76

20.

I found out I had PCOS at 15 after my skin started breaking out like crazy and I started getting little hairs on my stomach and face. She told me I had to change my birth control, take Androcur for six months, apply acid on my face twice a day and basically bathe in sunscreen, so that's what I did! It helped a lot, but my skin only started improving dramatically after I started using the products above. —gabyz421e53bab
buzzfeed.com

I found out I had PCOS at 15 after my skin started breaking out like crazy and I started getting little hairs on my stomach and face. She told me I had to change my birth control, take Androcur for six months, apply acid on my face twice a day and basically bathe in sunscreen, so that's what I did! It helped a lot, but my skin only started improving dramatically after I started using the products above. —gabyz421e53bab

21.

I am currently three days postop. A ten centimeter cyst on my ovary had twisted, cutting off blood flow to my right ovary. After screaming and sobbing for 20 straight hours, and one emergency surgery later, this is what PCOS looks like for me. I am bloated, sore, and grateful the initial pain is over. —bertlebee
buzzfeed.com

I am currently three days postop. A ten centimeter cyst on my ovary had twisted, cutting off blood flow to my right ovary. After screaming and sobbing for 20 straight hours, and one emergency surgery later, this is what PCOS looks like for me. I am bloated, sore, and grateful the initial pain is over. —bertlebee

22.

This is a picture of everything my doctor used yesterday to insert my IUD. Since I can’t take oral birth control, this is the only way to (hopefully) ensure that I ovulate regularly so that the lining of my uterus remains thin and polyps won’t form. I’ve had to have two procedures to remove uterine polyps in the last 12 months as a result of my PCOS. —micahm42943b2be
buzzfeed.com

This is a picture of everything my doctor used yesterday to insert my IUD. Since I can’t take oral birth control, this is the only way to (hopefully) ensure that I ovulate regularly so that the lining of my uterus remains thin and polyps won’t form. I’ve had to have two procedures to remove uterine polyps in the last 12 months as a result of my PCOS. —micahm42943b2be

23.

Learning to ignore the “expected period” function on tracking apps. Girl don’t play, I have no idea when she’ll show up and neither do you. —155jej
buzzfeed.com

Learning to ignore the “expected period” function on tracking apps. Girl don’t play, I have no idea when she’ll show up and neither do you. —155jej

To learn more about PCOS, check out the resources at the Mayo Clinic or the PCOS Awareness Association.

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