You’re never really the same after your first ruptured ovarian cyst. The sudden onset of searing pain through your abdomen, the nausea, the vomiting, the feeling that there’s a really solid chance that you’re either dying or giving birth to a small, spiky, demon child — that shit changes you, trust me.
Mine was a couple of years ago. I wasn’t feeling all that crash hot in the morning but had an assignment to finish. I’m #blessed with regular, excruciating period pain, so thought the dull ache in my stomach could be an early onset of that.
Plus, I was keen to ignore things and avoid a trip to the emergency room—which, if you’ve been, you’ll know is basically like a five-hour long trip to hell, except in this version I also feel like hot needles are stabbing my abdomen.
Jasmine Garnsworthy, when she's not "giving birth to a small, spiky demon child." Image: supplied.
At some point during the night things became unbearable, and, like millions of women with undiagnosed health issues before me, I tearfully hit up Google for answers, which ranged from appendicitis to food poisoning, and were all accompanied by the phrase, “seek urgent medical care.” So next stop; hospital. Reason; obvious.
The first time I actually heard the phrase “PCOS” mentioned, I’d made it to the hospital—sporting a backless gown and all—and was clutching my stomach with pain, feeling utterly sorry for myself.
“It’s a possibility,” the gynecologist cautioned, explaining that the ruptured ovarian cyst I’d been hospitalised for, coupled with other symptoms I experienced regularly (excruciating period pain and hormonal acne, that’s you!) could mean I had an illness called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, AKA PCOS, that is strongly linked with infertility and a host of terrifying symptoms.
Watch: Five things you need to know about PCOS. Post continues after this video.
I’ll cut a long story short: I didn’t/don’t/probably will never have PCOS, and it was just a random (but normal and common) ruptured cyst on my right ovary, thank fucking goodness. However, this mildly traumatic experience led me to obsessively research the disease and discover a) it’s incurable and b) Around 12 to 18 per cent of Australian women suffer from it, 70 percent of whom are undiagnosed. Which means either you, or someone you know, probably lives with a serious disorder and doesn’t even have a clue.
So, should you be worried?
Well, for the blissfully uninitiated, PCOS is a hormonal issue that’s accompanied by a cluster of symptoms you might notice, including weight gain, irregular or no periods, acne, hair loss on the head, or excess body hair, and it’s also commonly linked with infertility.
New York-based infertility specialist and reproductive endocrinologist Dr Rashmi Kudesia is a global leader in the treatment of PCOS, and explained that the disorder is usually diagnosed if a woman has two out of the following: “Absent or irregular ovulation, clinical symptoms or bloodwork suggesting high levels of male hormones, and third, polycystic-appearing ovaries.” A doctor might take your medical history, blood tests, and an ultrasound to confirm you have it.