PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a condition that affects the ovaries and is very common, affecting roughly 6-10% of all women. Every year, September is PCOS Awareness Month and we caught up with Mia Rikas, also known on Instagram as @mumwithoutamum, on her personal experience with PCOS, the symptoms she experienced and her family life.
What is PCOS and how has this affected you?
PCOS is basically an imbalance of hormones. There’s an increase of the male hormone, believed to be high levels of androgens. A lot of people can say and most experts say it can be a genetic inheritance so a lot of females that do suffer from PCOS find that it’s kind of common with women in their family as well. I’m assuming it was straight down the line in my family with my mum and one of my mum’s sisters. I’m assuming my mum had it too but it’s hard to tell. It can have a massive effect on you in regards to weight gain, acne, additional hair growth, as well as hair loss, so there are quite a few effects and it can massively impact infertility as well.
So there’s quite a varying range of symptoms?
I think that’s why it can be quite difficult to diagnose because sometimes a women can have hair loss and might not know why and it might not be a massive symptom but then another women might have hair growth. It’s just one of those things where you have to listen to your body and the symptoms that you’re having and speak to your GP. The main thing for me was irregular periods. Knowing it’s so common to have a period every month but for me that is not case, I’ve never had a period every month, I’ve never ovulated every month. That was the main trigger for me.
What was the first symptom that led you to seek medical attention?
You see and hear all of your friends having their periods every month and meeting up with them as a young girl, them having their symptoms every month and for me, I was realising my periods weren’t every month, they were coming every few months. My mum passed away when I was 11 so it was already an awkward thing for me to talk about with my dad when I told him I’d started my period, let alone then saying “I don’t think something’s right” so irregular periods for me was the main symptom that led me to book an appointment with my GP. I also had additional hair growth. You can get it in different places on your body but it can be on your abdomen or your face, again another symptom for me. That was when the GP recommended that I be referred to the hospital to see a gynaecologist.
Was this after this encounter that you were diagnosed with PCOS?
The doctor did suspect that I have PCOS from me describing my symptoms anyway but he said it would be for the best if I went to the hospital for a scan to confirm that he had diagnosed me correctly. It was quite daunting at a young age and I didn’t know exactly what it meant. He also mentioned it could be difficult in the future to have children and I think as a young girl, and even more so if you find out later as a women when you hear the words “it might be difficult to have children”, that just stands out and it’s very worrying. That’s what I’ve heard from a lot of people that I’ve spoken to as well is the infertility side of things. It is such a worry and that’s why I think it’s so important to raise awareness, as everyone is different. Everyone’s body is different so you never know. A lot of the time with PCOS, it doesn’t mean that you can’t necessarily have children; it just means that it might be a little bit more difficult…
The full interview continues over on our podcast, you can tune into the episode with Mia here.
To read more on PCOS Awareness and how you can get involved, please click here.