As a woman, dealing with unsightly chin hairs, body aches, and weight gain isn’t always a sign of getting older. Sometimes, these symptoms can indicate a serious underlying health issue.

That’s why women everywhere should be checked for polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. While this disorder is rarely discussed, it affects over 200,000 women each year and can cause numerous health problems. Luckily, there’s a way to curb PCOS before it starts ruining your life.

If you’re having difficulty conceiving, it could be due to PCOS. It’s a leading cause of infertility in women, causing irregular periods and sometimes stops menstruation from occurring at all.

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PCOS also causes excessive body hair. If you notice weird whiskers popping up on your chin or cheeks, or if your body is covered in more hair than normal, ask your doctor about PCOS.

If you’re experiencing unusual amounts of dandruff, acne, or oily skin, it could be a sign of PCOS. This is especially true if you get breakouts before your period.

PCOS could also lead to an unusual weight gain. The hormonal shifts that occur with the disorder can be great enough to put your body into fat-storing mode, especially around the midsection.

If you’re feeling unusually anxious and depressed, the elevated hormonal levels brought on by PCOS might be the culprit. But don’t get discouraged, there are a number of ways you can help alleviate the symptoms of PCOS.

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Improving your diet can make a big difference for those with PCOS. Manage insulin levels by prioritizing low-glycemic foods like vegetables and proteins, and avoid processed foods as much as possible.

Adding an exercise routine into your daily life can combat not only weight gain, but depression and anxiety. Elevated endorphin levels keep you happy and healthy.

Add some magnesium to your diet, too. Magnesium is a mineral that can help reduce stress. In women with PCOS, a magnesium deficiency is common. Fight it by supplementing!

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If the excess hair makes you self-conscious, eliminating it with a laser procedure is an option. Consult with an aesthetician for these procedures.

Don’t be afraid to discuss your experiences with a therapist. A little objective perspective can go a long way, as it can relieve stress and return balance back to your life. Women’s health is a topic that is drastically under-researched and under-discussed. 

As a woman, if you notice something shift in your health it is critical to speak up immediately. Deborah, a happy mother and hotel manager in Porthmadog, Wales, wishes she would have spoken up earlier when things started her health started to decline.

She was in good health and never really worried about getting sick. However, one day Deborah began to develop what she thought was the flu. She dismissed the symptoms at first, but within days she couldn’t walk or talk normally and was rushed to intensive care.

Doctors ran multiple tests on the young mother upon arrival. With her mental and physical state rapidly declining, Deborah’s family grew more worried as they waited to hear something — anything.

Finally, doctors had figured out the cause of Deborah’s debilitating illness: toxic shock syndrome. TSS is a Staphylococcus aureus infection of the bloodstream, and without treatment, those infected will die.

While it’s very rare, TSS is commonly linked to the use of super-absorbent tampons. Women will often use these and accidentally leave them in for an extended period of time, increasing their risk of infection.

Once Deborah was officially diagnosed, doctors put her into a medically induced coma. Though this meant she would not be conscious for the supposed ‘worst stage’, her coma lasted longer than anticipated…

The medical staff’s first two attempts to bring Deborah back had failed. She was then placed on life support and her family — especially her son Joshua — braced themselves for the worst.

A dreadful week after being put on life support, Deborah woke up. Though she still couldn’t function normally, there was a new symptom emerging from the inside that was far worse.

Deborah’s memory had been severely affected. She was unable to remember events for longer than a few weeks at a time, including birthdays and Christmases with her son.

She was “like a child again”, doctors said. Deborah was unable to wash or dress on her own and continually struggled to even recognize her own family.

It’s been a hard road, to say the least, and even four years after her diagnosis, Deborah continues to struggle with memory loss. “TSS has completely taken over my life. It’s like having a permanent hangover every day where you just blank.”

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Deborah continued to express her pain, “I have not remembered a Christmas since, and all the memories I had of it before have been wiped, the whole experience has been heart-breaking.”

