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Bebe Rexha Opened Up About Her PCOS Diagnosis And Its Many Side Effects Which Include Weight Gain, Anxiety, And Fatigue
PCOS is said to affect 1 in 5 women — and is most commonly diagnosed in one's 20s or 30s.by Fabiana Buontempo
I always appreciate when celebrities are transparent about their health — especially when it's regarding health conditions that deserve more attention.
Like recently, when Meghan Trainor opened up about her experience with painful intercourse and her vaginismus diagnosis. It gives a platform to these conditions that may not often be discussed otherwise.
Recently, Bebe Rexha spoke candidly about her experience with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) while appearing on Gayle King's SiriusXM show.
Samir Hussein / WireImage
During the interview, Bebe said, “I just found out recently I have PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome, and a lot of women have it. A lot of women who have it don’t know."
As an almost 30-year-old woman, I've heard of PCOS but I honestly don't know much about it — and figured I'm not the only one. I reached out to Courtney A. Minors, MS, RDN, LD/N a registered dietician, and PCOS specialist to further explain this condition, how to know if and when you need to visit a doctor for a diagnosis, and more.
@pcos.nutritionist.courtney / Via Instagram
"PCOS is a complex metabolic, endocrine, and reproductive condition. It is extremely common, affecting up to 1 in 5 women and people AFAB. It is generally diagnosed in child-bearing years, most often in the ages of 20-30s," Courtney told BuzzFeed.
Dragonimages / Getty Images/iStockphoto
"It is also one of the most common causes of infertility. However, the condition has health implications that extend beyond reproductive years — like increased risk of diabetes, heart diseases, and ovarian cancer," Courtney continued.
In her conversation with Gayle, Bebe went on to explain the common symptoms of PCOS. “It causes facial hair, acne around the chin, weight gain — it makes it hard to get pregnant."
Jerritt Clark / Getty Images for Bebe Rexha
Courtney further explained to BuzzFeed why PCOS causes such drastic symptoms. "PCOS is characterized by elevated androgens or 'male hormones' like testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and DHEA-sulfate. Elevations in these hormones contribute to symptoms like acne, hirsutism, and hair loss."
Energyy / Getty Images
Hirsutism is a condition that results in excessive growth of dark or coarse hair appearing on a woman's face, chest, and back.
In terms of treatment for PCOS, understanding what causes it may be half the battle. And, unfortunately, according to Courtney, the exact cause of PCOS remains unknown. However, "insulin resistance is a primary driver of these symptoms. Higher than normal levels of insulin signal the ovaries to produce more testosterone driving those characteristic symptoms you mentioned," shared Courtney.
"In addition, insulin resistance can contribute to insatiable cravings, weight gain, and fatigue," shared Courtney.
Weight gain is one of the main symptoms people with PCOS experience and Bebe has been publicly open about this. Last month, she responded to people who were discussing her body online. Bebe also revealed that her record label wanted her to lose weight when she was first signed.
Seeing that search bar is so upsetting. I’m not mad cause it’s true. I did gain weight. But it just sucks. Thank you to all the people who love me no matter what. pic.twitter.com/EGkGybhcRY— Bebe Rexha (@BebeRexha) April 16, 2023
On that note, Bebe said in her interview with Gayle that the weight fluctuations caused by her PCOS diagnosis have not only taken a toll on her — but have also helped her realize the importance of surrounding herself with uplifting people.
“There’ve been so many times on red carpets where I felt so ugly…because I had all this negativity around me. Now I just don’t want that around me anymore," Bebe said.
Nbc / Weiss Eubanks / NBCUniversal via Getty Images
In addition to its symptoms, another thing about PCOS that Bebe revealed in the interview is that "A lot of women don’t know they have it because it takes a certain type of doctor and certain tests [to be diagnosed with it]."
Courtney confirmed this by adding, "The Rotterdam criteria is used by physicians to diagnose PCOS. Individuals must present two out of the three criteria to be diagnosed."
Photoalto / Getty Images/PhotoAlto
"The criteria [doctors use to diagnose] include the presence of cysts or immature follicles on the ovaries; hyperandrogenism (elevated male hormones), and irregular/absent periods or ovulation," Courtney told BuzzFeed.
According to Courtney, an early warning sign that someone with PCOS might experience is an irregular period — which is characterized by cycles longer than 35 days.
"Oftentimes women are diagnosed [with PCOS] when they come off of birth control and have difficulty trying to conceive or difficulty regulating periods," she added.
Cris CantÃÂ³n / Getty Images
"In addition, many may experience facial hair or cystic hormonal acne which are characteristic symptoms of hyperandrogenism in PCOS," Courtney said.
"However, it’s important to note that PCOS presents differently in each individual and symptoms can vary from one person to the next. Some of the other symptoms may include skin tags, fatigue, disordered eating, hair thinning or loss of hair, anxiety, or depression," Courtney said.
"People [who suspect they might have PCOS] should see an OB-GYN and/or endocrinologist to assist in diagnosing and managing PCOS," Courtney added.
"In addition, a Registered Dietitian who specializes in PCOS will provide the coaching and education around nutrition and lifestyle changes to manage PCOS long term," says Courtney.
In regards to treating PCOS, Courtney said that "Many people are offered by their physicians either birth control, to help elicit a period, and/or Metformin for insulin resistance."
Maskot / Getty Images
"Oftentimes patients are told to lose weight which is absurd because the metabolic complexity of PCOS makes it difficult for people to lose weight. Nutrition and lifestyle changes should be the first-line treatments in this condition," she explained to BuzzFeed.
She continued, "Personalized nutrition and lifestyle interventions that focus on balancing blood sugar, lowering inflammation, and managing adrenal and sex hormones are important. In addition, a holistic approach that focuses on nutrition, sleep, stress management, lifestyle, supplements, and emotional support is where healing happens."
Lastly, it's important to remember that if you are diagnosed with PCOS, it can feel overwhelming and extremely isolating. However, Courtney said that there is a huge community of people living with PCOS and there is tons of support out there.
"It is important to understand that while the PCOS diagnosis does not go away, it can be managed and symptoms can be improved. You may be told, 'Oh you don’t have to worry about it until you want to get pregnant' or 'Just lose some weight.' This is unacceptable. Living with PCOS increases the risk for chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver, and more. So focusing on lifestyle changes, and advocating for yourself and your health is vital," said Courtney.
Thank you, Bebe, for sharing your story and shedding light on this condition.
Frazer Harrison / Getty Images