PCOS Impacts Over 5 Million People In The United States Alone. This Woman Is Helping To Educate People On What It's Like To Live With It.

    "There was a time when mentally and physically I let my PCOS symptoms consume me. I'm way past that now, but to see the response of women struggling everywhere broke my heart and took me back to a time when I was 15 and I felt so defeated and devastated by my facial hair, I knew I had to talk about this and be transparent for them and for my 15-year-old self," Torri told BuzzFeed.

    Meet Torri! Torri is 33 years old and originally from Panama City Beach, Florida, but she’s currently traveling all over the US as the partner of a traveling nurse.

    And recently, Torri went mega-viral on TikTok for sharing her experience with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a hormonal disorder that is often referred to as PCOS.

    In the video — which has since been viewed over 20 million times and has over 5,000 comments — Torri can be seen discussing some of the side effects she has experienced while living with PCOS. Specifically, Torri can be seen pointing out hair on her chin before proceeding to pull out an IPL (intense pulsed light) hair removal device. She then proceeds to take viewers on a journey with her as she uses the device to pulsate and zap the hair on her chin in an attempt to remove the hair.

    Torri pointing at her chin hair

    When it comes to PCOS, Torri is far from alone. In fact, according to a study from 2020 published in the National Institutes of Health, as many as between 4–20% of people with ovaries live with this condition, while the US Department for Health and Human Services states that 1 in 10 women in the United States currently live with PCOS. To break that down even further, that's at least 5 million people of reproductive age in the United States alone.

    An illustration of a uterus with ovaries and cysts on ovaries demonstrating PCOS

    BuzzFeed caught up with Torri, who shared that she began posting videos about her experience with PCOS last summer and has been inspired by other people who share similar experiences with PCOS to continue sharing her journey. She told BuzzFeed, "It all started when I was posting a 'get ready with me' video and I had a little bit of stubble which I didn't think anything of at the time, but I guess the stubble was more noticeable in that particular video. The video got 100k views and HUNDREDS of comments talking about my facial hair, and other girls who were struggling with PCOS and female facial hair."

    Torri zapping her facial hair with an IPL device

    Torri continued, telling BuzzFeed, "There was a time when mentally and physically, I let my PCOS symptoms consume me. I'm way past that now, but to see the response of women struggling everywhere broke my heart and took me back to a time when I was 15 and I felt so defeated and devastated by my facial hair, I knew I had to talk about this and be transparent for them and for my 15-year-old self!"

    Torri using an IPL device on the space taken from her TikTok video about her experience with PCOS

    You do not have to look far to see the impact that Torri's videos have had on other people, both those who also live with PCOS and those who do not.

    Someone commented "I have PCOS and I am so grateful for these videos"
    One person commented "I was diagnosed with PCOS yesterday. Thank u for making it positive [heart emoji]"
    One person said "after seeing other people like you having the same problem I have I feel a lot more confident about the same problem I have it's given me a lot"

    To get more information on PCOS, we reached out to Dr. Marieme Mbaye (MD, FACOG), who has been a practicing OB-GYN for several years now.

    A closeup Dr. Mare Mbaye smiling widely

    "Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a lifelong, hormonal condition that we now know is probably under-diagnosed," Dr. Mbaye shared with BuzzFeed. "It's one of the most common causes of infertility, but because it's a syndrome (meaning it’s actually a group of symptoms), it affects much more than just fertility and continues well past the younger years."

    While this is obviously alarming for those who may live with this condition, Dr. Mbaye wants to emphasize that PCOS can be manageable through an individualized and balanced treatment plan involving lifestyle choices, medications, or both.

    When it comes to who is most impacted by PCOS, Dr. Mbaye shared that it's most commonly diagnosed in people between 20–40 years old because some of the most obvious signs of it are irregular periods and infertility.

    Young female holding echocardiogram of uterus test

    When asked what the general public could understand more about this condition, Dr. Mbaye shared, "Many people don't realize that people with PCOS also have a higher risk of psychological concerns like depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, and eating disorders as well as metabolic concerns like unwanted weight changes, abnormal cholesterol levels, insulin resistance, and diabetes. All of these things can be very difficult to control, even with the help of a provider."

    A woman who appears to be sad sitting at a table with a glass of water

    And Dr. Mbaye wants readers to remember that while weight can be a common concern for PCOS patients, it should not be the only focus. "Weight is a very common concern with a lot of PCOS patients, which makes sense given how much emphasis society puts on people being a certain weight or BMI. Weight can certainly make a big difference for many people with PCOS, but there are so many other factors at play here that only focusing on weight can become detrimental, especially when it begins to wear on a person's mental health."

    Women of all different shapes and sizes with their backs to the camera in a stock photo. They're all wearing sports bras and underwear in various colors

    As for Torri, she is overwhelmed from the positive responses she has received after sharing her journey with PCOS. She told BuzzFeed, "Even though this is so common for women, it's not something that is openly talked about, so to actually see millions of women come forward, it brought me to tears at times. And as much as it helped them feel less alone, it also helped me, it was healing."

    Torri going through her hair removal process

    To keep up with Torri and her journey with PCOS, you can follow her on TikTok or Instagram and check out her podcast, Sunny Lemons!

    And a special thank you to Dr. Marieme Mbaye for helping us all learn more about PCOS!