Dozens of people from Georgia and other states took to the Nation’s Capital to lobby congress for what they believe is a silent epidemic impacting as many as 15 percent of women. Advocates went to Washington D.C. a day early to prepare for PCOS Advocacy Day.
In less than 24 hours, advocates from across the country will paint Capitol Hill teal. Most importantly, they will stress to Congressional leaders the importance of research and funding for polycystic ovary syndrome.
It was a day of training before a long day of advocating. Women and even some men made their way to the nation’s capital to talk with federal lawmakers about PCOS, a serious genetic, hormone, metabolic and reproductive disorder impacting up to 15 percent of women.
“PCOS is recognized as a reproductive problem. A lot of girls go to an OB/GYN when they don’t have regular periods or they go to an OB/GYN and fertility specialist when they can’t get pregnant,” said Dr. Felice Gersh of Integrative Medical Group of Irvine.
Dr. Gersh shared with advocates preparing for the big day that PCOS is more than just a reproductive issue. PCOS Challenge: The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association reports women with PCOS are three times more likely to develop endometrial cancer and 50 percent of women with the disorder become diabetic before age 40.
An estimated 14 million women in the U.S. are affected by PCOS, according to PCOS Challenge. Of those women, 430,000 Georgia woman and 200,000 South Carolina women are impacted by PCOS.
PCOS brought Gabrielle Gaston to Washington from the Peach State. She said she’s been personally in the fight since 2015.
“PCOS, untreated, leads to many chronic illnesses that can be prevented or most of them can be prevented with the right knowledge and research,” said Gaston.
Physician’s Assistant Diana D’Amelio works with teens diagnosed with PCOS through Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut. She’s hoping to get more federal funding and research for them.
“They don’t know what’s happening,” she said. “They’re bodies are changing. They’re not getting periods. They’re having hair growth. They’re having insulin resistance and difficulty losing weight. It’s very stressful and overwhelming not to know what’s wrong.”
After training, advocates will speak with Congressional leaders about supporting the PCOS Awareness and Research Act and the 2019 PCOS Awareness Month Resolution sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Georgia Senator David Perdue.
“I have a handy, dandy packet that has some stats on the number of women affected by PCOS in the state of Georgia,” Gaston shared. “I’ll take those facts and figures along with my own personal story and speak with my congressman and senator.”
D’Amelio added, “It would help to have more research to diagnose exactly where PCOS comes from. We know there is a genetic component, but we don’t know exactly how it’s transmitted.”
Some celebrities will join advocates for PCOS Advocacy Day too.
MTV television personality Maci Bookout, NBC’s Superstore Actress Lauren Ash, and Miss Capitol Hill DC for America 2019 Megan Eunpu are all expected to attend.