The Common Hormonal Disorder Doctors Can’t Figure Out

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is an endocrine condition that affects up to one in 10 womenbut doctors have been struggling for years to know how to diagnose it

Magdalena Puniewska


Illustration by Haleigh Mun

TTara Teschke knew something was wrong even before she went to the doctor. After years of regular menstrual cycles, her periods had become painful and sporadic. Around the same time, she was hoping to lose weight before her upcoming wedding but was having trouble, even after implementing an intense regimen of running 10Ks and weight lifting several times a week.

The first few doctors she saw chalked up her symptoms to a thyroid issue, and urged her to slim down, a response that left her frustrated. “When someone tells you, ‘Just lose weight,’ but you’re really doing everything you can and in pain, you just start to crumble,” says Teschke, a 36-year-old writer and musician from Austin, Texas. “I felt like all they saw was my weight, not my symptoms.”

She kept seeing different doctors, trying in vain to learn what was wrong. Two years later, in 2014, one physician mentioned she might have a hormonal disorder known as polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, but wouldn’t run the tests necessary for a diagnosis because Teschke didn’t…