INTERNATIONAL data suggests that polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects one in 10 women of child-bearing age ( womenshealth.gov ).
PCOS 1 in 10 JA is a video documentary series, conceptualised to raise awareness about PCOS in innovative ways. The disorder affects 10 per cent of women from teenage years to menopause, and leaves them at risk for developing complications like diabetes, infertility and mood disorders.
The ultimate goal is to celebrate and empower women living with PCOS. The campaign profiles 11 women of different demographics, body types, etc, allowing them to share their PCOS journeys and how they manage their symptoms while also increasing awareness of PCOS and destigmatising symptoms typically ridiculed by society — weight gain, facial hair, infertility and mood disorders.
In true woman power, the campaign is spearheaded by Kim Rose of Think Mental Health Ja and Dr Kimberley Sommerville, who holds a Bachelor of Medicine and has a background in internal and family medicine.
Visual advocate Jik-Rueben Pringle is also a key organiser.
“I found out about PCOS in August 2020 and I was taken aback by how many women it affects and men who do not know it exists. When I thought about collaborating with Dr Kimberley and Kim Rose, one of my missions was to create work for women to understand more about themselves, individually and collectively, and also for men to learn about conditions women endure. I want to encourage men to be more empathetic and caring towards our women, and be knowledgeable enough to give more meaningful support. It's not just a woman's issue, it is our issue too, men,” Pringle said.
“We're also aiming for this campaign to prompt women and general practitioners to get more educated on identifying and treating PCOS. We're also hoping that this will prompt women who may be experiencing the symptoms highlighted to check with their doctors for proper diagnosis. Women should be able to know the ins and outs of their bodies and be aware of possible lifestyle changes they can make to alleviate their symptoms,” shared campaign organiser and mental health advocate, Kim Rose.
A proper study has not been conducted on PCOS in Jamaica and as a result, there is no indicator of how many women within our population have actually been diagnosed. As a result of this, Dr Sommerville conducted a small-scale local study, where she interviewed 12 women with PCOS and 18 general practitioners. The goal was to understand their perspective on diagnosis and management of PCOS in Jamaica.
She shares, “I hope that this project will inspire an actual large-scale study to be undertaken by the Government or health research organisations in Jamaica. As an online campaign, PCOS 1in10 Ja will feature a social media roll-out which includes Motivation Mondays — how to listen to your body and respond to feelings associated with your diagnosis; Kitty Tip Tuesdays — about Pap smears, gynaecologist visits, vaginal care; and Fast Fact Fridays — known and unknown facts and understandings of PCOS.”
The campaign officially launches in September 2021 after a year of planning and features amazing Jamaican women such as insurance and investment advisor Alethea Walters-Benbow, policy adviser Ali Matalon, influencer & NetsChat Podcast host Netania Mundell, medical doctor Kim Goodall, visual artist Natali-Daley-Grunenflder, creative producer & PR chick Davida-Mae Chambers and recording artiste Naomi Cowan, to name a few.
For more information on the campaign & to see its roll-out, check out @PCOS1in10Ja on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.