Indian artist Ankita Das is out to demystify polycystic ovarian syndrome (or PCOS) with her series “Your Acystant to PCOS.” Despite being one of the most common endocrine disorders among people with uteruses, it is still widely misunderstood and misdiagnosed.

PCOS often leads to conditions like weight gain, heavy menstrual periods, hair fall and infertility. A study of immigrants in Britain found an increased incidence of the condition among South Asians.

Das, a student at the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Kolkata, recently told Scroll.in that she was first diagnosed with PCOS when she was 15. Her treatment involved being put on a strict diet in addition to taking birth control pills.

“One morning I saw hair on my face, and I felt ugly and abnormal,” she told Scroll. “I started telling people that I had an incurable disease. It is hilarious, in retrospect, because of my childish way of dealing with it.”

Das titled her project “Your Acystant to PCOS” as both a play on the word ‘cyst’ and to create a way for other PCOS patients to have a way to learn about and share their experiences with the disorder. The project is divided into three parts: terminology, symptoms, and its emotional and psychological impact.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Infertility, from the series ‘Your Acystant to PCOS’ Polycystic ovarian syndrome is one of the most common endocrine disorders in women of reproductive age. The prevalence of PCOS in India is 3.7% to 22.5%, with 9.13% to 36% prevalence in adolescents only. The exact causes of PCOS are unknown but it is said that PCOS is a result of hormonal disturbances induced by combination of genetic and environmental factors such as lifestyle and obesity. It triggers a reduced psychological and emotional well being and also an impaired physical, sexual, social and cognitive functioning. #reproductivehealth #HGPhotography #minimalzine #YourAcystantToPCOS #paradisexmagazine #cerealmag #noicemag

A post shared by Ankita Das (@herecomesthepotato) on

“The prevalence of PCOS in India is 3.7% to 22.5%, with 9.13% to 36% prevalence in adolescents only,” Das noted on her website. “The objective of this initiative is to let women know about this disorder so they are well-informed which then helps them to understand their body and its functions more and to take wise decisions related to the disorder.”

The artist wrote that she also hoped that the images and discussion it creates will help the husbands, brothers and fathers of women with PCOS better understand what their loved one is going through. The project “needs to initiate a feeling of sensitivity in the men so that they are well equipped and educated enough about this if any of their female relatives or counterparts is suffering from PCOS,” she wrote.

Das’s images, which can be viewed here, cover everything from what a uterus of someone with PCOS looks like to the psychological impact the resulting severe acne has on a patient. She has also created a prototype for an app that incorporates parts of the project.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Polycystic ovary, from the series ‘Your Acystant to PCOS’ Polycystic ovarian syndrome is one of the most common endocrine disorders in women of reproductive age. The prevalence of PCOS in India is 3.7% to 22.5%, with 9.13% to 36% prevalence in adolescents only. The exact causes of PCOS are unknown but it is said that PCOS is a result of hormonal disturbances induced by combination of genetic and environmental factors such as lifestyle and obesity. It triggers a reduced psychological and emotional well being and also an impaired physical, sexual, social and cognitive functioning. #reproductivehealth #HGPhotography #minimalzine #YourAcystantToPCOS #paradisexmagazine #cerealmag #noicemag

A post shared by Ankita Das (@herecomesthepotato) on

But while the images are starkly honest about life with PCOS, Das told Scroll.in that creating “Your Acystant to PCOS” was instrumental in helping her come to terms with her own condition.

“The project has helped me embrace my disorder and stop being ashamed of it,” said Das.

GET YOUR SLICE OF SOUTH ASIAN POP CULTURE

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

 I read and agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.