Millennials turn to Instagram to spread awareness about PCOS

PCOS is estimated to effect 10 million women globally
Last Updated 17 August 2021, 07:06 IST
Two Broke Girls With PCOS (@twobrokegirlswithpcos)
Two Broke Girls With PCOS (@twobrokegirlswithpcos)

One in five Indian women suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). A common endocrinal system disorder among women of reproductive age.

PCOS was described as early as 1935. However, even today there is a general lack of awareness regarding the condition in India and it often remains undetected for years.

In an attempt to break this stigma and unawareness surrounding PCOS, Indian women have come together to build a strong community online to support and educate people on everything to do with PCOS.

Metrolife spoke to some of these women, about their PCOS journey and their work on Instagram.

PCOS To Health India (@pcostohealth)

The popular PCOS healthcare page was founded by Suchita A Mukerji, an entrepreneur and nutritionist, who was diagnosed with PCOS at 19. “When I was first diagnosed it was very confusing, I didn’t know what was happening. I wasn’t really aware of what PCOS was back then. When I first heard of the term from the doctor, I immediately turned to google to learn more. Which in hindsight wasn’t really a good idea because the search results scared me even more. It was basically the word ‘infertility’ pasted in bold lettering all over the internet,” says Suchita.

Hailing from a family with a Medicinal and Ayurveda background, Suchita decided to finally go back to her roots and better her lifestyle in the most natural way after having tried a plethora of western medicines prescribed by doctors. While the medication worked, they also came with a long list of side effects she said.

When she returned to India after studying in California, she delved deep into Ayurveda and natural medicine, trying her best to figure out what worked best to manage symptoms of PCOS.

She started her Instagram page in late 2019, to spread awareness on the topic and have the truth about the condition out in the open.

An Instagram reel posted by her on the page depicting what dealing with PCOS is really like, went viral and soon the Instagram page grew in followers exponentially. Today Suchita has built a strong community of women online, by educating society on the topic and sharing her own PCOS journey.

She says, “The response on the page was overwhelming. There were so many young girls opening up about their struggles and looking for answers. One of the reasons the page is doing so well right now is because we’ve created a platform where you can gain all the information you need and bust myths, away from the taboo and stigma the society surrounds PCOS with. Our society needs spaces like these.” Suchita also recently launched her own herbal PCOS tea, a concoction of 11 ayurvedic herbs like peppermint, cinnamon, ginger root, ashwagandha and spearmint, and is set to launch more PCOS healthcare products in the future.

Two Broke Girls With PCOS (@twobrokegirlswithpcos)

This Instagram page is run by two millennial best friends Teresa Boban and Namrata George. Among the duo, it was Teresa who was first diagnosed with PCOS, “I skipped my period for three months in 2018 and that’s how my PCOS journey started. At that time, I wasn’t even aware of what PCOS was or why my body was acting the way it was acting. Throughout the three months I was extremely nauseous, having heart palpitations and extremely tired always,” she says.

After being diagnosed, Teresa went on to make several lifestyle changes. “I was told that focus on losing weight and that should help deal with the PCOS, so I changed my lifestyle, cut out dairy and carbohydrates, genuinely made an effort to live a healthier life,” she adds.

A few months after Teresa was diagnosed, Namrata too started noticing one particular symptom.

“I had unproblematic skin my entire life, until one day in mid-2019 I woke with a huge pimple on my face. This had never happened before, it puzzled me,” she says. Namrata had neither missed a single period nor did she ever deal with weight issues. When the acne didn’t reduce, she decided to visit a doctor on a hunch and her intuition turned out to be true.

“This just shows that PCOS is different for different people. Not everyone has the symptoms and not every body reacts to the condition the same way,” she adds.

So began the journey of two girls, figuring out PCOS, their relationship with it and most importantly what works best for their body.

As they continued to make lifestyle changes both in their professional and personal life and noticed a positive difference, they thought it would be a good idea to document their journey on Instagram. “We thought why not move our journey to a bigger platform. Mainly because it was astonishing how unaware our society is about PCOS even to this day,” says Teresa

They set-up the Instagram page for women to learn about the condition and help them navigate through it as there is not much information available in Indian society.

Over the years, the ladies have had to also deal with the stigma that comes along with PCOS.

“There is huge stigma related to PCOS. I noticed this stigma in my own family. People often even refuse to acknowledge it due to its association with infertility. We wanted to tell women, that is not all PCOS is about, there are so many more layers to it,” Teresa explains.

“We’re not medical professionals. This is why we don’t give any medical advice on our page. We focus on healthy lifestyle habits, what we’ve tried and what has worked for us. We just want to share our experience with our fellow “cyst-ers” so they aren’t as clueless as we once were,” adds Namrata.

Doctor’s POV

Metrolife spoke to Dr Razia Siraj, Gynaecology and Childcare Specialist, to get her opinion on this topic.

Is it advisable for people to receive health care information from a social media platform?

You can get your information from anywhere, but the onus is on you to do the necessary research to figures what is true or false. Medical professionals exist for this very reason.

With regard to PCOS, it’s a very complex condition, there are different variations of it, what works for one might not work for another. You need to keep this in mind before you blindly follow what you see on social media.

Can herbal teas help manage the symptoms of PCOS?

Scientifically, yes it can help manage symptoms. I’ve had many patients for whom such teas have greatly helped. But, there is a misconception that these PCOS teas can cure the condition. That is false, they can only help you keep the symptoms in check.

Also, important to note that, these teas don’t work positively on every body-type. You need to consult a doctor first and figure what works best for your body.

Are PCOS cases still on the rise in Bengaluru?

The number of PCOS patients I deal with on a regular basis is still increasing every month. This can be due to the unhealthy and stagnant city life, especially during the lockdown.

Another aspect that can be accounted for the continuous rise in cases is the fact that people are more aware of the condition today than they were ever before. We might have these young women who are spreading awareness on the issue to thank for that.

(Published 26 March 2021, 19:36 IST)

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