PCOS Is Not My Friend: The Hairy Stuff

The PCOS saga continues: this time focusing on the fairly hairy (oh ha!) subject of body hair. One would think that having a whacked-out cycle and a tendency to put on weight like nobody's business would be as awful as it gets, but no. It's not. Another common symptom of PCOS that I have found myself suffering from is excess hair growth.

When I was on the pill, I didn't really have any noticeable problems with body hair. I have fair skin and fair hair for the most part, and I didn't have anything to complain about. It wasn't until I stopped using the birth control pill that things went a little haywire; obviously the shift in hormones was to thank for that.

I began noticing that my leg hairs grew back seemingly thicker and darker after shaving, and at a faster rate than before. I started paying more attention to the fuzzy blonde hairs that were on my cheeks {I like to call them my mini-sideburns.} I saw hairs that had started growing on my belly. I began playing with the hairs that had sprouted out of my chin and neck, without even realising I was doing it. I remember Jase calling me out on it for the first time, and feeling absolutely mortified. How long had I been doing that for? Was I drawing people's attention to my lady-beard? Was it noticeable? I began constantly examining my face in the mirror & wondering what to do next.

The hair growth started off fairly mild. But as I'd began plucking them out, they grew in quite coarse and again, seemed darker. I've never waxed any part of my body before {let's not talk about my one ill-fated home waxing strip experiment, remember that one?} and I was petrified of taking any step that would result in me having to constantly remove the hair for the rest of my life. I'm a low maintenance kind of girl.

It took me a while to figure out what to do, but I eventually went with a hair removal cream, which worked out quite well. I use it sparingly on my chin, and it helps get rid of the nastier dark hairs - I only do it every couple of weeks, and it makes my self confidence soar afterwards! There's not much I can do about the hairs, to be honest - much like acne, it's hormonal and will probably settle back down again if I were to go back on birth control.

But, thanks to the never ending random cycle of annoyance that is PCOS, I'm trying to avoid being back on those for the moment, to monitor my natural cycle and to eventually figure out the best way to conceive.

Boo to the hairyness!

And it doesn't even stop there. Unfortunately, as I've found out for myself, women with PCOS are prone to ingrown hairs, due to the coarser hair that grows on our bodies. That explains why I've suffered from more of those in the last few months than I can ever remember. They're painful and they're gross and I hate them.

Now, I should add here that I also suffer from a different dermatological problem that I've had for as long as I can remember; I'm fairly sure it's hereditary, as my dad has always had it too. It's called keratosis pelaris and it's basically a skin condition that presents itself as lots of dry, lumpy spots all over the back of my arms and my upper thighs. It's one of the reasons why I have issues with my arms, because those bumps often lead to pimples which lead to redness and scarring. Add in the pre-disposition to suffer from ingrown hairs, and it's not a pretty sight.

I have scarring on my arms, on my upper thighs and on the inside of my knees. I exfoliate all the time, especially since I shave my legs - but it doesn't seem to help. I've read somewhere that tea tree oil can help with ingrown hairs, so I may try this next. I've never been a skin baring kind of girl, but it's still hard not to feel embarrassed by all the marks and wobbles and other quirks that I've discovered as I've gotten older - and I haven't even gone through the pregnancy stage yet! But it's the only body I've got, so I'm learning to love it anyway.

Looking back, these posts do appear to be all about me complaining and whinging about the problems I'm facing - but let's face it, this syndrome sucks. I'm hoping there will be more positive outcomes as the months progress, depending on how things go with diet changes in particular. But for the meantime, this series is documenting how I'm feeling right now, which I think is important. Thanks for following along with me, I appreciate you letting me vent it out.

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Anonymous said...

tea tree oil can be used for *a lot* of different things :)

Jess said...

This syndrome DOES suck, and you're allowed to complain about it! I'm a little surprised that there's no better treatment for this symptom. It seems like the sheer number of women with PCOS should prompt better treatment for both the syndrome and its symptoms.

carly said...

get it all out.

i have a few random stray hairs and i will just pluck them out when i find them. i am quite fair skinned too. and have never considered waxing. i am far too weak for that hehe.

Emily Jane said...

Aww I'm so sorry to hear about all these awful things happening to you. I think you're very brave for sharing it and please know that we're here for you. I have always had body hair issues, it seems my tall, blonde little brother got all my mum's genes (extremely fair, barely there body hair, beautiful shaped nails, blue eyes...) and I got all my DAD'S (ugly man hands and nails, dark hair, and lots of it - in summer I have to shave every day!) Have you looked into laser removal? I worked at a clinic for a total of three days (lol) but I learned that if you go for 5-6 treatments it tends to make any hair barely noticeable any more. And for the hair that isn't too coarse, bleach works wonders. Best of luck love!!

Becky said...

Ugh, this sucks! And don't ever feel bad about "complaining" this is something you have to live with and anyone who doesn't want to hear about it can just shove off *cough* uh, not read a post.

Anonymous said...

Complain all you want. Especially about hair.

My hair is dark, and I hate that I see it everywhere.

I'm low maintenance, too, so I completely understand worrying about having to do something forever. I'm glad to hear the cream is working for you!

phonakins said...

I like that you whinge at least you can do it here and we still love you. If we didn't like it, we'd just leave :)

Karen said...

Oh man, that does really suck. I am also fair-haired so never had much of a problem with hair on my legs or anywhere else. The only places that I have a few darker coarse hairs grow is a mole on my face. I simply pluck them once I can feel them (because they are coarse, they bother me before you can see them, because I can feel them). Unfortunately I don't really know what you can do to fix this, but I'm hoping your hormones will go back to normal at least a little.

Eris said...

It's educational, not a bitch fest. I haven't read it like that.

What are you using to exfoliate? Have you tried products with salycidic (salicydic?) acid in them? What about something like the clarisonic or another product meant for gentle facial dermabrasian but used on your body instead? I have a MAJOR issue with ingrown hairs around my bikini line and my legs and switching to the basic apricot exfoliator scrub (popular in the states, have no idea in other countries?) that is "medicated" with acne medicine, essentially salicidic acid, made a HUGE difference.

Chantel said...

Wow Aly, that is pretty sucky. Poor thing. I have one hair that likes to come out on the side of my mouth and I HATE it and pluck it out as soon as it comes which is fine because it's just the one hair.

And I'm having an omg moment. Reading about your skin condition I clicked on that link then google images. I have it too :-( Keratosis Pilaris I mean. I never knew the name of it and have been to the doctor about it and have never helped, let alone tell me the name of it. I hate my arms because of it and never wear anything without sleaves.. I can completely relate to how much that sucks :-( xx

terra said...

I think you are absolutely allowed to complain about it as much as you want. It sucks and since I, for one, don't know much about PCOS or what it's like to live with it, it's interesting to hear the frustrations and issues you're battling through.

steph anne said...

I have a problem with the hairy stuff too! I've learned to deal with it and I do the same thing - use hair removal cream. It's so annoying sometimes. I'm glad I'm not the only one!

Anonymous said...

So....not to compare or make a competition of ur post but I am living proof of big foots girlfriend. I've been suffering with body hair since I was born. I looked like a monkey and still do. Not only that..I have keratosis Pilaris on my arms that look purple and red when it gets cold...and to top it off I also have ingrown hairs galore!!

I've tried it all....all medications and scrubs and soaps and still no help. I hate this crap more than anything.

The only good thing is my sex drive... But what good is that looking like a pimply butt chewbaca??? :(!!! I'm not exagerrating...wish I was rich and had a laser hair removal machine.

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