That may sound like a really silly question… I mean, after all, what woman likes to have to be constantly removing hair from her face (not to mention other parts of the body)?!
As my role as Chair and PR manager of Verity I often get asked to participate in media interviews (radio, magazines and sometimes TV). It’s not always about PCOS directly, but rather around a particular ‘symptom’ if you will, such as excess hair, infertility or hair loss. These opportunities are a great way for us to be introducing the subject of PCOS not only to the media who can sometimes be very unaware, but also the public. It help’s “connect the dots” for a lot of women.
My diagnoses with PCOS in 2005 came because I finally got off my butt to go and see my GP about my irregular cycles. I didn’t go because I had a few hairs under my chin, or because I found I put on weight very easily and found it sometimes nigh on impossible to shift.
My GP asked things such as, “do you have any excess hair on your face or body?” … “no” I answered, thinking that the hairs under my chin, on my big toes and bikini area were all hereditary. “Do you get breakouts?” … at this point I was beginning to think my GP was a little nuts. Why was he asking me such things? We should be talking about my menstrual cycle! It was only when the blood tests came back and he gave me the diagnosis of PCOS, a leaflet to take home (not forgetting that very common phrase that us PCOS women hear, “come back when you want to have a baby”), that the pieces of the jigsaw that I didn’t even really realise was there started fitting together. It was a light bulb moment.
I had never heard of PCOS before I was diagnosed with it. It was incredibly scary, as many of you will be able to relate with, but it was also somewhat of a relief to finally have an answer for the way things were they way they were. My GP gave me a piece of paper he had printed out, he didn’t give me the name or website address of Verity or any other support group. I had to find that for myself, and it took months for me to realise that there may have even been a support group I should try and find.
This is why I joined Verity as a Trustee in 2006. With a background in PR and marketing, I wanted to do what I could to help other women like me… so that GPs would be able to recognise symptoms and put those pieces of the jigsaw together on our behalf so we didn’t have to, and so that when leaving with a diagnosis of PCOS, women would know that there is support available and where to go to get it.
I mention all of that to frame this post a bit. I was recently asked to sit on an advisory panel for a 1000+ women survey on excess facial hair and a then participate in a media campaign that will support the findings. I jumped at it, and we had the first advisory board meeting on Tuesday evening. Although the activity is not directly related to PCOS, as one of, if not the leading cause of excess facial hair in women it’s inevitable that PCOS will come up time and time again… making lots and lots of opportunities to spread awareness about the condition, it’s symptoms, impact on our lives and also of Verity.
I will be in a position to tell you more about the campaign in the coming weeks, but at this point I really wanted to reach out to you and ask that if excess hair is one of your PCOS symptoms (particularly excess facial hair) that you tell me how it makes you feel so that when I am speaking on your behalf that I am truly representing your views as best I can.
- How do you feel about your facial hair?
- What do you think other people think about your facial hair?
- Does it stop you from forming intimate relationships?
- How do you cope / manage it?
- How do you think this aspect of your PCOS could be better supported by the NHS / your GP?
If you can spare a few minutes to either leave a comment below, or to email me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org then I would really appreciate it.