As we grow up we are taught to shave our legs and armpits. It is a social norm that we feel we must conform to. But there is some new information out there that may have you thinking otherwise thanks to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). There is a movement right now called Armpits4August where women are refraining from shaving their armpits for the month of August to try and raise awareness about PCOS as so few people know what it is unless they have been diagnosed with it.
What is PCOS? It is a hormonal imbalance in a woman’s body that can cause a multitude of symptoms ranging from hair loss, acne, weight gain, ovarian cysts, and hair growth on the face or chest. There are very few treatments for it and it is also goes undiagnosed too often because of the range of symptoms which are different for all women. PCOS afflicts 5-10% of the population of pre-menopausal women.
Most women find out that they have PCOS when they are in their mid-teens to early 20s. It messes with the menstrual cycle so that you skip months and have extremely long periods. It can cause excessive cramping. It also causes infertility as the hormonal imbalance can make it very hard to get pregnant for many. There are no tests that specifically test for PCOS due to the wide range of symptoms. Doctors will rule out all other OB/GYN and hormonal/glandular issues first just to be sure.
Low-dose birth control pills and progesterone-only birth control are two ways to treat the symptoms of PCOS but unfortunately those are not options for everyone. This treatment can help with the hair growth and some can even help with acne, and can also help to regulate your period. Metformin which is normally used for diabetic patients may be prescribed to help insulin levels which become messed up with PCOS as well and cause the weight gain but prevent weight loss.
Armpits4August is trying to help PCOS patients realize that they shouldn’t have to worry so much about their excessive body hair growth. They have teamed up with other campaigns and a company called Verity that helps to educate medical professionals about PCOS as many doctors are still unaware of it as well. Sadly this campaign is only happening in the UK and has not moved to the US yet, however you can still check out the campaign and help to sponsor someone!