Fertility warriors come in all shapes and sizes—PCOS warriors in particular. They can be in our immediate circle, including our neighbors, our friends, or ourselves. And sometimes, they can be someone much further out of our realm—someone in the public spotlight, for instance. One thing those with PCOS have in common is that many of them are not strangers to shame.
Symptoms vary with this condition: depression, weight gain, increased acne, unwanted facial hair growth, periods that stay or disappear for months on end, and infertility. And these are all things that most women aren't comfortable experiencing, never mind sharing with the world.
Bringing the PCOS Conversation Into the Public Eye
Since between five to ten percent of women of childbearing age in the US (roughly five million) have PCOS, you would think that we would hear more about this disease. But fewer than 50 percent of women with PCOS are properly diagnosed, often due to the lack of awareness of PCOS.
Some prominent women have publicly shared their own PCOS diagnosis and struggles, helping to de-stigmatize and raise awareness of this hidden condition. Here are just a few powerful PCOS warriors that raised their voices and spoke out bravely about their experiences.
Whitney Thore reveals her personal story—the moments in her doctor’s office where she was a mother and then she wasn’t any longer, and she invites all of us in to bear witness. The fear of ready or not, the surprise that a pregnancy happened at all, and the disappointment that the pregnancy wasn’t viable—Whitney shares it all. Whitney may not know us, but she allows us to know her. Read about weight and hair for a more complete picture of how PCOS symptoms can present themselves.
Rebecca Atkinson's experience is truly universal. Her symptoms were treated, but the PCOS went undiagnosed for several years. The easy to understand explanation of insulin resistance is a pleasure to read in this article and explains why treating one symptom at a time is like following Alice down the rabbit hole—it leads to a false understanding of the complex nature of PCOS.
Jillian Michaels is in the category of “lean” PCOS. One of the most easily identifiable symptoms of PCOS is excess weight. That’s something a lean PCOS’er doesn’t have. And they often fly under the radar when it comes to diagnosis because of it. Yet, lean PCOS’ers are just as much at risk for the complications that can be present with PCOS, including but not limited to infertility. She is now happily the mama of two children with her partner Heidi Rhoades. And while there’s a rather lot of controversy on how healthy Ms. Michaels’ weight loss and work out programs are, it’s 100% true that healthy exercise and eating are two very beneficial ways of combating some of the PCOS symptoms.
Victoria Beckham—it’s no question that she never wanted to be one of the celebrity faces of PCOS. Not only did she become one, she also became the face of hope as she went on to have four children. PCOS is a major cause of infertility, but it's also treatable, with lifestyle changes high on the list of effective ways of managing this syndrome.
Emma Thompson—this well-known Oscar award winning actress is also a PCOS warrior. She completed her journey towards parenthood using IVF (in vitro fertilization), a fertility treatment protocol that can be very effective in combating infertility caused by PCOS. Ms. Thompson has been open about having PCOS, which in turn has prompted healthy public conversations.
Jaime King faced many obstacles on her road to parenthood. Endometriosis, miscarriage & PCOS were a trifecta that could have spelled failure, except for the persistence & resilience that Ms. King revealed throughout a seven-year struggle of disappointment & heartbreak. Five miscarriages and still she persisted. Fertility warrior, with a big PCOS embroidered on the front of her shield.
All these women had three things in common. PCOS. A desire to parent. And a commitment to themselves that make them all fertility warriors.
How do we even begin to thank the courageous women who take their conversation about PCOS public?
We just say it: thank you!