The Most Common Reproductive Illness

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By Lauren Cook

When thinking of a beautiful feminine woman, many external characteristics come to mind. Long beautiful hair that flows in the wind, clear skin, and a trim waistline to name a few. While this may not come to mind explicitly, having the ability to procreate is also a sign of femininity. For women who have those things naturally, it can become easy to overlook those who struggle with infertility or hormone disorders such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. For women who don’t have these things naturally, it’s very easy to feel like we’re not “feminine enough.”  

When I was first diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), I had to google what it was. It actually took two separate doctors diagnosing me to make me take it seriously. PCOS is a hormone disorder in which the ovaries can become enlarged and have little cysts on the outer edges. This can lead to infertility, hair loss, irregular hair growth, irregular menstrual cycles, acne, and weight gain. As you can imagine, experiencing these side effects often makes one feel very, very unfeminine. Seeing half of your head of hair go down the drain in the shower really is a site that nobody ever wants to see. These symptoms can create a lot of extra “maintenance” and add an extreme amount of mental strain. A lot of times women with PCOS feel that something is wrong with their body or that our bodies are broken in some way. I know that it made me feel that way. 

This mindset of not being “feminine enough” took a toll on my health.

This mindset of not being “feminine enough” took a toll on my health and made my PCOS even worse. It caused a lot of sleepless nights and painful cry sessions. I didn’t feel feminine enough until one night, as I was praying, God told me that I was feminine enough because I desired to be desired and He desired me. It’s cheesy, I know, but it’s something that is so true and that so many of us need to hear. It’s not the ability to procreate or the external beauty that is at the crux of being a woman. Those things are important, yes, but to be a woman is to reveal the desire of God’s heart to love and be loved. If we know that, then there is not a disorder or illness that can take our femininity away from us. PCOS does not define me and it does not define you either. Our bodies are not broken, they are made to give and receive love which is exactly what they’re doing. Every time we care for ourselves and one another, we are putting our femininity in action.

Femininity is not reserved for those who smell like roses all the time and have perfect shiny hair. It’s for those who cultivate and nurture their own life and the lives of others whether that is making a healthy meal for your family or feeding the poor in your hometown. Living with PCOS has taught me just that. Femininity doesn’t have just one face and that I’m feminine to my core. 

Lauren is a food and faith blogger. She started her blog, LillianDora, to share healthy and yummy recipes with others and bring people closer to God through food. She has struggled with PCOS for years and strives to create a community of Catholic women with PCOS. You can find her at www.lilliandora.comor on instagram at @lilliandorablog.