From suffering with adult acne to fertility issues, these stars have been candid about their struggles dealing with polycystic ovary syndrome
September is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness Month and though 1 in 10 women of childbearing age have PCOS, many of them often go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed, with symptoms being mistaken for something else.
PCOS is a genetic, hormonal, metabolic and reproductive disorder with symptoms including irregular periods, acne, infertility, weight gain and excessive hair growth, per the PCOS Awareness Month website. It's the leading cause of infertility in women and can lead to other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, endometrial cancer and psychological disorders.
“For some of you this may be TMI, but for me, my platform has always been used for things much greater than me,” she said. “Polycystic [ovary] syndrome has been attacking me from the inside out my entire life and I had no idea," she wrote in an Instagram post in December 2020.
"My acne has been so bad that people in my field offered to pay for me to get it fixed. I tried EVERYTHING. I did Accutane TWICE. People say drink water, have a better diet, but I did all that, I ate all the 'right' things, my blood tests were fine," she continued.
But the most frustrating part for the actress was the fact that she had to take matters into her own hands before professionals got to the root of her severe acne. She wrote, “This especially makes me sad because my family struggled for years and no doctor could help them, they actually misled them and just took their money."
“It’s only because of what my family sacrificed that allows me to even have the resources to share the information I’m sharing with you," she added. "Their fight out of poverty gave me a better life and I just want to share what I learn.”
"I definitely struggle with my weight and I struggle with the way that I look, and it's been tough for me," she admitted.
"I just found out recently that I have PCOS and a lot of women have it. And a lot of women have it and don't know," Rexha said, while noting that weight gain is a common symptom she's dealt with. "It's tough. I think for me, I've been definitely struggling with my weight and I've been struggling with food forever."
She continued, "I remember starting out and getting my first record deal, they kind of put it in my head and they said to me when I first got signed, 'Are you ready to get into bootcamp shape? Because you need to lose 20 lbs. in order to do this career. Like you have to lose weight.' "
Though Francia Raisa didn't open up too much about her PCOS diagnosis back in August, she did offer up a resource for her fans who may be going through it.
"My friend wrote a book about PCOS," she wrote in an Instagram Story, next to a photo with Living with PCOS: Road to Reversal author Candice Craig. "I also have PCOS and still learning how to live with it. Thanks for this @candice."
Like Palmer, Lea Michele noticed significant body changes and went through the wringer before she was officially diagnosed.
“Growing up, I had terrible skin. I went on Accutane three times. I was put on every medication that you could imagine to help my skin. Luckily, birth control was a savior for me when I was in my teens. And then when I was in my late 20s, I realized I wanted to detox my body of all medications. That’s when everything happened — the return to bad skin and, this time, weight gain,” she told Health back in 2019. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
She continued, “All people wanted to do was give me more medication. I don’t shun people for needing or wanting to take medication, but for me, I knew something wasn’t right. I just felt medication wasn’t going to be the final cure.”
Michele kept searching for a doctor, eventually finding someone who recognized her symptoms.
“I went to a great doctor, and the minute she looked at me, she was like, 'Oh, you have PCOS.' It explained everything,” Michele said. “Through diet, I have been able to manage it. But I am very fortunate. There are way more extreme versions of PCOS that women have a lot of difficulty with."
In 2016, Daisy Ridley opened up about how dealing with PCOS and endometriosis affected her body image.
"At 15 I was diagnosed with endometriosis. One laparoscopy, many consultations and 8 years down the line, pain was back (more mild this time!) and my skin was THE WORST," the actress posted on Instagram, per Teen Vogue. "I've tried everything: products, antibiotics, more products, more antibiotics and all that did was left my body in a bit of a mess. Finally found out I have polycystic ovaries and that's why it's bad. I can safely say feeling so self-conscious has left my confidence in tatters."
She also encouraged everyone to take the time out to listen to their bodies, writing, "To any of you who are suffering with anything, go to a doctor; pay for a specialist; get your hormones tested, get allergy testing; keep on top of how your body is feeling and don't worry about sounding like a hypochondriac."
Jillian Michaels has battled PCOS since she was a teenager — and her journey with the condition was scary.
“I discovered it because I had a cyst burst on one of my ovaries,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. "I felt like I was living a scene in Alien ... where the creature comes out of your body. My mom thought my appendix was bursting, rushed me to the emergency room," she told the outlet.
"They ran all these tests, checked for internal bleeding and they found something called cul-de-sac fluid where the fluid from the cyst gets trapped somewhere on the stomach lining or something."
Doctors put the future fitness guru on birth control, which she stopped taking because she didn't want to be on the pill at the time. Unfortunately, another cyst burst when Michaels was 21 years old, at which point she began trying to understand the root cause.
"Instead of throwing more drugs at the problem, I looked at why the problem exists. [PCOS] is linked to insulin resistance and by changing my diet, I could sensitize my body to insulin," she told the outlet.
Michaels cut out fake and processed sugars, processed grains and any other foods that would skyrocket her insulin levels.
