When I was 16, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). While I had the heavy periods and (much to the concern of my self-conscious teenage self) dark hair around my stomach and nipples, I didn't display any of the other traditional symptoms, though my constant fear of a sudden heavy blood flow and concern over my dark hair in unusual places was enough to send me to the doctor's office. The Mayo Clinic defines PCOS as "a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age." It's typically characterized by cysts in the ovaries, high levels of male hormones, and irregular or skipped periods. Camille Clare, MD, MPH, CPE, FACOG, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York Medical College, said that the main symptoms are changes in hair growth or acne, menstrual irregularities, problems with ovulation, and infertility. According to Dr. Clare, 80 percent of patients will exhibit obesity, excess hair growth, acne, skin change, and ovarian cysts. But at this point in my diagnosis, I wasn't affected by most of these symptoms, and they didn't affect me for most of my 20s, either.
NYMC Faculty News: Camille A. Clare, M.D., M.P.H. '11, associate dean of diversity and inclusion for the School of Medicine and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology