Hormonal disorder study brings women together from all across Canada

Nicole Neuts
By Nicole Neuts December 15, 2017 15:03

Dr. Kendall Soucie and her student research assistants. from top left: Zoha Salam, Brittany Holmes, Cindy Ly, Peiwen(Lily) Cao, Amanda Bailey, Chantal Vein, Rachel Plowman, Kristin Schramer, Melissa Ristovski, Carli Cristofari, Sanaya Dhabhar. (Photo coutesy of Dr. Kendall Soucie)

By Nicole Neuts

A University of Windsor professor is conducting an all-female research study about an often misdiagnosed hormonal disorder.

Dr. Kendall Soucie, 35, is a psychology professor at the University of Windsor. She started a research study about polycystic ovarian syndrome and how often it goes misdiagnosed. Soucie applied for a research grant last February called Research Grant for Women. The grant allows up to $5,000, which gave awareness to students who then reached out to Soucie after she gave a lecture on the disorder.

Soucie, who was diagnosed with P.C.O.S. at the age of 27, started noticing significant changes in her health like gaining weight in a short amount of time. She also experienced migraines and dizzy spells and had no idea what was causing them.

“At first I was told I was pre-diabetic and to start watching my weight,” Soucie said. She soon realized that didn’t seem like the right diagnosis.

The 35 year old experienced hair loss on the top of her head, along with her prior symptoms progressing. After she received no luck on the Windsor area, she decided to go over to the states where she saw an Allergist, an Internal Medicine professional and an Endocrinologist. All doctors diagnosed her with P.C.O.S. immediately.

Soucie said there is a huge gap in the Canadian medical world when it comes to doctors knowing and properly diagnosing P.C.O.S. and took it upon herself to help others who have struggled like her

“I’m in the position that I’m in to be able to do something and maybe I can help in some way,” said Soucie. “Even if it’s just educating women how to advocate for themselves and their health.”

Although every case of P.C.O.S. can differ, some common symptoms include major weight gain in a short period of time, unsuspected breakouts, migraines, irregular menstrual cycle or multiple periods in one month, high blood sugar and insulin, inflammation or swelling of the joints, balding of the scalp and access hair growth caused by high amounts of testosterone and androgen.

There are numerous medical options to treat P.C.O.S. These options include metformin which lowers insulin levels, a testosterone blocker, an anti-androgen medication called spironolactone and fish oil for inflammation. There are also natural ways to combat the disorder, but doctors recommend personal research by either you or your P.C.O.S. specialist since every woman’s body reacts differently.

Soucie has had 16 interviews with women since the study started, but has 125 participants over all. She offers interview sessions which are an hour to an hour and a half process in person or on Skype. The study requires women between the ages of 18 and 40 with a diagnosis of P.C.O.S. are required to construct a diagnostic timeline from when they first were diagnosed to after they were diagnosed. They are also asked the first time they noticed something was wrong, how many health professionals they saw before getting the diagnosis, what gender were the doctors, who was and was not helpful and why, and how they were treated as a person during the time.

“We ask who diagnosed them as well because we have had women who said they were diagnosed by a receptionist over the phone, which is insensitive.” Soucie said.

Soucie also suggests when you first get diagnosed, do your research.

“Women need to read as much as they can and educate themselves as much as possible about this condition. They need to ask to see a specialist like an OBGYN or an Endocrinologist who has experience treating women with P.C.O.S. who can also help keep track of your health.”

In total, Soucie heads the research study which consist of 12 to 13 research assistants.

Assisting in the study is Kristin Schramer, a PhD student in the Applied Social Psychology program also at the University of Windsor. She says her experience with the study so far has been an amazing reward and describes her team as strong and passionate.

“It is so clear from the women that we are interviewing this is such an important topic that has the potential to highlight substantial issues related to women’s health within the Canadian healthcare system. The fact so many women have contacted us from all across Canada in order to share their stories demonstrates the impact this study is having already,” said Schramer.

 

To volunteer as part of Dr. Soucie’s team or to contribute to the study, you can contact 519-992-1868 or email [email protected]

Nicole Neuts
By Nicole Neuts December 15, 2017 15:03

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