What is PCOS?
PCOS, or Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a common hormone disorder faced by persons with ovaries worldwide. It is marked by increased levels of specific hormones (androgens and luteinising hormone), cysts in the ovaries, or irregular periods. Having any two out of three of these symptoms is a diagnosis for PCOS. However, because of the lack of knowledge about female reproductive issues, PCOS is one of the most underdiagnosed diseases in the world! It is estimated that less than 25% of people having PCOS have been diagnosed with it. Furthermore, research in this area has been slow and few because women’s health issues are not at the forefront of medical advancement. For example, the causes of PCOS range from genetics to lifestyle habits. Thus, even if a person has been diagnosed with PCOS, it is difficult for them to know the cause behind theirs. With no treatments and cures it’s all the more important for us to support those going through it all year round, and not just during PCOS awareness month.
How can we stay informed?
September was PCOS awareness month during which numerous organisations and corporations conducted outreach activities and educational programs. However, it is important to note that learning is not contained to one month only. It is our duty to stay informed about common disorders so that we do not make quick judgments about them. This Mayo Clinic page is a good resource to learn more about the biology behind PCOS, while the PCOS awareness association is a good place to stay informed about outreach activities and scientific progress.
How can you help?
We reached out to a few of our customers who have PCOS. The most common complaint was being judged for its physical symptoms. Weight gain is a common symptom of PCOS and, unfortunately, body shaming has been ingrained into our daily lives. It is essential for us to remember to not assume or comment on another person’s appearance because we may not know its cause! More importantly, the act of judging a person’s appearance as not being “normal” is something that we all need to consciously work towards quitting. In the eyes of a person with PCOS dealing with their own body being beyond their control, exerting self-control over the judgments we pass is the least that we can do.
How have we tried to help?
Another common symptom of PCOS is facial hair growth. This is because of increased androgens such as testosterone, which can cause excess facial hair, body hair and even acne. We at Switchfix believe that it is a person’s choice to remove their hair and that this, too, is a decision that we all must respect. However, we have found that women who choose to remove their facial hair are often disappointed by the lack of female-specific facial hair removal products. They have had to resort to using ones designed for men, which is not as gentle on the skin.
This is one of the complaints that we kept in mind while designing our Soothing Mylky Way After Shave Mylk. We have used our friend Goodmylk’s oat and cashew mylk, among other gentle ingredients to ensure that all genders across the spectrum and the most sensitive skin types are accounted for. It calms redness, reduces inflammation and moisturises the skin so that post-shave care is as soothing as can be.
What’s the takeaway from PCOS awareness month?
While science and medicine are slowly opening up to understanding female health issues better, we, as individuals, can accelerate gender inclusivity by supporting responsible products, brands and initiatives. Whether it is about saving the planet or making it hospitable for all those living on it, staying educated and informed is the first step towards solving any kind of problem. Spreading PCOS awareness is important but so are our actions. Every individual choice we make about either doing something or not saying something is equally important and of immense value to everyone involved. Stay safe, stay informed and above all, stay kind.
About the author:
Aishwarya is a science communicator passionate about bridging the gap between citizens and research through fun and accessible ways. When she’s not writing articles or recording podcast episodes, you can find her in the field conducting research on menopause for her postgraduate studies. Aishwarya is a customer turned author at The Switch Fix.