Last year, roommates, colleagues and best friends, Namrata George and Teresa Boban moved from their hometown in Kochi to Bengaluru for work. It was during this period that they were both diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). As they started reading and researching about the Syndrome, they understood how there was a lack of awareness in the Indian society about PCOS. This inspired these 24-year-olds to start an Instagram page under the name ‘Two Broke Girls With PCOS’ to address the unaddressed stigma attached to PCOS and share their journey.
“We wanted to bring people’s attention to the syndrome that an increasing number of women today are living with,” they tell The Better India.
“I was the one that got diagnosed first. After missing my period for three months straight, I understood that something was wrong. After the diagnosis, the doctor advised that I cut off on a lot of food that I used to consume on a daily basis. I let go of dairy, rice and carbohydrates from my diet which helped me control the symptoms,” says Teresa.
“Every single woman has a different struggle with PCOS. But as long as we do the right kind of research we can figure out what to avoid. I had been struggling with weight issues for the longest time and I probably had PCOS at a very young age but I didn’t have enough awareness back then about the disorder and thought it was just obesity,” she adds.
For Namrata, it was the sudden acne breakout that left her confused. “ I never had any struggles with weight and I’ve never missed a single period in my life. But following the acne, I noticed sudden hair growth in unusual places and the skin around my neck also started darkening,” says Namrata.
“Soon after, I started facing severe abdominal pain and decided to go to the doctor. At this point, both the doctor and my mother were convinced that the acute pain was due to a kidney stone. But a few scans later, I found that I had multiple follicles in both ovaries,” she adds.
A recent study reported that almost 10 million women worldwide have PCOS. Often mistaken for a gynaecological disorder since many of the symptoms involve a woman’s reproductive system, PCOS is actually an endocrine disorder that involves the hormones and hormone production.
“Although there is no absolute cure for PCOS, it can be helped with a few lifestyle alterations. Just being aware of how your body functions will help you choose the perfect diet plan. We share meal plans, exercises and even mental health tips on our page. We want to make sure that people speak out about these conditions rather than be hushed by the society. Many people who struggle with PCOS also go through depression and anxiety. We need to be able to talk about PCOS without the fear of being judged. Through our page, we’re just creating a safe space,” they explain.
“For me, PCOS is genetic. If you can detect it early on in life, the recovery process is a lot easier. The problem arises because Indian women don’t take monthly check-ups seriously. We tend to ignore all the warning signs and red flags and just move on with life. We need to be more aware of the changes our body is going through,” says Namrata.
After the duo created the page in 2019, they’ve received a lot of messages and queries about the disorder and the symptoms. “After reading up the symptoms on our page, one of our followers went for a PCOS diagnoses and found out she had it,” they share.
“We live in the type of society where they ask us to keep quiet about PCOS because it may lead to people talking about fertility issues but it is important to know that nothing matters except your good health. Women need to know that it’s not always our fault,” the girls add.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)