Taking Charge of Your Health

Hi everyone, my name is Wajihah and I’m a peer health educator with HEART Women & Girls and I’m here today to talk to y’all about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome also known as PCOS, or “P-Cos” Song: “Eucalyptus – MF Doom” PCOS manifests itself differently from person
to person. This video is just a general overview of the
disorder. Also for the sake of communicability, I will
be using the term “woman” to refer to anyone with ovaries, although I do recognize
that this language is limiting. The cause of PCOS is a bit of a mystery and
there still needs to be a lot more research done on the condition. But, what we do know is that it appears to
be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Factors that can increase one’s risk are obesity
and/or having a family member that has or had PCOS. PCOS is a disorder caused by a hormonal imbalance. It’s one of the most common endocrine disorders,
affecting about 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. South Asian and Arab women are particularly
at risk of being affected, according to recent research. PCOS is also the most common cause of infertility
and can cause a number of symptoms that affect the body both emotionally and physically. But, don’t be discouraged! Although there isn’t a cure just yet, there
are plenty of treatments that can help manage the symptoms. Early diagnosis is key, so it’s important
to know what indicators to look out for. Many would be surprised to know that men have
some female reproductive hormones, and females have some male reproductive hormones. It’s this balance of hormones that maintains
the reproductive systems of both men and women. But when a woman begins to produce too much
androgen, or male hormones, she can be developing PCOS. Although this factor alone does not determine
whether or not someone has PCOS, it can be an indicator. Symptoms can begin shortly after puberty,
but can also develop during later teen years and early adulthood. Symptoms can sometimes be attributed to other
causes or go unnoticed which may lead to misdiagnosis. There are many symptoms that vary from person
to person, but the common symptoms include: If you go to your medical provider to discuss
your symptoms, they may refer you to: Here at HEART Women & Girls, we strongly believe
that you should and can be an advocate for your health! As an active participant in your health care,
you can use the knowledge provided by medical providers and outside resources to make informed
choices about your body that work for you and your circumstance. During your appointments, don’t hesitate
to ask questions or for clarification. It might be beneficial to come with a list
of questions prepared beforehand. I will link to an example of some questions
that might be helpful. And remember, it does not hurt to get a second
or even a third opinion. [Voiceover, with list:] There are quite a few treatments and medications
out there for people with PCOS! Depending on your symptoms, your medical provider
may suggest: Some common medications prescribed are: These are just to name a few treatments and
medications that exist, but there are many others. Many women have also reported beneficial results
from homeopathic treatments such as acupuncture and naturopathy. It’s important to talk to your medical provider
and discuss what is the right course of action for you. There is often some hesitancy to use birth control in faith and cultural communities due to some stigmas and myths around birth
control. Some myths include that using it means that
you are sexually active or that using it can lead to infertility. The reality is that birth control is a hormone
regulator and has many other medical uses other than to prevent pregnancy. There is no medical proof that fertility is
impacted with the long term use of birth control. All reversible birth control methods will
help prevent pregnancy while you’re using them, but none have long-lasting effects on
your ability to get pregnant when you stop. That’s why people who use the pill but accidentally
forget to take it for a few days can get pregnant that month. After stopping the use of birth control pills,
it may take 1-3 months for your periods to return to the cycle you had before you started
using it, though it could take six months to a year for a woman to conceive. If your periods were irregular prior to the
use of birth control, it may continue to be irregular for a few months after stopping. Birth control does not cause fertility issues, but may mask underlying problems one may have
had before. According to a survey we distributed in which
we asked 95 women about their experience with PCOS, around 68% of participants found lack
of education as a barrier in getting diagnosed or seeking treatment. 40% of women were misdiagnosed and 32% reported
cultural stigma was a barrier. 80% of women surveyed didn’t know about
PCOS before being diagnosed. Due to this, many women seek help much later
than when they began showing symptoms. With PCOS this can be dangerous as it can
lead to more severe health issues. In regards to their diagnosis of PCOS, women
reported feeling inadequately informed, not satisfied with the treatment options presented
to them and dismissed. Though sometimes not easy, it’s important
to find a healthcare provider you are comfortable with and who will collaborate with you on
your needs. Getting another opinion can also make a difference. In the survey, some women reported being told
that they were not going to be able to conceive, but when they changed providers or clinics,
they were able to do so. Unfortunately, in most communities, there is stigma around discussing women’s reproductive health. This is a cultural stigma, and is no way related
to Islam. In fact, it’s well known that taking care
of your body and your health is a form of worship and an act of spirituality. There needs to be a culture-shift within our
community to normalize talking about women’s issues. This comes from raising awareness and challenging
stigma. You are already doing this by watching this
video so… I hope that you feel more informed about PCOS,
it’s symptoms and it’s treatments. Check us out at for
more information, and/or to ask a question in safe, culturally sensitive and empowering
space. Bye!

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