Topic of Discussion: Menstruation and PCOS
TEXT Kanika Joshi
Remember when you were a nervous teenager going through body changes that didn’t make sense? Your body doing a 180 degree on you? Facial hair, voice cracks, acne that left you confused? Well, I will not be surprised if you tell me you didn’t know what was happening or that no one around you talked about it. Just like that we know there’s a whole stigma around period talk and reproductive systems. And yes, we know there is so much information online these days, but it just isn’t enough. So, we are here with a little bit of information to keep the conversation going.
Most girls start their period somewhere between 9 and 16 years, with each period’s length 2-8 days. Literally no one told me that I was just going to start bleeding one day and it did not come as a fun surprise on that rainy day at school. Your period has a lot to do with your diet, weight, and your percentage of body fat and vice versa. Your monthly cycles change throughout your life depending on stress, age, weight gain or loss, or having a baby. If you have any concerns regarding this, you should see a doctor, specifically a Gynaecologist as soon as possible.
What if my periods aren’t ‘normal’?
If there are any irregularities with your period, it’s essential to note your symptoms and consult a doctor. The most common menstrual problem faced by women is PCOS. Below is a short description on the same.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition which begins during a girl’s teen year. This problem might be more common than you think, with 1 in 5 Indian women suffering from PCOS, still few people are talking about it. People don’t talk a lot about PCOS because of the stigma around period talk and the unrecognised necessity to address issues around it unless the woman is unable to conceive.
The fear that a woman with PCOS cannot conceive at all leads people to ignoring the conversation as their families fear that it would cause hindrance in them getting married. We can say that this patriarchal system that sees childbearing as a woman’s ‘biological duty’ if awfully flawed. Thus, doctors too many a times focus more on ‘preservation’ of fertility which is makes it hard to find the right diagnosis and treatment. This patriarchal gender bias in healthcare and medical research can harm the woman’s well-being on the longer run. Also, the social stigma attached to having high levels of testosterone leading to facial hair, weight gain, acne associated with PCOS; challenges the expectation of an ‘ideal’ female body. It also leads to different body image and mental health issues.
As we step into the year 2021, it’s high time we stop viewing PCOS as a hindrance to fertility, childbearing and dwelling into the orthodox ideas of femininity. We need to focus on the emotional, physical and mental impact on the women affected, talk about issues, share in confidence and grow together.
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