A varient on normal

You're on a spectrum.

Twenty percent suffer from this. It's extremely common, there really is nothing to worry about, unless you are looking to conceive.

You are just a variant of normal.

Perhaps I am being presumptuous, but reading that, do you imagine the doctor was speaking to a man or a woman? Is there a problem with a man's penis or testicles, or is it a woman and her ovaries or womb?

My guess is you thought woman. Because what man would find it acceptable to be told their junk isn't doing quite what they expect it should be doing just because of a syndrome of unknown origin that places them on a spectrum of normal?

And yet.

And yet, twenty percent of women suffer from PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and I'm betting most of them will be (and have been) told pretty much the same thing that was told to me. And the most frightening and unjust thing about it is, that just like me, they simply accepted it.

It took me the 15 minute walk home to go from mildly reassured to absolutely fuming at the realisation that I was not only externally victim to the gender bias that continues to permeate and infect our everyday culture, but that I committed an act of misoginy against myself in not questioning it and assuming that such a response was both normal and acceptable.

No monitoring. No treatment unless I particularly want it but really it's a personal decision. Really? Of course - it just depends how you feel about the symptoms and what you would rather do. How fun for me. I'll just go and make a pros and cons list between one set of symptoms and another, knowing all the while that I shouldn't complain or worry because after all, I'm just a normal woman.

And there's the other thing. Whilst there is no such thing as a normal anyone, culturally speaking there is certainly an idea of a normal woman and it most certainly involves an entirely functioning and uncluttered reproductive system that simply performs its mysterious machinations as it should.

And so if it fails, or doesn't function in quite the uncomplicated and automatic way it should, you no longer get to think of yourself as normal. Because really, if you are a variant of normal, surely that just makes you abnormal?

Culture doesn't take kindly to variations

That was my first reaction, and I hate that it was. That no matter how unserious, correctable and invisible this thing was, it was somehow a beacon to all declaring: 'you are less than a woman, everyone will know just by looking at you.'

To clarify, this has nothing to do with having children, wanting or not wanting them. It is about what culturally defines you as a complete person. As an attractive person. As a normal woman.

And any erring that takes place on the part of our biological reproductive systems and it has been drilled into women to react with panic and shame. So on the one hand the medical profession remains aloof, unconcerned and scant on the details because, well, all women are somewhere 'on a scale' but on the other your diagnosis is nonetheless culturally damning.

Where does that leave us? Where has that left me? Practically speaking I went back the next day and asked some more questions. I got the same answers.

Psychologically, I got mad. Then I decided to write this. To culturally normalise what is apparently already medically normal, I prescribe speaking up, pointing it out and deciding that there is no shame or self-definition in being diagnosed with 'one of those things.'

Of course, I actually prefer to call it PCOS, but hey, I'm just quoting my doctors.