Last year I wrote a zine called Joining the Dots all about my adventures with PCOS. My zine is queer and body positive. you can get it here.
PCOS is polycystic ovary syndrome. affects 1 in 10 people born with ovaries and is more frequent amongst trans*men.
It's August, which means it's Armpits 4 August,'a month long charity event for women and everyone with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome which started in August 2012.' Armpits 4 August raises money for Verity, the UK charity for PCOS, by asking participants to get sponsored for growing their armpit hair. The good things about this are that it gets people talking about PCOS and helps share information, as well as promoting Verity.
However I wish there were a better way for raising money and for sharing information about PCOS in general. The idea of people having hairy pits isn't just a novelty option for raising money. Hair growth is just one of the many symptoms of PCOS. And it's full on body hairgrowth all over the damned place, not just under your pits. Here are some of the other fun symptoms you can have with PCOS:
- Incredibly painful periods
- Periods that last weeks/months
- No periods at all
- Irregular periods to the point of what the fuck is going on down there?
- Changes in weight
- Increased body hair everywhere
- Fertility problems
Obviously it's super hard to have a single way of raising money/awareness regarding PCOS as there are so many symptoms and health related aspects that can be completely different for each person diagnosed with it.
About 7 years ago I was finally diagnosed with PCOS. It took a long time. I saw doctor after doctor after doctor and none of them joined the dots from all my existing various symptoms. It's a hard thing to get diagnosed, it's a hard thing to treat, and it's previously been a hard thing for me to talk about.
Here are the two most likely things a doctor will say to you if you are diagnosed with PCOS:
- Are you trying to get pregnant? You're not? Then it's totally nothing to worry about!
- Lose weight, fatty.
I've seen 16 doctors in 3 different practices in the last 7 years. Getting diagnosed was a ballache. Getting the right treatments has been incredibly difficult and has been a fun game of trial and error with my body. And getting doctors to stop being so preoccupied with my weight and whether I want a baby or not has been damned near impossible.
I'm currently on medication to treat just some symptoms of my PCOS while other symptoms are going completely untreated. Unfortunately a lot of the time you end up having to sacrifice one symptom to treat another, and hardly ever all at the same time. I recently met a specialist who has never met me in my entire life, had none of my medical notes, knew nothing about my previous symptoms, nothing about my general health or lifestyle, but who threatened to withold my medication unless I lost 2 stone or sought out surgery to lose weight. It was this kind of thing that made me fed up and pissed off and angry and it's the reason I wrote my zine.
Me and my bad rep crew are djing at the Pit Pride Party Armpits 4 August benefit which you should all come to.
And if you are looking for a zine that is queer and trans* positive, doesn't place focus on fertility, and is completely body positive then my PCOS zine, Joining the Dots is on sale throughout August. Copies will also be available at the zine stall at Pit Pride Party.