In a lengthy Instagram post detailing her motherhood journey, the "Ex's & Oh's" singer opened up about the amount of work she's put in to fend off depression and get back to a healthier headspace.
“I am making this post to share my journey from 284 lbs at 5’3 from pregnancy 2021 - now 2023,” she began. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It didn’t even happen in a year for me. In fact, it’s an ongoing, still working towards ever-changing goals kinda thing.”
King went on to let her fans know that every day isn't an ace, writing, "Some days I count stretch marks. Some days I hug myself and say thank you to my body. Today is a kind day. I’ve been tiny, I’ve been huge, BUT RIGHT NOW I’M HEALTHY.'”
King further divulged personal details about her health and cleared up any rumors regarding her weight loss: “I can’t believe that I even have to say this, but no, I am not on any weight loss medication. I have PCOS and I am pre-diabetic. My diabetic grandfather died when I was 10 years old. I watched him prick his finger and give himself shots. I do not judge anyone who is trying to live a healthier life.”
"Every time I go out, someone says to me 'Are you pregnant,' and at first I tried to dodge these questions with a vague response and a smile, but now, I have resorted to overt, brutal honesty," she told Now Magazine, per Cosmopolitan.
"I keep that big smile and say something like, 'Actually, I’m struggling with infertility because of my PCOS, so my husband and I have been through several fertility treatments. No baby yet, but it’ll happen soon!' "
Model Romee Strijd's baby announcement doubled as an opportunity to open up about her struggle with PCOS.
"WE’RE HAVING A BABY 💗," she began the poignant Instagram post before revealing, "2 years ago I got diagnosed with PCOS after not getting my period for 7 years. I was devastated because being a mom and starting a family with @laurensvleeuwen is my biggest dream."
She also revealed that her type of PCOS was caused by the fact that her "body was under constant stress" between "traveling all the time (no biorhythm), working out every day [and] eating super clean (restricting foods)."
In an interview with Health, Nikki Garcia opened up about her fears dealing with polycystic ovary syndrome and how it could affect her chances of having a baby.
Though she admitted she wasn't ready to have kids at the time, the possibility of PCOS affecting her fertility was still scary for the Total Bellas star.
“I also found out I have PCOS — it kills your fertility,” she told the magazine. “I’m getting brown spots all over my face, acne, weight fluctuations and hair loss.”
“I actually just found out and was devastated. You research it, and there is no cure,” she added at the time. “I just pray I have some fertile eggs left and that I can still be a mom. So, yes, I do feel like being a mom is in my future. I am just not sure how soon.”
Garcia and her husband Artem Chigvintsev happily welcomed son Matteo Artemovich on July 31, 2020.
During an appearance on an episode of The Squeeze podcast — which is hosted by Taylor Lautner and his wife Taylor Dome Lautner — Sasha Pieterse shared how she was experiencing symptoms of PCOS long before she received a diagnosis.
"This is part of the health issues that I was speaking of while I was going through Pretty Little Liars," Pieterse said. "The changes that were happening to me were documented on camera."
"I never had a regular period ever and I was just always told by gynecologists that I was just young. Like, ‘Don't worry, it'll regulate,' ” she recalled, noting that it never did. “When I turned, it was probably around 15 or 16, that I started noticing a difference in just my metabolism in general. At 17, I gained 70 lbs. in the year, for no reason. There was no explanation for it."
Pieterse said she visited “over 15 gynecologists” but felt like she wasn’t being heard, with one doctor even claiming she was lying about the weight gain and that she must be eating unhealthy and making poor lifestyle decisions.
Finally, The Perfectionists actress was diagnosed with PCOS.
"I was like, 'What's that?' I'd never heard of PCOS before. And it's a disease, it's not curable, it can be dormant, that's — at this stage — that's what they know," she said. "And the most frustrating part about this is that it's fairly easy to diagnose. And really what it is, it's a hormone imbalance, it's a hormone disease and it's so easy to see because your testosterone or your estrogen will be really high, you'll have really low vitamin D levels, you'll be deficient in a lot of things."
Actress Jaime King was very candid about her difficult journey to welcoming her baby boy James Knight. Before she and ex-husband Kyle Newman conceived the now 10-year-old, King miscarried five times and went through multiple rounds of IVF.
“For all the struggling women & moms out there that think they are alone – This is the truth about conceiving my son and struggles after. 8 yrs of pain and undiagnosed PCOS & Endometriosis,” she wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.
“9 doctors until Dr. Randy Harris diagnosed me & saved my life from a severe ectopic, 5 miscarriages, 5 rounds of IVF, 26 IUI’s, most with no outcome, 4½ years of trying to conceive, 26 hours of brutal labor, early delivery b/c of sudden preeclampsia, tearing and tearing after the stitches were in once I was home, milk supply issues, painful mastitis, uncontrollable crying while breastfeeding, worked until the day before I [gave] birth and went back after 6 weeks after because I was afraid of letting others down," she continued.
The former couple later welcomed a second baby boy named Leo Thames.
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