A woman from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, England identified only as Annette grew a beard and then shaved it off as awareness for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Annette has been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and the 48-year-old woman has excessive facial hair as a result. In order to help a charitable cause, Annette therefore allowed her facial hair to grow. She then shaved it.
Annette reported that on most days during that period, she posted to her over seventy thousand TikTok followers in order to get the message about PCOS out.
“So many women feel alone and I want them to know they’re not,” she said.
In the first week of October, Annette shaved her beard at a pub in her hometown and raised more than £2,000 for the UK PCOS charity Verity.
PCOS symptoms might include irregular periods, high levels of “male” hormones, and polycystic ovaries. The ovaries can become enlarged and contain fluid-filled sacs, the National Health Services (NHS) said.
Having a beard is one of Annette’s Polycystic Ovary Syndrome symptoms
The signs and symptoms of PCOS usually become apparent during a woman’s late teens or early twenties. Symptoms might include irregular menstrual cycles or no periods at all, difficulty getting pregnant as a result of irregular ovulation or no ovulation, excessive hair growth (hirsutism)—usually on the face, chest, back, or buttocks—and weight gain.
Other identifiable PCOS symptoms range from thinning hair and scalp hair loss to oily skin and acne. PCOS is also associated with an increased risk of health problems in later life. This might include type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol levels.
For Annette, symptoms began when she was fourteen, but she was only diagnosed with PCOS at nineteen by “pure chance” when she visited a female general practitioner.
Currently, Annette is forty-eight years old and says she has never had a regular menstrual cycle. Earlier in her lifetime, she was told to take the contraceptive pill and “come back when [she] want[ed] to get pregnant.”
Disappointed, she said, “I’ve lost count [of] how many women have been told the same as me, [and] I’ve had so many [mixed] messages…people don’t know where to turn.”
Annette added that the main reason she grew and then shaved her beard was to “share the awareness that there’s not enough known about PCOS and there’s not enough research done.”
More understanding of the problems of PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects the way a woman’s ovaries work. Most commonly, there are three main symptoms. These include irregular periods, excess androgen, meaning there are high levels of “male” hormones in the body, and polycystic, or enlarged, ovaries.
With the presentation of at least two of the identified features, chances are that a diagnosis of PCOS is very likely.
It is difficult to determine exactly how many women have PCOS, but it is thought to be very common, affecting about one in every ten women in the UK. On a global scale, PCOS affects about four to twenty percent of women of reproductive age. More than half of these women do not have any obvious symptoms.
A combination of genetic and environmental factors is believed to be the cause of polycystic ovary syndrome although the actual primary factors are not yet understood well.
Although no concrete cure for PCOS itself exists, symptoms can be treated with birth control pills to regularize periods, a medication called metformin to prevent diabetes, statins to control high cholesterol, hormones to increase fertility, and various procedures to remove excess hair.
Other medicines have also been proven to treat symptoms such as excessive hair growth, irregular periods, and fertility issues.
According to Annette, she has received hundreds of positive comments each day on TikTok although she has also received many “vile” ones. “I’ve had so many from women, men, wanting to support their wives, girlfriends and partners,” she said.
Promotion of women’s health awareness is vital
Verity Secretary, Caroline Andrews, commended the efforts of Annette saying, “Thank you to Annette for allowing us all…insight into the condition.”
Annette further promised to continue to post videos as “it’s important that women’s health is talked about,” noting that “the trolls need educating.”
“We are so grateful to Annette for raising awareness and funds [for] PCOS and the charity,” Andrews added. “PCOS is a common condition that many are not aware of and [those affected] have to self-educate and advocate for themselves.”