PCOS, have you heard about it? Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, maybe you’ve heard about this? Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS, according to PCOS Challenge, “is a serious genetic, hormone, metabolic and reproductive disorder that affects women and girls. It is the leading cause of female infertility and a precursor for other serious conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endometrial cancer.” The NHS, simply describes it as “a common condition that affects how a woman’s ovaries work.“
To be very honest, PCOS is not often and openly discussed in Guyana (like every other thing to do with sexual and reproductive health). It’s very likely that we have girls and young women experiencing symptoms, but they’re unsure as to what the problem might be because of the lack of discussion and education around it. Features commonly associated with PCOS are irregular periods, excess androgen (high levels of “male” hormones in your body, which may cause physical signs such as excess facial or body hair) and polycystic ovaries (your ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) that surround the eggs. According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women; and it is also stated that women with PCOS constitute the largest group of women at risk for developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
September is designated as PCOS Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness and increase education about PCOS. In comes Cysterhood Support-Guyana, a newly established local support group that caters to women living with PCOS; the group will also function to educate the public, particularly girls and young women about PCOS and PCOS-related issues.
Launched at the beginning of September, Cysterhood Support – Guyana is the brainchild of Kimberly Manbodh. After becoming diagnosed and not finding the support that she needed, Kimberly decided to create her own support and information platform. She was made to come up with ingenious ways to help herself cope with PCOS; she thought that in helping herself, she can also help others.
In fact it’s the lack of awareness and focus on PCOS that inspired me to create this support group. For as much as I can recall, it was only in 2019, that I experienced and attended the first PCOS awareness event – a 5K Walk/Run organised by the Rotaract Club of Georgetown.
Kimberly chose the name “Cysterhood” because the group will be women-led and she wanted to create a sister-like relationship with its members; the homophone “cyster” was used because PCOS relates to “cyst” of the ovaries. Perfect!
“It’s an empowering name for these women” says Kimberly.
Cysterhood Support- Guyana has a mandate to raise awareness of PCOS in Guyana and to create an educational and support platform for women diagnosed with PCOS. A network is expected to be established that will allow women to have a wide variety of medical professionals they can go to for consultations. Psychosocial support will also be available for its members.
It is our vision to make PCOS a public health priority. Our theme is “Don’t be ashamed of your story, it can inspire others”.
The Group has fun plans for the month of September. Throughout the month, there will be an on-going challenge called Teal Tuesdays, where persons are encouraged to wear something teal to show their support and to raise awareness for PCOS. A joint collaborative 3-day symposium is also scheduled to occur.
Persons who are interested in joining the group can check their Facebook page for a link to complete registration form.