Celebs such as Lalla Hirayama, Zandile Msutwana and Keke Palmer have opened up about their struggles with PCOS.

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It’s one of the leading causes of infertility.

And, when the syndrome is present, other serious conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endometrial cancer are almost 100% sure to follow.

Yet it’s hard to know when you have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) since the symptoms are so easy to dismiss, as they seem so harmless.

There is the facial hair, thinning scalp hair, the excessive sweatiness, struggle to fall pregnant and inexplicable weight gain – common struggles women of child-bearing age face.

Having chin hairs or a beard as a woman, for example, can be considered normal and attractive in some cultures. 

But when you do need to worry about your facial hair is when it comes with other symptoms indicating a medical issue such as PCOS, which can lead to infertility, gestational diabetes and endometrial cancer when left untreated.

Actress Zandile Msutwana is one of many celebs who have opened up about their struggles with PCOS.

She shared on Instagram that she’d noticed that she had excessive hair growth on her face, which was quite pronounced on screen.

So she decided to see a doctor.

“Results were back with PCOS, and the first thing he said was I won’t be able to conceive,” the star said when she was 39 years old.

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In an interview on Metro FM in 2018, DJ and TV personality Lalla Hirayama also revealed she was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 27.

“When I was diagnosed with this I didn’t realize I had been living with it my whole life, well since at least when I was a teenage,” Lalla said, speaking on the Fresh breakfast radio show.

It was only when her hair started falling out and she was experiencing extreme breakouts did she realize something was amiss.

The model and media personality says she then went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with the fertility issue that even English designer and super model Victoria Beckham and actress Keke Palmer have opened up about it in the past.

PCOS is considered one of the most common endocrine disorders in women of reproductive age.

These are the symptoms that may indicate you could have PCOS:

  • Hair loss,
  • Acne, 
  • Weight gain, 
  • Darkening of skin, especially in neck creases, groin area and underneath breasts
  • Skin tags,
  • Irregular menstrual cycle, and/or 
  • Struggling to fall pregnant

“Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that affects one in 10 women of childbearing age,” according to the US Office on Women’s Health (OWH).

“Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect their overall health and appearance. PCOS is also a common and treatable cause of infertility.”

Unfortunately, there is no available cure for PCOS. You can, however, manage the symptoms or conditions that it causes.

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“You and your doctor will work on a treatment plan based on your symptoms, your plans for having children, and your risk of long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease,” says the OWH.

“Following a Mediterranean-style diet has been found to steady blood sugar, reverse insulin resistance and is most effective for weight loss,” according to VitaGene, online stockists of professional-grade health and skincare products.

What to avoid?

To manage the syndrome, VitaGene advises, avoid the following:

  • Sugar;
  • Empty carbs;
  • Dairy;
  • Alcohol;
  • Caffeine; and
  • Over-restricting

“Restrictive eating is not recommended for PCOS. Restriction leads to activation of your stress response, which in turn leads to increased cortisol, insulin and insulin resistance. Over time, this can cause weight gain and exacerbate inflammation and confused food signalling.”

Sources: VitaGene; drum.co.za; pcosawarenessmonth.org; www.womenshealth.gov

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