ATLANTA, Ga. (WJBF) – It’s a disorder many people have never heard of before, but as many as 15 percent of women deal with unwanted facial hair, hormonal imbalance and unwanted weight gain. PCOS Awareness Weekend kicked off on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta Saturday where healthcare professionals met with patients to tell them everything they need to know, but have not been told.
Shermnae Jones, of Augusta, spent time in the day-long conference attending multiple workshops learning more about the disorder that wreaked havoc on her while bringing her first child into the world.
“With my pregnancy I did have some complications that were largely due to PCOS,” Jones said.
The local dentist helps keep a smile on local kids’ faces, but she frowns at her own health situation, dealing with serious health issues because of it.
“Gestational diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease. I did experience heart failure while I was pregnant,” she explained.
Jones also had her baby 8 weeks early. Obstetric complications is one of the many problems women learned comes with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome during the symposium.
Though a mother and doctor, she spent the weekend dedicated to learning more about the metabolic and hormonal disorder impacting 15 percent of women.
Shelby Eckard, of Aiken, SC joined her.
“You feel out of place in your own body. You don’t understand what’s going on and why it’s different.”
Eckard, who doubles as a patient and a member of the Patient Advisory Board for PCOS Challenge, told NewsChannel 6 she was diagnosed after trying to conceive her second child.
“Looking back I had classic symptoms from the time I was 14, 15. Irregular or missed periods, anxiety, depression, unable to lose weight,” she said.
Atlanta PCOS patient Gabrielle Gaston is too a board member of PCOS Challenge’s Patient Advisory Board. She attends each year to get the most updated information and help others along the way.
“So, I gained about 55 pounds in a year. I joined kickboxing. I joined gyms. I was eating clean and I could not lose one pound,” she said.
A confidence grant helped Gaston fight PCOS by improving her image. Endowed by PCOS Diva, the money is issued by PCOS Challenge – The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association that brings doctors to patients every year.
“When patients go into the doctor, they need to be very clear about what their goals are,”said Ricardo Azziz who is Senior Executive Director of the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society. “What is it that bothers them that needs to be treated?” Azziz conducted several workshops at the symposium, which is hosted by the national service sorority Omega Phi Alpha.
And to facilitate that conversation, PCOS Challenge accepted a resolution from the Georgia House of Representatives State Rep. Able Mable Thomas, D-Atlanta, making PCOS a public health priority.
PCOS Challenge Founder & Executive Director Sasha Ottey, who is also pushing Congressional lawmakers to support a similar resolution in Washington, D.C., explained that type of designation is crucial for saving lives.
“This could lead to improved research, improved treatment options for women and girls with PCOS which is a part of prioritizing PCOS.”
The weekend culminates with the Bolt for PCOS 5K run walk Sunday morning.