These 'two broke girls' are on a mission to help women with PCOS
Namrata George and Teresa Babon are both 24 years old and have known each other for almost 11 years now. They have been roommates for seven years and now work together as fashion associates for an AI fashion company in Bengaluru. Another thing they have in common is their polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) diagnosis.
PCOS is an endocrine system disorder that affects women in their reproductive years. Small fluid-filled sacs known as cysts develop on the ovaries.
This shared diagnosis led them to start an Instagram account - ‘Two Broke Girls with PCOS’ - to help others with PCOS make better lifestyle choices and spread awareness about the syndrome.
Their page is inspired by their split-wise group which they named after the American sitcom - Two Broke Girls that featured two young and broke women trying to be independent and figure out life and its ups and downs. Just like the show, they wanted to keep the page “light, funny and relatable”.
After the diagnosis
Teresa missed her period for three months in 2018. She consulted a gynaecologist and was diagnosed with PCOS. A year later, Namrata was experiencing lower abdominal pain. She went to a doctor thinking it might be a kidney stone or something more serious. An ultrasound revealed that she too had PCOS.
Due to the different symptoms that led to their diagnosis, they say, “Please know that each symptom is unique to every woman.”
“Symptoms include changes to the menstrual cycle, acne, weight gain, pelvic pain, hair loss and many more,” they add. According to the PCOS Awareness Association, a non-profit organisation set up for the advocacy of PCOS, symptoms also include infertility, dandruff, oily/acne skin, weight gain, thinning hair, dark patches on skin, pelvic pain, excess hair on the face, chest, or body, fatigue, headaches, sleeping problems, etc.
Though there is no cure for PCOS yet, apart from medical treatments, lifestyle changes can help reduce or eliminate the symptoms. This is something the two girls learned from the doctor that diagnosed Namrata with PCOS.
Before the diagnosis, work kept the two from leading a healthy lifestyle. They would eat unhealthy food and not include any physical activity in their daily routine. However, they wanted to change to manage PCOS better. They began to prepare meals at home and included one physical activity in their routine, something which could be as simple as walk for 30-45 minutes.
“As we started reading and researching more about the condition we watched our diet to include more food groups that helped keep PCOS in check. Now we have moved to include more intense and vigorous activities in our everyday routine,” says Namrata.
According to the PCOS Awareness Association about 10 million women are affected by PCOS and half of them are not aware of it as some of these symptoms like oily skin are never reported to a medical practitioner as something serious. Namrata and Teresa also realised that there weren’t many people who were aware of the condition, which prompted them to begin the Instagram page.
“Personally if we had known the symptoms and what PCOS is, we could have started our lifestyle change much sooner,” they say.
The content on the page documents the women’s journey with PCOS - the lifestyle changes they have made, workout routines, home remedies for symptoms like acne, nutrition, healthy food recipes, and more. It also includes information about different symptoms of PCOS and how to deal with each one. The two of them try out the recommendations before they post them on the page.
They are commonly mistaken for doctors who giving out medical advice. However, they reiterate that they are just two girls with PCOS who are documenting their journey.
“We are not here to help anyone cure PCOS but rather learn how to live with this condition and control it,” they say.
Through the page, they hope to build a community where both women and men can freely discuss PCOS and related subjects. They also hope to remove the stigma around it. They also plan to discuss depression, anxiety and mental health, which are a huge part of PCOS and believe that there’s isn't enough conversation on the same.
There’s one thing they want women with PCOS to remember.
“We can’t stress this enough but the only thing they should keep in mind is to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Many times women are worried that PCOS leads to infertility but that’s not the case. With proper time and care the condition can be controlled. We personally know a lot of beautiful mothers who have PCOS.”
They also recommend that women periodically visit their gynaecologist, which can help in early detection and diagnosis and put them on the path towards a healthy lifestyle.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)