The life-threatening infection has even left Deborah with a permanently weaker immune system. But in 2016, she began to make a surprising turn…

She was finally able to recall her son’s birthday. With that, she carries hope to remember Christmas too. “I ‘m determined to get better for Joshua”, she said. Deborah’s story is a warning for women everywhere to always be proactive about their health.

That certainly doesn’t mean tampons should cause fear. In fact, there are ways to see your tamps in a whole different light. Using these 20 DIY hacks to repurpose those little cotton rockets will give men and women alike a whole new respect for tampons.

1. Have you ever been to a ridiculously loud concert? Worked in construction? Been sick and tired of your coworkers yapping all the time? Use two tampons to plug your ears and keep your sanity in check!

2. If you celebrate Christmas, you probably break at least a couple ornaments once a year, and those aren’t easily replaceable. For your next Yuletide activities, try making a soft, unbreakable Christmas tree angel out of your Playtex Pearls.

3. Power outage and out of candles? Drop some oil into a jar, cut a hole in the lid, and connect it all with a tampon. For an extra long burn, use the Super Ultra size. 

4. When you suffer from a nosebleed, you need to tilt your head back… or forward? To be safe, let’s just plug up our nostrils altogether. A small-sized tampon is perfect to plug a small nosebleed, but remember: the more fluid gets absorbed, the bigger this plug will get.

5. Going fishing? That’s the perfect time to recycle any leftover plastic applicators as bobbers! Just please, please make sure you get them out of the water when you’ve got your catch of the day.

6. If you’re ever stranded on an island without a Brita but with a Kotex, you could use it to sort of filter water. Place the tampon straight into a puddle and drink through it like a straw — if you dare. It will filter out most of the dirt and sediment, but not all. Only use this as a last resort.

7. If the tampon filter isn’t solid enough for you, you may want to boil your water. However, it could be hard to keep your matches dry. Place them within a tampon wrapper and find a way to seal it up to keep them safe.

8. Beauty companies are always trying to get you to buy more brushes, sponges, and puffs to blend in your foundation, but don’t buy into that: use a tampon! Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Tampax!

9. If you have a pet, you know the ancient struggle: they won’t care about any fancy toy you buy them, but they’ll love your grocery bags, your delivery boxes, and your tampons. Cats in particular love attacking them like prey and knocking them to every corner in your house. 

10. What’s the one thing no one will want to steal out of your purse? That’s right, an open tampon. Stick your money in the applicator for safe keeping. It can also be your backup cash for when you do hit that time of the month unexpectedly and need to restock… ASAP.

11. You went away for the night on a work trip and forgot your toothbrush but remembered the tampons. You see where this is going… in a bind yes, you can use the cotton interior to scrub your teeth.

12. When a rainy day sneaks up on you, and you’ve got kids going stir crazy inside, it’s time to deploy Operation Arts and Crafts. Look at how one crafty mom used her tampons to make a mobile. 

13. Removing the nail polish from your toenails without messing up your fingernail polish is practically impossible… unless you have a tampon on hand. It’s the most precise cotton ball out there.

14. Make your own jewelry with tiny tampons. MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Patty actually did this on air as a form of political protest. She was fired from the network, but everyone was talking about her look. 

15. Doing an at-home pedicure but out of toe separators? Fear not! Tampons are here to save the day. Simply put them between your toes and get ready for a clean, easy paint job. 

16. Got sweat? Like it or not, everybody sweats. If you find yourself feeling overly warm in the armpit region, simply tuck a tampon under each arm. It will absorb the sweat like a charm. 

17. A tampon can stop any leak, no matter the substance. If you notice that your sink has sprung a leak and the plumber can’t get there for hours, keep your floors dry by temporarily stopping the leak with a tampon. 

18.  In an emergency, you could unroll and flatten a tampon and use it as a bandage for scratches and wounds. You might want to think twice about this trick if you have a face wound, however.

19. For many pet owners, cleaning their dog’s ears is a real hassle. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be with tampons! Remove the cotton batting from the applicator, apply your favorite cleanser and get to work. Ol’ Fido will thank you. 

20. Remembering when your period starts, ends, or how long ago you’ve missed your last one can be a pain in the butt, but it’s easier to remember with a beautiful tampon bookmark!