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‘I was told to lose weight for years but I actually had polycystic ovary syndrome’ – Wales Online

Mar 21st, 2023

For years, Amy Jones was told to lose weight when she went to her doctor about fertility issues. It took ten years her for to be diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects around one in 10 women in the UK.

PCOS is a common condition that affects how the ovaries work, with the main features of the condition being irregular periods, excess androgen (high levels of 'male' hormones in the body), and polycystic ovaries.

"I had been back and forth to the GP, but because I was overweight, all I was ever told was lose weight," Amy, who started experiencing symptoms when she was 21, said. "So, in the end, I just pay private to go to a clinic in Cardiff." After blood tests and internal scans, Amy was diagnosed with PCOS in 2019.

READ MORE: 'I was told over and over I had a kidney infection but it turned out to be cancer'

Symptoms of the condition include having irregular periods or no periods at all, difficulty getting pregnant, excess hair growth on the face, back, chest, or buttocks, weight gain, thinning hair or hair loss, and oily skin or acne. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown and there is no cure, but it often runs in families.

For Amy, the length of time it took for her to get diagnosed with PCOS was frustrating. She said: "I felt quite lonely and sometimes I felt like people didn't believe the symptoms, because it has been talked about a lot more in the last few years - we didn't have social media [back then]. So I just felt really lonely."

Amy would go from having periods that lasted months to not having a period at all for months at a time. At one point, she says she went 10 months without having a period. She would bleed in between periods, and suffered with bloating and hormonal imbalances.

"No month was the same," she said. "It was frustrating and lonely. I kept blaming myself because I was overweight. I kept comfort eating due to the pain and my emotional state was affected." However, Amy says that she was repeatedly told by doctors that she needed to lower her BMI for her symptoms to improve.

"I felt embarrassed. I stopped going [to the GP]. I've still got a fear now of going to the GP surgery. It made me feel ashamed," Amy said. "I would come from there and eat more. It was like a vicious circle and I didn't feel supported." Feeling frustrated with her situation, Amy decided to go private to get a diagnosis. In less than a week, she was diagnosed with PCOS.

The diagnosis came as a relief, but Amy had never heard of the condition before. But living with PCOS meant that Amy found it difficult to get pregnant. "I didn't speak about to anybody in 2019 because I felt ashamed," Amy said. "But now there are communities on social media and there are so many ladies in the same position as me."

Visiting a fertility clinic on a regular basis, Amy says she felt pressure to to look presentable but was too insecure to visit a beauty salon for a wax. It was this insecurity that put the wheels in motion for her setting up her own waxing studio for those living with endometriosis and PCOS.

Amy qualified as an aesthetician in 2020 and has a small studio for her business, Waxing by Amy, where she hopes she can make clients feel at home. Her studio uses wax that is able to cover a range of hair length and thickness as those with PCOS often have excess hair growth. "My bed holds up to 600 pounds, I've got wide chairs, and just everything I could think of that I've had concerns in my head about [when going to a beautician].

"I used to worry about beauticians talking about me because of my size and I know a lot of ladies feel the same. I hope by it only being me there that I can't talk about them and I wouldn't. I'm a plus-sized person so I hope that people will feel more comfortable to come to me."

However, Amy feels PCOS is often dismissed or misunderstood. She said: "I feel because you can't see physically see the illness, people think that it's not real. A lot of comments have been made to me like, 'You're trying to lose weight so you're saying you have PCOS because your bellies bloated.' I feel women think it's an excuse. Men, especially, are dismissive towards it."

Today, Amy feels much more supported than she did 10 years ago, largely due to groups on social media made up of people who live with the same condition. She says these groups have been "life-changing" for her, and she now tries to organise monthly meet-ups for women with the same condition. "These groups are important because it's reality. You don't feel so alienated," she said.


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'I was told to lose weight for years but I actually had polycystic ovary syndrome' - Wales Online

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