Health & Wellbeing

15th May 2013

Annabel Boys; ‘Abseil raised £1,300 for Verity to help PCOS sufferers.’

by Railah Iqbal

Annabel Boys abseiled down a 400-foot tower to raise over £1,000 for Verity, a charity helping 6,000 Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome sufferers every year.

courtesy of Annabel Boys

courtesy of Annabel Boys

Annabel, Health Coach, said; “I saw the abseil in a newspaper. At the time my sister had a list of things she wanted to do before she turned 30 so I recommended this to her.”

As Annabel was struggling to commit herself to the challenge, she made it into a ‘public’ statement and decided to turn it into a fundraising event. “I realised that it was a mental challenge above all and I felt Verity deserved the money because their work is very important to women suffering with PCOS.”

At 25 years old, Annabel was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. She was advised that she would have fertility problems but she no idea of the sorts of health problems attached to the condition. At the time, there not much available in terms of advice for PCOS sufferers.  Annabel said; “After several years of fertility treatments we were very lucky to conceive after our first round of IVF about 10 years ago, sadly my marriage didn’t survive the stress of the treatments and  my husband left shortly before my daughter was born.”

Verity website- screen shot
Verity website- screen shot

She added; “Verity provides vital information and support for women with PCOS. I just wish they had been around when I was first diagnosed with it because it could have made all the difference. At the time I had no idea that my diet and lifestyle was affecting my hormonal health and had no idea there were alternatives to the fertility drugs.”

Unlock My Health website- screen shot
Unlock My Health website- screen shot

With a background in health and a PhD in psychology, Annabel is looking to focus her health coaching practice on  helping women with PCOS  to examine their diet and health choices. Annabel explains; “I feel so strongly that young women in particular should have access to advice and support about all the options available to them. Small changes to diet and lifestyle can massively improve PCOS symptoms which could mean that less opt for the route of medication.”

To hear more from Annabel , check out her page

14th May 2013

1 in 10 young women have PCOS and 75%  of us don’t even know it

by Railah Iqbal @PolkaDots&Potions

1 in 10 young women suffer from Polycystic ovary syndrome, however, as PCOS Awareness’s survey shows; 3 out 4 sufferers are unaware that they even have it.

PCOS is a hormone imbalance that can cause irregular periods, unwanted hair growth, acne, fertility problems, sudden mood changes and weight gain. PCOS starts as early as during a girl’s teenage years.

café press- press shot
café press- press shot

Many of my friends mentioned that I had symptoms of PCOS because I have always struggled with maintaining my weight and I have unexpected mood swings. I did not take it too seriously because I had always thought that I would not delve into until I was considering having children. The doubts increased when a course of laser treatments to reduce my excessive facial hair had proved ineffective. I took to the internet to look for explanations for the failed treatment and 80% of the sites linked the issues to PCOS. I went for the PCOS test which proved the suspicions right.

press shot
press shot

My discovery of PCOS was encouraged by Verity; a UK-based charity who supports and advises 6,000 women directly suffering from PCOS related issues.

The relief I feel now is unbelievable because I no longer have to go through umpteen fad diets or pay hundreds of pounds for hair reduction treatment because there is an explanation behind my struggles and Verity have shown me ways of dealing with them.

Rachel Hawkes, Verity’s chairperson, explained that Verity was set up in 1997 as a support network for women suffering from PCOS and it now aims to educate women on PCOS-related issues especially those which people would not generally link  to the disorder such as; type two diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, increased risk of heart attacks and unexpected pregnancies.

Rachel Hawkes- Verity press shot
Rachel Hawkes- Verity press shot

Rachel said; “It is hugely important that young women understand the importance of PCOS because it is not just fertility condition. Like many of them think they can’t have children because of irregular periods, so don’t use contraception and end up with surprise pregnancies.”

Verity has a team of volunteers running 10 local groups whom give direct advice to sufferers and  its webpage has a discussion board where sufferers can advise and relate to one another.  There are also yearly conferences, as part of PCOS UK, where medical experts attend to advise people on how to deal with PCOS and the treatments available.

Rachel also unexpectedly discovered she was suffering from the condition. She visited the doctor to discuss menstrual problems. “I found it so strange when he was asking me about having excessive facial hair and whether I was putting on weight. I thought I have a few on my chin but what is that got to do with my periods?”

When Rachel found out she had PCOS, she was oblivious to what it exactly was. Rachel said; “Not very many people knew about this issue because popular magazines for women like Cosmopolitan had never wrote about it even though a lot of us have it.”

As Rachel has a background in marketing, she joined Verity to help raise awareness about PCOS. Rachel said; “Raising awareness of the related issues will help us make young women medical advocates armed to support one another when dealing with PCOS.”

What causes PCOS?

The disorder, caused by elevated levels of the male hormone testosterone, leads to the ovaries being covered in tiny fluid-filled cysts which causes hormonal imbalance.

What signs do I look for?

  • Acne.
  • Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
  • Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
  • Thinning hair on the scalp.
  • Irregular periods. Often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year. Some women have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
  • Fertility problems. Many women who have PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
  • Depression or mood swings.

What do I do if I think I am suffering from PCOS?

  • Go to your doctor right away.
  • Look to Verity for advice and support.
  • Don’t panic because there is a cure for everybody.

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