Social media isn’t always about trying to create the illusion of a perfect life (though it often is). Sometimes, it allows people to open up to the public in a way they normally wouldn’t.
Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley recently revealed her struggle with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in an Instagram post last week. In the post, she talked about getting diagnosed with endometriosis at 15, finding out about her PCOS and the symptoms of both conditions and the treatment and support she’s received since then.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is a complex condition characterised by the development of multiple cysts in and on the ovaries which can cause a wide variety of signs and symptoms including the inability to ovulate or produce an egg.
Ovulation can be felt by some women as a mild to moderate pain known as mittelschmerz (German for middle pain) as the egg is released from the ovary at the middle of the menstrual cycle. A blood test is usually required to confirm whether ovulation has taken place in cases of infertility.
PCOS can also cause excessive hair growth on the face, weight gain and jaw line acne. This is due to the increased secretion of androgens – hormones which control male characteristics such as testosterone – from the ovaries.
While the causes are mostly unknown, insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity are all strongly linked with PCOS. Long term use of the oral contraceptive pill may also contribute to the increased incidence of PCOS.
Paeony is a plant which produces large and often scented blossoms which is one of the symbolic flowers featured in traditional Chinese art. Legend has it that the peony plant likes to be left alone and punishes those who try to move it or prune it excessively by not flowering again for several years.
Its use in herbal medicine comes from a compound paeoniflorin which is found in the root. Paeony has shown to significantly decrease testosterone levels in women with PCOS by acting on the ovaries and stimulating the conversion of testosterone to a form of oestradiol, a form of oestrogen.
“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.” Daisy Ridley.
PCOS responds well to a combination of herbal and nutritional medicine along with dietary and lifestyle support. Treatment should be aimed at addressing both the cause as well as controlling the symptoms.