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Keke Palmer PCOS

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty

Back in October, actress and singer Keke Palmer publicly celebrated the accomplishment of obtaining clear skin. The beauty shared a photo of herself, skin bright and clear, as she said that after a tumultuous journey, she finally figured out what worked for it.

“ITS THE SKIN FOR ME, y’all know what I’ve endured!!” she wrote on Twitter. My skin used to have me curled up in the bed crying. Now I really truly understand it, I’m so thankful, no filta Poohs”

Three months later, the 27-year-old shared a completely different photo. On Tuesday, she showed off the deep scarring left behind from severe acne, which seemingly reappeared after that fresh faced photo from September. She shared it to let people know that she had recently been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), that it was to blame for her skin issues, and to say that if she hadn’t advocated for herself, she never would have found out.

“Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome has been attacking me from the inside out my entire life and I had no idea,” she wrote on Instagram. “My acne has been so bad that people in my field offered to pay for me to get it fixed. I tried EVERYTHING. I did Accutane TWICE. People say drink water, have a better diet, but I did all that, I ate all the ‘right’ things, my blood tests were fine. But it took ME taking a personal look into my family that has a history of diabetes and obesity, to understand what was ACTUALLY happening with me. And unfortunately doctors are people and if you don’t ‘look the part’ they may not think that’s your problem. They may not even suggest it if you ‘look healthy’ whatever that means! I came to a doctor in tears once and all they offered was a measles vaccine…”

“I’m posting this to say that it’s okay and we can help ourselves,” she continued. “My skin has made me sad many nights but I do not give up on myself. I know this is not me and my body has been looking for help. I do not have a medical degree but I did the research and took what I learned to a doctor and that led them to a proper diagnosis. I’m not saying trust web md for everything haha but what I am saying is no one can help us like we can help ourselves.”

“The least harmful thing PCOS can bring is acne. To all the people struggling with this please know you’re not alone and that you are still so f–king fine!” she added. MY ACNE AINT NEVER STOPPED ME. But we don’t have accept this. Now I can really help KEKE! And I love her so it’s ON. Pray for me on this journey and I will pray for you too. I’m not afraid to show myself to the world and you shouldn’t be either”

PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects as many as five million women. Too much of the hormone androgen (that both men and women have) can cause severe acne, like Palmer’s, but there are other serious effects of it. Here are five facts about polycystic ovarian syndrome to know:

  1. While the cause of PCOS is not specifically known, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there has been a link genetically as well as between women with PCOS having issues with insulin resistance. When the body isn’t best able to utilize insulin, it builds up and can increase androgen levels. In addition to that, if you struggle with insulin levels that contribute to PCOS, if also obese, that can cause the symptoms of the disorder to be even more extreme.
  2. According to the CDC, aside from the physical impacts including acne, weight gain, excessive hair growth on the body and thinning hair on the head, as well as reproductive issues like an impact on ovulation, there is a possibility that PCOS can progress into significant health concerns. Problems can include heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, among other distressing conditions.
  3. One major thing that PCOS can affect for women who have it is fertility. According to the PCOS Awareness Association, it is a leading cause of infertility. However, the keyword here is “can.” Not every woman who has the disorder needs assistance to give birth, and if symptoms are managed, many go on to conceive naturally.
  4. If you believe you might have PCOS, tell your doctor so that a discussion can be had about your symptoms and you can weigh out your options. Doctors may be able to come to a diagnosis, according to the Mayo Clinic, through a pelvic exam that checks for growths and/or abnormalities, an ultrasound to see your ovaries, and/or blood tests to check on your hormone levels.
  5. There isn’t an overall one-and-done treatment to deal with PCOS. Instead, treatments are aimed at one’s specific symptoms that affect them most. In Palmer’s case, that’s acne. For others, it could be the excessive hair growth or the ovulation issues. Depending on one’s issues, weight loss could help to control symptoms. Hormonal birth control could help better regulate a variety of issues if one has multiple concerns, including the acne, excess hair and period issues. Metformin can help to regulate insulin levels that intensify symptoms. Again though, treatment is based upon the individual’s needs.

It is not only brave of Palmer to not be afraid to share her skin sans filters, but it’s also important that she opened up about her diagnosis and the need for people to advocate for themselves. Perhaps others will be able to get the answers they need to begin the treatments that will make a difference.

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