Ashlee Hinds (GP)
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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a mouthful to say. The condition is commonly knows as PCOS, and 29-year-old Ashlee Hinds is seeking to shed light on it.
Ashlee, who has been suffering with PCOS for about five years, said it’s an illness that takes a huge toll on many women.
PCOS is a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels. Women with PCOS produce higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This hormone imbalance causes them to skip menstrual periods and makes it harder for them to get pregnant.
In an interview with EASY magazine, Ashlee spoke of her journey, admitting that it has been anything but easy.
“I had to deal with it for most of my 20s. I was in and out of the hospital because of the PCOS. I was really low on blood so I had to be hospitalised. That was while I was in school and I had to drop out of the University of the West Indies because I was constantly missing school. After a while I couldn’t keep up with school and being sick,” she said.
Ashlee said it took her a while to figure out how to handle her illness, especially due to the unpredictable nature of it.
“The most troubling part about PCOS is when I have my period. Sometimes my periods would not show up for six months. Then the next six months it would come and wouldn’t stop flowing so I would have to go to the hospital to be put on drips or to get blood because I was losing so much. It affects me mainly in that area,” she explained.
Ashlee said sometimes the pain is so severe she is forced to cancel plans with her friends. This, she says, happens way too often.
“Sometimes I don’t know if I would be able to go out because sometimes I’m good in the morning and by afternoon time I’m sick. It really affects my livelihood. Even work, sometimes I would be off from work from two or three weeks and then trying to ease back into it. I still try to do things around it though,” she added.
Because of the PCOS, Ashlee has now developed another issue: haemorrhagic ovarian cysts.
“During May I got a haemorrhagic ovarian cyst but I didn’t know. I was getting a lot of pelvic pain but I didn’t know. I ignored it for a while but it got so bad to the point where I couldn’t sit or stand. I had to go to my doctor to find out what was happening.
“During that time, because I didn’t know what it was, I was on a lot of medication and the doctors were just trying to figure out a way to stop it medically instead of using surgery,” she said.
Ashlee said she is not out of the woods, but is thankful she’s way better than she was before.
“I’m not better but I’m better than I was couple months ago. Every day is not the same, but I’m thankful. Some days I’m good, others I’m really sick, so I just take it one day at a time,” she said.
Sadly, because of her illness, there’s a question mark surrounding Ashlee’s chance of becoming a mother.
“It does affect me having children. They say there are fertility treatments for it. At this point I would love to have but I would have to see what happens in the long run. I’m still very unsure about it,” she added.
Ashlee told EASY magazine the reason she came forward to share her story was to encourage other women to get tested early and not to ignore the symptoms since PCOS can lead to ovarian cancer.
“I just want women to know to go and get checked. Symptoms that come along with PCOS that people ignore are like irregular periods, and also they might have facial hair and things like that. You may have sleep apnoea. You gain a lot of weight with it when doctors put you on birth control pills,” she said.
Ashlee also encouraged women who are diagnosed with it to surround themselves with a good support system as much as they can.
“What I really want anyone who is suffering with PCOS to know is to make sure you keep a positive circle around you and have people that would be able to help you out. During that time, I needed a lot of help either in getting to the doctor and different things. You should also stock up on groceries if you don’t have someone there to assist you so you would have the things you need,” she said.
And she cautioned women and men alike not to look at PCOS as being less serious than any other illness just because you cannot tell if someone has it or not.
“A lot of people don’t know how much it takes out of you. It’s something that’s not talked about a lot. Women who suffer with PCOS go unnoticed, especially in the workplace . . . they lose out on work because they have to be out all the time.
“People should be more understanding of people who have it. So while they may not look sick, they still are sick and would need all the support they can get,” Ashlee added. (DB)