Causes & Treatment

Why Are People Painting Their Nails Purple For PCOS?

Eloise Edington  |   3 Sep 2021

Many conversations around infertility and reproductive disorders are often considered taboo, leaving those who struggle with conditions like PCOS in the dark about their condition and feeling isolated. It is estimated that 1 in 10 women in the UK of reproductive age have PCOS, 70% of whom are unaware that they have the condition and so aren’t receiving proper treatment. 15% of women in the US are also affected by PCOS and it is one of the most under-diagnosed, underfunded and neglected areas of the medical field. Raising awareness can help to bring more medical and public attention to the condition and fund trials into curing PCOS.

PCOS awareness month has begun this September, and it’s a time for those who are in the dark about their condition and feel alone to spread awareness and discover a community who know what they are going through.

Words by Katherine Compton

Spreading Awareness – What is PCOS?

PCOS is an extremely common reproductive disorder, caused by an underlying hormonal imbalance in women which affects the way their ovaries work, leading to irregular or no periods and therefore difficulty in getting pregnant. The condition may also lead to various other serious health complications in later life, if left undetected and untreated.

These are the three main symptoms of PCOS (although not all women with the condition experience all of them):

  • Irregular or no periods, leading to difficulty in conceiving
  • Androgen excess (producing too many male hormones which can lead to physical symptoms such as excessive hair growth)
  • Polycystic ovaries (ovaries that contain many small ‘cysts’ (about twice as many as in normal ovaries), These are not true cysts. They are not full of liquid and don’t get bigger or burst.  Nor do they require surgical removal or lead to ovarian cancer. They are in fact follicles that have not matured to be ovulated.

Due to the lack of research and funding, there is currently no cure for PCOS, but there is medication that can manage some of the symptoms associated with the disorder. Raising awareness for PCOS during the month of September could greatly help to fund research and educate people on the condition.

How to get involved in the UK

Paint One Nail Purple

People who have a diagnosis of PCOS are encouraged in the month of September to paint one fingernail purple to represent the 1 in 10 statistic. Not only is this a great way to raise awareness of women that have PCOS in the UK, but it’s also an opportunity to start a conversation about PCOS. Having one purple fingernail can be a bit of a conversation starter, which allows you to explain why you’re doing it and to remind people that it is PCOS awareness month. This might encourage them to raise awareness too or to donate to the cause. You may even realise that there are people around you who also struggle with PCOS without you having known. If they are someone you socialise with either at work or a class, this may become a person whom you can confide in about the condition and you may find a community of people you can help too.

Painting your nail purple is a small and simple way to spread awareness for PCOS. Some people like to go a step further and reach out to more people by taking a photo of their purple nail and posting it on social media. (If you would like to do this, use the following hashtags: #️⃣ 1in10 and #️⃣ PCOSAwareness)

Move Your Body

During the month of September, anybody with PCOS, or anyone who would like to support their loved ones, are encouraged to #️⃣ MakeAMove for PCOS as a 30-day challenge. This could be anything from participating in a 30-day yoga challenge, setting a daily step goal for yourself or getting up and dancing for 10 minutes a day – any activity of your choice that you feel is manageable for your condition. If you would like to take to social media during this month, there is a specific activity you could try using the hashtag #100forPCOS which is where you walk, run or cycle for 100 miles over the month. There are also specific yoga classes that are tailored to women who struggle with fertility and reproductive issues such as PCOS.

Challenging yourself to commit to a daily activity for a month is a part of PCOS awareness month that aims to support your mental health. PCOS can make exercising extremely challenging, difficult, or nearly impossible for some. Challenging yourself everyday can help with your mental wellbeing while also reminding you of your capabilities, your strength and your determination. Studies have suggested that after 30 days of activity, cortisol levels are reduced (meaning you will be under less stress) and it can help to regulate your hormone imbalance, which is a huge contributor to PCOS. Regular movement, even if only for a short amount of time, can sometimes help to manage the symptoms of PCOS and you may notice this by the end of the 30-day challenge. The 30-day challenge can also be a way for folk to get involved who don’t struggle with PCOS but want to support those who do, By taking up this challenge with a friend, partner or relative who struggles with PCOS, you could be a great support to them.

PCOS Photo Challenge

Verity is a charity for PCOS sufferers that is raising awareness for the condition in the month of September. By searching their account (@VerityPCOS) on social media channels, you will be able to find their photo challenge graphic so that you can join and participate in spreading awareness. Each day throughout the month, you will take a photo and use the daily prompt from Verity to discuss a different aspect of PCOS that has impacted your life, or that is rarely discussed, thereby helping others who have been living with a PCOS diagnosis or those who have just been diagnosed. By participating in this challenge, you will find a community of support and will be able to help others through sharing your experiences too.

How to get involved in the US

5K Run / Walk — 29 August – 1 December 2021

The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association is hosting a 5K Run / Walk (which is one of the largest PCOS events in the country) in order to raise awareness and reach their goal of raising $50,000. So far they have raised $37,788 and are looking for people who will either sponsor one of their runners or join in to be sponsored. Due to COVID, participants have the options to do a virtual or in-person walk, as an individual or as a part of a team.

If you would like to join the run but are not sure how to receive funding, here are some suggestions on how you can fundraise:

  • reach out to people in your social group and family members to see if they will sponsor you
  • some employers offer a matching gift program which can double the price of any funds raised
  • organise a team to run with you as this will fundraise through your social circle and theirs too

There are some steps to join this race, such as signing up and personalising your fundraising page. Visit The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association website for more details.

Get Involved in Your Own Creative Way

There are many ways to get involved in PCOS awareness month, so don’t feel restricted by only the events that are available in your area. Here are a few innovative ways that you can create a space for PCOS awareness, without going through organised events:

  • See if you could try a new challenge for 30 days (don’t worry if you can’t partake in exercise challenges as this can be any challenge you want, such as paintings that maybe focus on expressing your feelings about PCOS and your journey; or it could be a singing or other challenge. Get creative with the possibilities.). Then seek out sponsorship for it. You can set up a Just Giving page to find sponsors
  • You could host a virtual or in-person coffee morning in your local area as a fund raiser
  • Due to COVID, spreading awareness through social media seems like a good way to join in and this is especially useful for utilising any skills or talents you might have. Maybe create chalk pavement artwork on a daily basis and post it to social media or set a 30-day challenge to create a large knitted or crocheted art piece that people can follow on Tiktok or Instagram. You could write poems and post them, all relating to your experiences with PCOS
  • You could reach out to local businesses to see if they would be willing to get involved by either changing their lights for the month to purple, or putting up an awareness poster

Whether you would like to paint one nail purple, begin a 30-day challenge or join a 5k run, getting involved in PCOS awareness month would be a great opportunity to educate people on the condition and to raise funding for more research.

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