13 Celebrities Speak Honestly about Living with PCOS

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You've probably heard of PCOS, (or polycystic ovary syndrome) a condition that is thought to affect one in 10 women in the UK and which can result in symptoms including acne, excess body hair, weight gain and issues with fertility. For some people impacted, they will have myriad symptoms that are severe, others may have only one or two signs, and they may be more subtle.

'PCOS is a condition which can affect the female reproductive organs,' explains Mr Sachchidananda Maiti, a Consultant Gynaecologist and Obstetrician at Pall Mall Medical.

There is no cure, as such, but symptoms can be treated and managed via medications and lifestyle adjustments.

'It’s believed that PCOS can be caused by hormone imbalances [high levels of androgens, the "male" hormones in your body, including testosterone], a resistance to insulin or genetics.'

So, if your mum dealt with PCOS, then that might be an indicator that you could develop the condition. 'PCOS runs in families,' says Professor Adam Balen, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and chair of the British Fertility Society (BFS).

'If a woman has a relative who is affected by the condition, her risk of developing it is often increased.'

As ever, opening up this conversation is key to normalising the (very common) issue. To that end, WH has rounded up celebrities who've spoken out about their personal experiences of PCOS – from diagnosis and symptoms, to how they manage their polycystic ovary syndrome with diet and lifestyle.

1. Jillian Michaels

Celebrity trainer and former Women's Health cover star, Jillian Michaels, has spoken out living with both PCOS and endometriosis, and how struggles with infertility led her to adoption.

Jillian has even written a blog post on her own website where she talks about how she manages her symptoms with lifestyle tweaks, such as regular exercise and a diet centered around wholegrains, vegetables, protein and fruit.

2. Sasha Pieterse

Former Pretty Little Things actress Sasha spoke to People Magazine about her PCOS after the birth of her child.

‘Just the fact that we were able to get pregnant was such a blessing because with PCOS that made me nervous.’

‘A lot of women have infertility issues and so we were expecting more difficulty, so it's been an absolute blessing that we were able to just get pregnant by ourselves.’

3. Harnaam Kaur

Model and activist Harnaam's iconic full beard is a result of living with PCOS. At 16, Kaur was baptised Sikh, which meant a commitment to letting her hair grow out in accordance with religious beliefs.

‘When I was growing up, I didn’t see anyone in magazines or on TV that looked like me,’ she told Stylist magazine. ‘That can have a horrid effect on a person’s mental health. I was 16 years old when I decided to grow my facial hair. I made the decision after my GSCEs and let it grow out over the six-week summer holiday. So when I returned to my school in Slough for the sixth form, I was a girl with a beard.’

‘It took several years for me to reach the point where I felt able to do this, and it was bullies that had pushed me to that point. Indian people can be quite hirsute anyway, and I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which is a hormonal disorder affecting one in 10 women worldwide.’

4. Lea Michele

Actress Lea Michele has been very open about her experience of living with PCOS. ‘I went to a great doctor, and the minute she looked at me, she was like, "Oh, you have PCOS." It explained everything,’ she told Health.com.

‘Through diet, I have been able to manage. But I am very fortunate. There are way more extreme versions of PCOS that women have a lot of difficulty with—mine is not as intense.’

5. Daisy Ridley

Daisy Ridley addressed her experience with PCOS on Instagram when sharing her struggles with acne that came as a symptom of her condition. ‘At 15 I was diagnosed with endometriosis,’ she wrote. ‘One laparoscopy, many consultations and 8 years down the line, pain was back (more mild this time!) and my skin was THE WORST. 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.’

‘With some help from a dermatologist and cutting out dairy (waah, except for spontaneous ice creams) and cutting down sugar (bigger waah but gotta do what you've gotta do). Finally. Finally. (Throughout all this I've only had people being wonderful and encouraging and occasionally making me realise I'm being ridiculous and there's more to life)...

'My point is, 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. From your head to the tips of your toes we only have one body, let us all make sure ours our working in tip top condition, and take help if it's needed.’

6. Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham was diagnosed with PCOS while trying to get pregnant with her fourth child, Harper.

‘I [was] really feeling the … pressure. 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,’ Beckham reportedly told Now magazine at the time.

‘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!’

7. Jaime King

‘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 & Endometrisis,’ Jaime revealed on Instagram.

‘The way that it started was I was diagnosed with endometriosis and PCOS when I was 20. And I went undiagnosed for a really long time,’ revealed Jamie. ‘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." '

8. Keke Palmer

Another celebrity to speak about her experience with PCOS is actress Keke Palmer. She wrote on Instagram; ‘Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome has been attacking me from the inside out my entire life and I had no idea. 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 [acne medication] 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. The least harmful thing PCOS can bring is acne. To all the people struggling with this please know you’re not alone and that you are still so f*****g fine! MY ACNE AINT NEVER STOPPED ME.’

9. Alaia Baldwin

Alaia Baldwin – sister to Hailey Bieber – is refreshingly open about her experience with both endometriosis and PCOS on Instagram, sharing reels and videos explaining her diagnosis, symptoms and management of the conditions.

‘I also have PCOS on top of my endometriosis,’ she explained on Instagram in October 2021. ‘My symptoms were based on my insulin resistance, which included weight gain, extreme body swelling, hair growth on my face and cysts. It was hard to diagnose since I also have endo.’

10. Romee Strijd

Victoria's Secret model Romee Strijd opened up about her PCOS diagnosis when she shared her pregnancy news via Instagram.

‘Two years ago I got diagnosed with PCOS after not getting my period for seven years. I was devastated because being a mom and starting a family with @laurensvanleeuwen is my biggest dream. I was so scared that I would never be able to because I got told it was harder to get babies in a natural way.

After working out an exercise and diet plan that helped her to manage her symptoms, Romee revealed: 'I got my period back last November AND WE’RE SOON A FAMILY OF THREE.’

12. Nikki Bella

Speaking about her pregnancy journey via her Total Bellas podcast, former professional wrestler Nikki Bella shared her experience of PCOS. ‘I go to the doctor, I find out that I have very high testosterone and very low estrogen and I have PCOS.’

‘They told me that the day I would want to have babies, I probably would actually need help. I was in the discussion of freezing my eggs. It was right around Halloween, a day or so after, [and Artem Chigvintsev and I had unprotected sex] two nights straight in the moment because I’m like, 'I can’t get pregnant. I need help.’’ Nikki gave birth to son Matteo in July 2020.

13. Frankie Bridge

In October 2020 Frankie Bridge shared her diagnosis with PCOS via Instagram stories.

‘I’ve just found out actually that I’ve got polycystic ovaries,’ she explained. ‘I had loads of blood tests done a few weeks ago because I was getting irregular periods, I was getting really bad PMT, I was getting really cyst-y spots and really bad skin. I was finding it hard to lose weight, even though I was eating healthily. Loads of reasons, really – and I found out last week that that’s why.’

‘It goes on different scales, so I’m not on top of the scale, [I’m] quite near the bottom but it just kind of really explains everything.’

What should you do, if you think you have PCOS?

Think you might be affected by PCOS? Head to see your GP.

For a PCOS diagnosis to occur, you need to present with two of the following: irregular periods or no periods at all; polycystic ovaries (as shown by an ultrasound scan); and high levels of androgen hormones (as determined by a blood test).

Your doctor may book you in for lab tests – checks on blood sugar and androgen levels – are common. Plus, an internal scan may also be done to evaluate the ovaries.

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