Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is more than just a fertility disorder. Read about Pollie's co-founder's PCOS story here!
I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) when I was a freshman in college. For the past decade, managing my PCOS has become a part of my life. My case - which was post-pill induced - has luckily been controllable, but my extra-sensitive reproductive endocrine system has never failed to let me know when something is off-balance.
Having PCOS was initially isolating, confusing, and frustrating. I had not so much as heard of the condition, much less knew any friends or family that had it. The more I dove into researching my symptoms, though, the more I realized just how prevalent it was: 1 in 10 women of reproductive age have PCOS. In the US alone, that equates to over 7 million* ladies struggling with challenges like insulin resistance, acne, and infertility.
For comparison’s sake, New York City is home to 8.5 million people. If (almost) the entire city of New York woke up tomorrow to find themselves unable to regulate their blood sugar with a hellish case of cystic acne, I think they’d all freak out. New Yorkers are divas.
My PCOS opened my eyes to the world of hormonal imbalances. At 18, I was the only person I knew who had PCOS, but I knew there were millions more out there. And, the more research I did, the more I learned about the high incidence of other hormonal and reproductive health disorders:
Altogether, this equates to 20 million American women that are struggling with a reproductive health issue of some kind - and that does not even get into more generalized infertility issues, which further balloons this number.
20 million is a massive number. That’s more than 2 NYCs (!). It begs the question: why is hormonal health lacking the same awareness we lend to diabetes, heart disease, and common cancers? After all, endocrine imbalances can be a driving force behind the most chronic and prevalent chronic conditions.
I don’t know about you, but to me, 20 million isn’t niche. And it’s time we did something about that.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome. How’s that for a cute, approachable phrase? What about endometriosis and hypothalamic amenorrhea? Yeah, we know. Scary.
Unfortunately, as a society we are still wildly undereducated when it comes to the world of hormonal imbalances, and the connotation that accompanies these conditions only worsens from first mention. One Google search and you’ll find every cringe-worthy gem you could imagine: Irregular periods! Infertility. Acne! Male-pattern hair loss and irregular hair growth. Depression, anxiety, and irritability, oh my!
Here’s the deal: we learn we have these scary-sounding conditions with even scarier health risks - not to mention frustrating day-to-day symptoms - and we feel strange sharing this information with friends, family, and coworkers because of the negative association with femininity that follows.
While my own hormonal imbalance symptoms have been under control for the better part of 5 years, I still remember what it felt like to feel entirely out of control of my own body. I also remember what it felt like to try to maintain the life of a normal college freshman while in the depths of my PCOS. It was - for lack of a better word - entirely shitty. Shitty not just because it was isolating, confusing, and frustrating as previously mentioned, but shitty also because of the feelings of shame and embarrassment that accompanied the knowledge that my body was discombobulated in such a way that could leave me more prone to diabetes and heart disease and make it more difficult for me to have children later in life.
Until I really educated myself about the science behind PCOS and how to manage my symptoms, it was hard to explain to people what I was going through and feel cute and strong while doing so (not my most Lizzo season of life, but hey - Brene Brown would be proud).
And I know I’m not alone. In the past 8 years I’ve done my fair share of internet lurking of hormonal health specialists and advocates, and there has been the overwhelming consensus that upon noticing hormonal imbalance symptoms or receiving a diagnosis, we all feel a little WTF-IS-MY-BODY-DOING panic and shame, catalyzed largely by stigma and lack of specialized tools and resources.
So, polycystic in its traditional light may not be that cute. Let’s just admit that.
But Pollie’s here to change that. Cartoon parrots are cute, getting hours of your life back is cute, you’re cute.
By streamlining hormonal health resources, our goal at Pollie is to empower women to take back control of their bodies. Because when we are properly equipped with a care team that we enjoy working with as well as technologies that enhance our understanding of our own bodies, we can more rapidly learn how to minimize the undesired side effects of having a hormonal imbalance.
Supporting 20 million women in managing the less-than-ideal side effects of a hormonal imbalance takes an army. Luckily, said army exits. On Instagram alone, there are thousands of nutritionists, naturopaths, coaches, and other hormonal health experts who have found their life’s calling in helping these women. That is amazing!
But, finding a provider that is the right fit for you is a time-consuming endeavor that generally results in eating almond butter straight out of the jar while watching Sex and the City reruns because you’ve spent 4 hours trying to find an affordable naturopath and went so far down a Google hole that you ended up stalking the Bachelor contestants on Instagram when you don’t even watch the Bachelor and oh my god you need to take a breath. Hypothetical situation, of course (but also, Team Aiden).
Pollie takes care of this for you. As a user, all you need to do is take our 5-minute quiz to be matched to a provider that fits your preferences based on:
And this is just the start. We have some pretty fun plans for the future that extend way beyond our current prototype, and we’re excited to have you along for the ride.
*The 7 million figure I’m quoting is a lowball number: many sources estimate that closer to 1 in 5 women, most of which are undiagnosed, are on the PCOS spectrum because of post-pill induced cases.