If you're unfamiliar with PCOS, let us school you. PCOS, short for polycystic ovary syndrome, occurs when a woman starts developing many small cysts on her ovaries. These cysts aren't harmful themselves, but they lead to hormone imbalances and, as a result, create other symptoms (think facial hair, acne, and weight gain). It can also make your period ultra-light, ultra-heavy, or stop altogether. 

While the syndrome might feel isolating, it's certainly not uncommon: Over 200,000 women are diagnosed with it every year. If you just got diagnosed, know someone who has, or just want to know more about the condition, we got the low-down from women who kick PCOS' ass day in and day out.


"If you're not getting your period... girl, get that checked out."

"I spent 23 years wondering what was going on with me and having seemingly bored, uninterested gynecologists tell me 'you're just thin, it'll come.' Nope, it didn't. Push your doctors if you feel like something is wrong. I'm glad I eventually did. 
"You owe it to yourself to know. You know when something is wrong with your body. Going to get 'checked out' is self-care and everyone owes that to themselves. Leaving something like PCOS completely untreated could have some pretty shitty side effects so why not go get checked just to be sure one way or the other? I'd tell a girl that likely, they'll feel better if they do. Even if they are diagnosed, at least they can start to do something about it and educate themselves. This is a fairly common issue among women — there are a lot of support groups out there — it's manageable. You can still exist and live your life fully with PCOS — so just get checked to know for you."

- Lindsey, 28, blogger at I Haven't Shaved in Six Weeks, diagnosed with PCOS four years ago.


"When I was first diagnosed with PCOS, little information was given to me about alternative treatment options."

"Instead, I was just given metformin. In my work providing nutrition counseling women with PCOS, I have researched and found how beneficial nutrition supplements can be for managing PCOS symptoms. Taking supplements has helped curb my sugar cravings and regulated my cycle. They are also lowering my risk for diseases that women with PCOS are at risk for like type 2 diabetes."

- Angela, 41, founder of PCOS Nutrition Center, diagnosed with PCOS 13 years ago.


"I wish that I had gotten diagnosed sooner."

"I would have been able to better explain my weight gain, and could have worked to get it under control before it got to the point where it seemed as if I’d reached the point of no return. I can get the weight off, but the hill is now much steeper. I also wish I had known that there’s no easy fix — it’s not just weight control, but it’s making sure you’re managing stress, identifying how to get endocrine-disrupting products out of your beauty routine, and getting emotional support for those days when it just seems like it’s too much to bear."

- Megan, 35, VP, diagnosed with PCOS one year ago.


"At times, it feels like controlling PCOS is a rollercoaster."

"I can get in an amazing grove of working out regularly, keeping a strict diet, and getting my weight to a healthy place, while other times (like now) it feels as though I have zero control and there’s no fixing it in sight. I always find it helpful to remember that I am not the only one dealing with this and there are plenty of other women out there, just like me. It helps me not to feel so self-conscious about some of my more physical symptoms!"

- Jessica, 26, senior account executive, diagnosed with PCOS seven years ago.


"I wish that the symptoms were treated seriously, and not brushed aside as a female complaint."

"Nothing made me happier than the incredible yelp of pain I released when my doctor gave me a pelvic exam and told me that this ‘wasn’t in my head’. He ordered an ultrasound there they were: the cysts. Two years later, and the cysts have shrunk and I’m managing. I went from almost bedridden to running every other day. It’s so powerful when you treat something the right way."

- Sharon, 29, director of communications, diagnosed with PCOS for two years.