Inside Sasha Pieterse's Experience With PCOS

Actress Sasha Pieterse was a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2017 when she opened up about her experience with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS (via People). The "Pretty Little Liars" star got candid about her mysterious weight gain and subsequent diagnosis with PCOS, which can be difficult to diagnose.

PCOS is a disorder that causes hormonal imbalance, leading to infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods and elevated male hormones in women (via Mayo Clinic). Cysts can form in the ovaries, which might prevent ovulation from occurring. PCOS is diagnosed when you have at least two of the following signs: irregular periods, excess male hormones, or cysts in the ovaries. Symptoms can include infertility, excess facial and body hair, weight gain, acne, thinning hair, and skin tags, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

While experts don't know exactly what causes PCOS, it may have to do with insulin resistance (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). When the body doesn't use insulin well, it can build up in the system and cause higher levels of male hormones. It's also thought that if you have a mother or sister with PCOS, you may be more likely to develop it as well. Some women with PCOS are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and uterine cancer. PCOS is treated in a number of ways, like through diet and activity changes, medication to cause ovulation, and birth control pills.

Why Sasha Pieterse is talking about PCOS

When Sasha Pieterse was on "Dancing with the Stars," she opened up about gaining 70 pounds over a two-year period, which led to rude comments and hurtful reactions (via People). She didn't understand why she had put on weight until she was finally diagnosed with PCOS and could attribute it to hormone imbalance. She told People how many symptoms of PCOS can seem normal, like difficulty losing weight and irregular periods, but it's important to go get it checked.

Pieterse lost 15 pounds while on the show and said she was finally feeling like herself again (via People). She described herself as a happy person with amazing family and friends. However, she had been going through a hard time as she grappled with her PCOS diagnosis. She was aware of the huge platform she had to speak about it and hoped she could help even just one person in their PCOS journey.