Nicole Strayhorn was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at age 14. After years of struggling with the syndrome, Nicole, now 28, is managing her symptoms and loving herself. She shared her story with NIH MedlinePlus magazine.
It's understandable that your body changes as you get older.
However, at 13 years old I was battling terrible headaches, bad acne, irregular menstrual cycles, and weight gain. Things you do not want to deal with as a teenager.
I went through so many tests, including a spinal tap, three glucose tests for diabetes, and a glaucoma test to figure out what was wrong with me. It was exhausting.
Finally, I saw an OB-GYN, or obstetrician-gynecologist, a doctor who specializes in women's health. I had an ultrasound and cysts were discovered on my ovaries.
I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at 14 years old. Finally, I knew why this was happening to me.
Following my ultrasound, my OB-GYN started me on a diabetes medicine that helps women with PCOS manage insulin resistance. But my OB-GYN told me little information about PCOS. Unfortunately, the pills upset my stomach and made me nauseous. I stopped taking them after two weeks. I ignored my symptoms from there on.
Fast forward 14 years later, I continue to struggle to manage my symptoms with PCOS, from excess facial hair to weight gain. Weight loss has been the biggest challenge for me. Especially after my father passed away in 2014, my weight spiraled out of control.
I have tried weight loss groups, fitness boot camps, aerobics classes, and even hula hoop classes. It’s frustrating when you see little to no results.
But as a proud millennial, I look to social media for inspiration and motivation as I deal with PCOS.
I follow Harnaam Kaur on Instagram and Facebook. She suffers from PCOS but rocks her full beard. Although she has been bullied about her facial hair, Harnaam promotes acceptance and self-love and lives by the phrase “my body, my rules.”
With inspiration like this and support from my family, I’m slowly taking back my life and working on lifestyle changes, like exercising more, to help with my PCOS symptoms.
I’ve started with small steps, like taking breaks to walk during work hours. I also take dance-fitness classes, water aerobics classes, and swim laps.
I have lost 10 pounds along this journey and I’m not done yet. I’m loving myself more every day.