Laura Firth is putting the focus on PCOS warriors this September
September is polycystic ovarian syndrome awareness month, and a Murraylands mum is celebrating the strength of women fighting the condition.
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September is PCOS Awareness Month, and Murray Bridge mother Laura Firth is focusing her conversations – and her camera lens – on the condition.
Ms Firth created a photo shoot to celebrate all women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, and to capture their strength through her own.
“I call us PCOS warriors because every day is a battle,” Ms Firth said.
“Photography has been a hobby of mine my whole life, so it was a natural fit.
“I’ll see old friends from high school, and they’ll tell me they always remember me with a camera in my hand … it’s not something I ever thought about until now, but it’s true.”
PCOS is a hormonal condition that causes woman to grow cysts on their ovaries.
These cysts are partially formed follicles, each containing an egg that has not grown or matured for fertilisation.
The condition affects 8–13 per cent of women of reproductive age, with almost 70 per cent of cases remaining undiagnosed.
Women with PCOS are likely to have high levels of insulin that are ineffective, or male hormones known as androgens, or a combination of both.
Symptoms include excess facial or body hair growth, scalp hair loss, acne, fluctuating weight, insomnia, irregular menstruation, infertility and the development of diabetes.
As a result, those with PCOS can struggle to maintain good mental health.
“Because of all those symptoms, it’s really common for women with PCOS to have depression and anxiety,” Ms Firth said.
“I have my low days … one minute you’re high as a kite and then it just switches, and you can feel yourself plummeting, and the anxiety starts to build up.
“It’s important to have a really good support system … my mum, husband and son are my cheer squad.
“My husband has been so supportive … we’ve seen each other at our best and our worse, so it’s made us stronger.”
Ms Firth said her struggle to fall pregnant due to having the condition was another source of “constant heartache”.
After multiple rounds of IVF, she has endured five miscarriages.
Her only successful pregnancy lasted 25 weeks and four days, but one of her twin sons tragically died at 12 days after contracting a bacterial infection.
Ms Firth decided to therefore include her surviving son Harley, seven, in the photoshoot – “he is an important part of my journey”.
Ms Firth wanted to let other women living with PCOS know they are not alone.
“I would love to start a local support group for women suffering with PCOS, like a walking group,” she said.
“I want to help as many women as a I can, and to push awareness for PCOS.”
Although it has not been an easy road, Ms Firth acknowledged that the condition has made her stronger as a person.
“Every time something new comes up, we take it on as a new challenge,” she said.
“You go out there and you put on your armour on … you allow yourself to grieve when you need to, but then you focus on what you need to get done.”
More information about PCOS: www.jeanhailes.org.au.
Get help: Talk to your GP or call Jean Hailes for Women’s Health on 1800 532 642. For mental health issues, you can also contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or, in an emergency, 000.
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