Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a very common hormonal disorder. But many women don’t learn that they have it until they are having difficulty getting pregnant. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it’s thought to be genetic and run in families (Gee, thanks mom).
Symptoms vary from person to person, but a few characteristics are irregular periods, excess androgens and polycystic ovaries. Obesity is also common in women with PCOS.
Although PCOS affects everyone differently, excess body or facial hair, acne and weight gain can cause women to be embarrassed or depressed. Add infertility into the mix and the negative feelings increase.
Celebrities have PCOS too
Since PCOS affects up to 10% of women of reproductive age, it’s inevitable that celebrities are also affected. Thankfully many are opening up about it. By sharing their stories, they’re shining a light on a very common disorder. Reducing the stigma helps women identify with their symptoms and can help them seek medical treatment sooner. It also shows that you can still have a rich, fulfilling life, regardless of your diagnosis.
Here’s what 8 celebrities have to say about living with PCOS
Victoria Beckham –was diagnosed with PCOS during a routine checkup while trying to get pregnant with her fourth child. When pressured with questions on if she was pregnant yet, the former Spice Girl told CelebsNow, “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!’
Jaime King – the actress, activist and entrepreneur decided to share her story after the birth of her first child in 2013. Although she was ecstatic after years of trying, when the tabloids shared the news of her son’s birth, she felt something was missing.
In a 2019 interview she said, “I was diagnosed with endometriosis and PCOS when I was 20,” explaining why she decided to use her platform for good. “And I went undiagnosed for a really long time. I lost my first baby at that age. And I continued to miscarry and miscarry, and it took many years for me to have my first child, and when I was going through this, I cannot explain what it felt like — that this one thing that we’re told as women is that our gift is that we can carry life, and all of a sudden someone says, ‘Oh, maybe that might be in question.’”
Sasha Pieterse – after being diagnosed with PCOS, the Pretty Little Liars star told Entertainment Tonight that she hoped her personal story will shed light on this often overlooked condition. “What I want [is] for people to have awareness because so many women have it and they don’t know,” she said. That’s especially important, she explained, because having PCOS raises your risk for ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and breast cancer.”
Jillian Michaels – the fitness coach was diagnosed in her teens. “I [was told I] had PCOS… at a young age. I didn’t know if I wanted kids so I didn’t really care,” she told Redbook. “Then I got older, and I watched friends go through IVF, with years of hormones and devastation and disappointment, and I remember thinking, God wants something different for me.” She credits managing her symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes.
Lea Michele – growing up, the Glee star had terrible skin and was put on many medications to help. She explains to Health.com, “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. I didn’t know what was going on. . . I went to a great doctor, and the minute she looked at me, she was like, ‘Oh, you have PCOS.’ It explained everything. Through diet, I have been able to manage it.”
Daisy Ridley – the Star Wars actress shared in a 2016 Instagram post the long journey to her diagnosis; and the self-consciousness and anxiety that often go hand in hand with the symptoms. She advises, “From your head to the tips of your toes we only have one body, let us all make sure ours [are] working in tip top condition, and take help if it’s needed.”
Rebecca Atkinson – the Shameless star was diagnosed after her makeup artists suggested she might have PCOS. As a teen her skin was clear, but into her twenties she developed cysts along her jawline. Initially her doctor prescribed acne medication, but on her insistence he ran more tests which confirmed the condition. After her diagnosis she started researching online and realized she had symptoms for years. She recalled, “I’d always suffered irregular periods, sometimes as long as nine months in between, but it never worried me. I did a lot of dancing, which kept me thin”.
Harnaam Kaur – gained notoriety because she grew a full beard; the result of hirsutism – a symptom of her PCOS. As a teen she would wax or shave three times a week to remove her facial hair because she was frequently the target of bullying. Today, she accepts herself as she is. In an interview with Rock N Roll Bride, she reflects on her decision to keep her beard:
“I decided I wanted to be me. I decided to keep my beard and step forward against society’s expectations of what a woman should look like. . . Today I am happy living as a young beautiful bearded woman. I have realized that this body is mine, I own it, I do not have any other body to live in so I may as well love it unconditionally.”