I am happy that the main star of the movie ‘Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens’, Daisy Ridley, decided to open up on her experience with hormonal and reproductive health problems such as endometriosis and PCOS. These health issues have been kept secret by sufferers for a long time and making it public offers a kind of relief and support among them.
In her recent Instagram post, clad in a red shirt and a face mask, Ridley casually shared that she had been suffering from “bad skin”, period pains and endless medical treatments since her diagnosis with endometriosis at 15 years old. And, just recently, she learned that she also has Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrom (PCOS).
WHAT THE H ARE ENDOMETRIOSIS AND PCOS?
I’ll try to explain from my own words based on my research. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that affects about 20% of women population. It’s called a syndrome because it is characterized by a collection of “ailments” that doesn’t only involve dry skin and period pains but also, facial hair, acne, obesity/weight gain, dark knees and elbows, bleeding in between periods, dysmenorrhea (painful abdomen during period), amenorhea (absence of period) and small clusters of benign cysts in one or both ovaries as seen from an ultrasound. However, women don’t necessarily have to have ALL of these to find out if they have it. Sometimes, only one or two symptoms is manifested in a person; backed up by an ultrasound indicating presence of cysts. But in the same weird way, not seeing any cyst from the ovaries doesn’t automatically rule out hormonal imbalance. It takes a great experienced gynecologist or endorinologist to pinpoint PCOS.
Endometriosis is much worse. Without taking a peek into google search, what I know from endo is this: all women have this lining within the uterus called the ENDOMETRIUM. It thickens to serve as cushion and protection to the fetus when the woman gets pregnant. However, when the woman doesn’t get pregnant, the endometrium sheds off – becoming menstruation (monthly period). However, there are rare instances when, instead of leaving the body as mens, it forms OUTSIDE the walls of the uterus instead. Which becomes of course, out of place and painful. The only treatment for severe cases is a LAPAROSCOPY where the doctors open a small hole in the woman’s abdomen to surgically remove these tissues to help relieve the pain.
Daisy Ridley experienced both of these. Not all people with PCOS have endometriosis. But some articles say that people with endometriosis may have PCOS.
The problem with having these kinds of diseases is that it puts a threat to the ability of a woman to get pregnant. And in a world that puts so much pressue on women’s roles to produce a child, these issues could make them feel out of place and different in a bad way. Having these hormonal issues could feel like a sin against nature and society. Being told by the doctor of one’s inability to get pregnant could severely affect the confidence and disposition of women all over the world.
Having a beautiful, fit and popular holywood actress such as Daisy Ridley admit to this is like a breakthrough in society because finally, it points the light towards a sensitive topic that not all women would dare share. Also, it gives us the assurance that no matter how perfect a women may seem, they are not exempt from suffering any kind of problems in health such as PCOS and endometriosis.
I’d like women to feel that they are not alone. “Women for women” is a campaign I’d like to begin because only women understand what it feels like to be victimized by hormones. It already puts us in a rage during our monthly period! What more when we suffer from its imbalances? Lol.
At 23 years old, I went to the OB gyne for the first time with complaints on intermenstrual bleeding. She conducted an ultrasound which revealed a cluster of cysts from my ovaries. It was the first time I found out that I had PCOS but I probably had it earlier than that because I have had the worst kind of dysmenorrhea (and acne) since highschool.
Taken a few years ago. Trekking. 🙂 Other PCOS symptoms I’ve had: Big tummy. Strong food cravings and MOOD SWINGS! 😉 So I make sure I get as much outdoor activities and exercise as possible!
It was also only then that I found out that having dysmenorrhea or period pain is NOT normal. I used to think that it is. When my gynecologist gave me a hormonal (contraceptive) pill, my monthly period had been pain free since! It’s because the hormone levels inside my body is being balanced by these pills. Not only that, pills also help treat the cysts inside the ovaries. Taking pills is one way of treating PCOS for women who do not plan to get pregnant as of the moment.
However, for those who are trying for a child, medications like Metformin help reduce insulin levels, regulate periods and treat the symptoms of PCOS. It’s a mircale! (BUT if you, dear reader, is suffering from this, I suggest get a doctor’s recommendation first before buying anything I mentioned! lol)
Learning that I have PCOS for the first time was also the first time someone told me I couldn’t get pregnant. At a young age, it could mean a lot. Of course, I want a child. But even though I want it, I couldn’t have one at that age. Until finally, I embraced the possibility of not having a child and simply enjoyed life as it is! I embraced YOLO instead! lol.
But God truly moves in mysterious ways. The bible even says “When you want it, you got it!” through Matthew 7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find”.
So, without any medication, God introduced me to my husband, the love of my life and granted us a child. And I am happy.
But, it doesn’t mean that other women aren’t suffering from infertility. Somehow, I know their pain and I want them to feel support from other women.
Thus, if more people discuss this openly, we are able to make a whole world of difference.
People will be happier!