18 Women Share What It's Really Like To Live With PCOS

To mark National Infertility Awareness Week, Refinery29 is dedicating a full week of coverage to an open discussion about becoming a parent. Check out more here.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is an endocrine system disorder with symptoms including excess body hair, weight gain, irregular periods, and even infertility. Its exact cause remains unknown, but one thing is certain: This condition touches women's lives in countless ways. Beyond the physical changes that PCOS causes, the syndrome has also been linked with anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.

Some women feel endlessly frustrated with their bodies, whether they're suffering through irregular periods or trying to cover up unwanted body hair. Others dread further changes in their health to the point that they avoid seeing doctors altogether. And then there are those who feel only shame — about their appearance, their infertility, or their perceived lack of femininity.

But the thing is, PCOS is not uncommon: It's estimated that between one in 10 and one in 20 women of childbearing age has the disorder. Of course, experiences with PCOS vary wildly — it's a syndrome, after all — but a PCOS diagnosis can leave women feeling isolated and at a loss for what to do. That's why finding support, whether from a loved one or online, can be helpful.

Below, we've rounded up 18 posts from secret-sharing app Whisper by women with PCOS. Hopefully, hearing other people's stories can remind women that they're not alone.
I have PCOS which comes with embarrassing body hair. I don
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I have PCOS and haven
My husband and I are trying for a baby and I feel like a failure because I
can
I have PCOS. When I get my period, if ever, it feels like I got hit with a
truck.
I
I found out I have PCOS and I
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I lost 3 pounds this week. I know its not a lot but after gaining 100+
pounds in a year from PCOS it is good to see the scale go backwards. Maybe
my body is done fighting against me.
I hate having PCOS. I hate not being able to lose weight. I hate irregular
periods. I hate body/facial hair. I want to be in a different body.
 Having PCOS makes me feel very unfeminine and gross. I
I hate being the fat friend. I have PCOS and a hormonal imbalance so when I
try to lose weight, I can
I have PCOS. I am worried that I will disappoint my fiancé if it won
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I know I am not the only one but having PCOS I feel like less of a woman,
the testosterone and infertility makes me feel like a failure.
I have pcos and everytime someone tells me they
I have PCOS and completed the first round of fertility meds. Now I
Since my doc put me on meds to treat my PCOS, my hormones have rebalanced
and I am on a constant low simmer. It
A few years ago, I wished I would never have a period. Now I have pcos, no
period and I am trying to conceive... I miss my period.
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Every time I wake up and look in the mirror my heart breaks a little bit
more. It
I have pcos and I have hair all over my body so I always hide my body. It
makes life hard for a girl. I doubt I
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