Keke Palmer opens up about polycystic ovarian syndrome: this is what it is and how it affects women

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Keke Palmer has opened up about having polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Keke Palmer has opened up about having polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Roy Rochlin / Stringer / Getty images

US actress and child star Keke Palmer recently opened up about battling with polycystic ovarian syndrome. She talked about how it has affected her and her skin over the years.

The star spoke out to raise awareness because many women may be suffering from it and not even know it. The syndrome is very common in women and can lead to health complications.

“Polycystic ovarian syndrome has been attacking me from the inside out my entire life and I had no idea. My acne has been so bad that people in my field offered to pay for me to get it fixed. I tried EVERYTHING. I did Accutane TWICE. People say drink water, have a better diet, but I did all that, I ate all the “right” things, my blood tests were fine. But it took ME taking a personal look into my family that has a history of diabetes and obesity, to understand what was ACTUALLY happening with me. And unfortunately doctors are people and if you don’t “look the part” they may not think that’s your problem. They may not even suggest it if you “look healthy” whatever that means! I came to a doctor in tears once and all they offered was a measles vaccine... Exactly

"My skin has made me sad many nights but I do not give up on myself. I know this is not me and my body has been looking for help,” she posted.

Read more | Nambitha Ben-Mazwi opens up about being diagnosed with endometriosis: ‘This has been the toughest time of my life’

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What is polycystic ovarian syndrome?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects how a woman's ovaries work. It has three main features:

1. It usually involves having infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual periods, which means your ovaries are not releasing eggs regularly.

2. A sufferer may have excessive male hormone (androgen) levels, which can lead to more body and facial hair.

3. The ovaries do not develop cysts but become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) that surround the eggs.

Health complications from PCOS can include heart disease, diabetes and fertility problems.

According to Healthline, PCOS affects women during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44) and many women have PCOS but don’t know it. It's estimated that 70 per cent of women with PCOS haven't been diagnosed.

The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is unknown but it often runs in families and is related to high insulin levels.

Symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome

Not every woman will have symptoms but if they do, they will vary and may include the following: 
  • Irregular periods. Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than eight periods a year, abnormally heavy periods or stop having menstrual periods altogether.
  • Oily skin or acne on the face, chest, and upper back.
  • Extra hair on the face, chin, back or buttocks.
  • Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp, like male baldness.
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
  • Fertility problems.


Treatment options

 PCOS cannot be cured but it can be treated. Your treatment will be based on your symptoms and whether you are planning to have children.

Different medication can be used to help fertility issues, control your periods and deal with hair problems and other possible symptoms like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Lifestyle changes may also be recommended if, for example, you are overweight.

Surgery may also be considered as an option to treat fertility problems.

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