Many women consider unwanted hair on their bodies to be an embarrassing problem.
This is why we have so many companies marketing their hair removal products and urging women to go absolutely hair-free! However, body positive activists have been opposing such companies for quite a while because they believe that for eons now, women have been altering their appearances to cater to the tastes of men – and it must stop, now.
While most of the times the problem of excess hair is just a cosmetic and superficial one, sometimes it goes a lot deeper than that. PCOS or ‘polycystic ovary syndrome’ is more common than you can imagine and it is the culprit behind unwanted facial hair more often than you have ever believed.
One body positive activist, who went viral online because of her excessive body hair a few years back, is now openly vocal about her PCOS problem. Harnaam Kaur is calling women to love their bodies as they are, whether they fit society’s definition of acceptable or not. Kaur even went on to become a Guiness World Records holder in 2016, all thanks to her body hair, for which she was scoffed at by social media.
However, along with being body positive, it is important to be healthy too, which why it is vital to understand PCOS and its causes and symptoms. According to Mayo Clinic, ignoring this disease may lead to more serious illnesses like cancer, infertility, and also type 2 diabetes. Read on to discover just what makes PCOS tick and the signs and symptoms a woman must watch out for.
PCOS is a hormone imbalance seen in women where the female body produces more male hormones (testosterone) than necessary. Female bodies produce both estrogen – the female hormone – and testosterone. However, testosterone is produced in nominal amounts. But when you suffer from PCOS, this balance goes awry and more testosterone is produced, which is what causes the excess and unwanted hair (1). Hormonal imbalances will also lead to irregular menstrual cycles and, in turn, will affect the fertility of the affected.
It is still not clear what causes PCOS, but some of the factors that increase its possibility of attacking you are genetics, how resistant you are to insulin, and some sort of inflammation (2).
PCOS often goes unnoticed or simply ignored, which is what makes it all the more dangerous. Studies have revealed that 70% of females don’t even realize that they have this disease.
An unnatural growth of thick hair above your lips and on your chin is a very prominent sign and instead of rushing to a salon when you notice them, you must pay your doctor a visit instead. This is sort of a direct effect of the excess testosterone that your body is producing because this very hormone is what causes facial hair and also bodily hair to be thicker in male bodies. You may also notice sudden sprouts of hair in other parts of your body, like on your back, arms, and chest (3). As soon as you notice this, you must meet your doctor and start taking corrective measures.
Another sign is excessive weight gain in a very short duration of time. Yes, our bodies are dynamic and they keep changing over time, but gaining too much weight, or having trouble keeping it in check despite efforts from your end is never a good sign. Hormonal imbalances send your body’s metabolism into a tizzy, which is why it becomes next to impossible to lose all the excess weight (4). There is a misconception amongst people that being overweight or gaining weight is only because one overeats or is lazy. PCOS is just one such disease which causes weight gain and makes it extremely difficult to lose all the extra pounds. So, it is best not to presume such things and pay the doctor a visit instead.
Mood swings are another huge indicator that your body may not be in its best physical condition. Women suffer from this every month during their menstrual cycle when there are hormonal changes happening in the body – otherwise known as PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome. In recent times, especially in pop culture references, PMS has become some sort of an inexplicable, bordering on both comic and manic, mood swing that women go through every month. This is, however, just a manifestation of the hormonal changes that a female body is going through. Thus, it is only natural that when affected with PCOS, there will be mood swings galore, and in some cases, depression, and headaches as well.
It is often common for people in general, and women in particular, to ignore the signs of illnesses in their bodies and keep delaying the much-needed visit to the doctor until it is too late. Please do not make that mistake and if you feel that you may be suffering from any of these symptoms, pick up that phone and book an appointment with your doctor right now. If you know anyone else, apart from yourself, who might be going through this and completely ignoring it, share this article with them and remind them to meet a doctor as soon as possible.