United in their journey of living life with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), three women have joined hands to launch the “My PCOS I Love You” campaign.
Launched today (Sept 1) in conjunction with PCOS Awareness Month in September, the campaign aims to provide a central resource platform for PCOS, including a web series, website (in both English and Bahasa Malaysia), monthly programmes and activities with healthcare professionals, workshops, webinars and a support group for PCOS survivors.
The three co-founders – Deena Marzuki, Ili Sulaiman, and Dr Stephanie Yang – found each other during their healing journey with PCOS.
Together, they share their hardships and a passion to raise public awareness about PCOS while creating a safe space to help improve the lives of Malaysian women struggling with PCOS.
PCOS is a metabolic, endocrine and reproductive disorder that affects a woman’s hormone levels. It is often described as multiple cysts formed in the ovaries that cause the eggs in the ovaries to be released irregularly. The cysts produce hormones called androgens and elevated levels of androgen contribute to irregular menstrual periods.
PCOS often results in a wide spectrum of symptoms including irregular periods or none at all, acne, insulin resistance, severe PMS, hair loss or hirsutism (excessive hair growth), weight issues, and infertility. The condition affects one in 10 women during their childbearing years and at least 50% of women remain undiagnosed as symptoms are often attributed to other factors or go unnoticed. When left undiagnosed or untreated, there is an increased risk of developing long-term health complications such as endometrial cancer, hypertension, and Type Two diabetes. Symptoms also often lead to depression and anxiety.
Sharing their experience to help others
A social entrepreneur and life coach with over six years of experience in event management and public relations, Deena was first diagnosed with PCOS at age 17 and suffered from irregular periods, fatigue and excessive hair growth.
“For over a decade, I tried numerous treatments and was often dismissed by healthcare professionals. Since I started my healing journey, it’s my mission to be the voice for women who are facing similar experiences,” says Deena who is president of My PCOS I Love You.
Food host and entrepreneur Ili Sulaiman, who is ambassador of My PCOS I Love You, opened her restaurant in 2016 after winning Food Hero Asia 2015, and has embarked on a successful TV career.
“But I struggled with severe anxiety and depression, and symptoms like hair loss and weight gain had started to manifest,” she says, revealing that she was diagnosed with PCOS, insulin resistance and endometriosis.
“It’s important to listen to your body to begin healing,” says Ili who practises wholesome cooking which is gluten, dairy and sugar-free, and stays active to manage stress.
Despite working in healthcare, pharmaceutical entrepreneur and women’s health coach Dr Stephanie Yang unknowingly suffered from PCOS until three to four years after the birth of her second child. Extensive blood tests revealed that she had insulin resistance and mild hyperthyroidism. She also suffered from the symptoms of hair loss, fatigue, and irregular menses.
“Over the last three to four years, I’ve met many women with PCOS who were misinformed or misdiagnosed. Since then, I’ve been passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience to help women get their health back on track,” says Yang, who is the advisor for My PCOS I Love You.
My PCOS, I Love You has established partnerships with the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Awareness Association USA (who will provide their expertise and resources), PlusVibes Malaysia (an all-in-one mental health and well-being platform), Diet Ideas (a dietetics and nutrition consultancy) and Daily Muscle (a gym that champions community coaching).
An inside look at PCOS
As part of the launch, there will be an original web series entitled “Dear PCOS” featuring an episode every 10 days. Sixteen Malaysian women from various walks of life will share an inside look at living with PCOS, expert perspectives and experiences, mental health, fertility issues, adverse side effects and more.
There will be livestream sessions and workshops with doctors and influencers such as pioneer in Bioidentical Hormones Replacement Dr Neal Rouzier, founder of PlusVibes Madiha Fuad, psychologist and women’s health specialist Dr Sharan Kaur, preventive medicine practitioner Dr Keily Wong, TikTok sensation Nina Zulkifli, PCOS advocate Raja Sarina Iskandar and renowned book author of Period Repair Manual and Hormone Repair Manual, naturopathic doctor and women’s health speaker Dr Lara Briden.
Comprehensive courses that provide useful lifestyle tools to help manage PCOS will be provided, including a cooking series, health and fitness videos and even a #MyPCOSChallenge to encourage “cysters” to “sweat it out together” in daily fitness routines.
There will also be roadshows to create awareness and educate the public about PCOS at schools and universities in the future.
In the support group, women can share their trials and triumphs in living with PCOS, receive the latest research or findings on PCOS, and a guide to effectively treating PCOS long-term.