Star Wars Actress Opens Up About Struggles With PCOS

What can you learn from her, and how can you make a difference?

Daisy Ridley and PCOS
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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) got some much-needed attention in June 2016 and it’s all thanks to Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley.

The lead actress of the latest Star Wars film opened up on her Instagram account about having PCOS and her own personal struggles with the condition. In her Instagram post, sporting a smiling picture of herself with a white facemask, Riley shares that her skin was “the worst” and that she tried everything from products to antibiotics to make it better.

It wasn’t until she was diagnosed with PCOS that she got answers and better skin. “With some help from a dermatologist and cutting out dairy (waah, except for spontaneous ice creams) and cutting down sugar (bigger waah but gotta do what you've gotta do). Finally. Finally.” the actress shared.

How Diet Changes Can Make a Difference

Wondering how cutting back on sugar and dairy can improve the quality of the skin? A report published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that sugar and dairy, in particular skim or fat-free milk, can increase androgens (male hormones such as testosterone, which all women have) as well as insulin levels. By raising these hormones, dairy and sugar contribute to acne production. At least two or more servings of fat-free dairy was shown to cause the worst acne.

Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of testosterone and insulin. If you are suffering from acne, try cutting down on sugar and dairy for a few weeks to see if your skin improves.

Cutting back on sugar can also reduce your risk for developing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, which women with PCOS are at a high risk for developing.

The Search for Answers

Besides bringing awareness to PCOS, a condition that affects at least one in ten women of childbearing age, Ridley encourages women to get answers if you feel something isn’t right.

“To any of you who are suffering with anything, go to a doctor; pay for a specialist; get your hormones tested, get allergy testing; keep on top of how your body is feeling and don't worry about sounding like a hypochondriac.”

These words are so important for women with PCOS. The truth is, most women with the condition seek treatment from several different doctors until finally getting a proper diagnosis. Trusting your gut instinct is always something I recommend if something doesn’t feel quite right. And if you’re not satisfied with the care you received, see another doctor until you are.

Why Is PCOS Ignored?

It is very frustrating that one of the most common endocrine disorders in the United States is under diagnosed. Reasons why PCOS doesn’t get more attention are numerous. These include lack of funding, varying presentations of PCOS, and differing diagnostic criteria, among others.  

Budget cuts by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has had a big impact on PCOS awareness and diagnosis.

Currently less than 0.01 percent of the NIH budget for funding research goes to PCOS. Without a better understanding of the condition, PCOS is difficult to diagnose and treat.

Other celebrities known to have PCOS include Victoria Beckham, Jillian Michaels, and Kate Gosselin, however, none of them have been public advocates for PCOS awareness or have shared much about their struggles with the condition. Goesselin once shared her struggles with infertility due to PCOS before giving birth to sextuplets, featured on the former reality show, John and Kate Plus 8.

Since Ridley’s brave announcement that she has PCOS as well as endometriosis, mainstream media has been talking about these conditions, hopefully leading to more women getting diagnosed and receiving the treatment they need. To raise more awareness for PCOS, it would be great for more celebrities to open up about their struggles with the condition. I hope Ridley will continue to publicly discuss her experiences with PCOS.  

How You Can Make a Difference

While celebrities have the star power to put PCOS on the map, awareness can come from anyone and anywhere. If you have PCOS, speak up about it. Share with others what you are suffering from. You never know if they may have PCOS and just aren’t aware of it. September is PCOS Awareness Month. This is a great time to get involved with other non-profit organizations such as PCOS Challenge or PCOS Awareness Association to spread awareness of this common yet overlooked condition.


Burris J. Acne: The Role of Medical Nutrition Therapy. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2013;113.

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