Choosing to Embrace My Excess Body Hair Was the Best Decision of My Life | This Morning
How a woman learned to embrace excessive body hair from PCOS
Leah Jorgensen decided to stop shaving and come to terms with her body hair. Courtesy of Leah Jorgensen.
- Leah Jorgensen suffers from .
- Jorgensen spent years shaving the unwanted body and facial hair that made her feel like a "freak."
- In 2015, she decided to ditch the razor and embrace her body hair.
- "It's really comforting to see someone who looks like you when you feel alone," Jorgensen told INSIDER.
For years, Leah Jorgensen went to desperate measures to hide her body hair from others. She spent countless hours shaving and curated a wardrobe of long sleeved shirts and long pants to cover her hair.
As a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Jorgensen grows hair in places that most women don't, like her cheeks, chest, stomach, and back. Jorgensen tirelessly removed and hid her hair from the world. That is until she was rushed to a hospital following a car accident in 2015. There, paramedics cut her clothes off to perform surgery, marking the first time outsiders saw the extent of her hair growth.
"I was expecting a horrible response but they were all very kind and respectful and just wanted to help me," Jorgensen told INSIDER. The accident helped Jorgensen realized that no one really cared what she looked like, and she decided to ditch the razor for good and open up about her struggle with PCOS.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age.
Jorgensen hopes that being open about her body hair will help other women with hirsutism do the same. Courtesy of Leah Jorgensen
PCOS is the result of a hormonal imbalance, in which a woman's ovaries produce an excess of male hormones that are similar to testosterone."That's why a lot of women grow excess facial hair," Fiona McCulloch, a naturopath practitioner and the author of "8 Steps to Reverse Your PCOS," told INSIDER.
PCOS affects between five to 10% of women aged 15 to 44, making it one of the most common endocrine disorders among women, according to the Office on Women's Health.
Many women don't know they have PCOS, although there are usually symptoms.
The main symptoms of PCOS are male-pattern hair growth, hair loss on the scalp, irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, and darkening of the skin along neck creases, the groin, and underneath breasts, according to the Office on Women's Health.
McCulloch said PCOS can lead to reproductive problems, infertility, diabetes, and high blood pressure which can then lead to heart disease, stroke, obesity, and insulin resistance.
"It's a very stressful condition," McCulloch told INSIDER. "There's increased anxiety, depression and it's not just related to the cosmetic elements of this condition, but it's because there's a lot of hormonal imbalance."
McCulloch told INSIDER that a woman should get checked if she is having trouble getting pregnant, experiencing weight gain around her stomach, or has a family history of diabetes.
PCOS never goes away completely, but it can be "reversed" in many cases.
Some people have a more difficult time "reversing" their symptoms of PCOS than others. Courtesy of Leah Jorgensen
There is no cure for PCOS, but there are ways to manage the symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic. For many women, that means a combination of treatments to target different elements of the condition. Medicine and hormonal birth control can be used to regulate hormones, and dietary changes can help combat insulin resistance.
"A lot of women find that if they follow a really good nutrition plan, that makes the biggest difference for them," McCulloch told INSIDER. She suggested avoiding foods with a lot of sugar or refined carbohydrates.
Treatment forbody hair may help, but it won't stop hair growth completely.
Jorgensen told INSIDER that she still frequently shaves her face. Courtesy of Leah Jorgensen.
"It's a very difficult aspect of the disease to deal with ongoing," McCulloch told INSIDER. "A lot of people have genetics that, in addition to PCOS, make them more likely to grow body hair. When they change their diet, it will make it better but it won't eliminate the hair that's already grown." For some, hair removal is too expensive or time-consuming. For others, like Jorgensen, body hair is something they've learned to embrace.
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