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Nigerian media maven, PCOS advocate Stephanie Coker Aderinokun, produces Amazon Prime documentary

Nigerian TV host, actress, and media personality Stephanie Coker Aderinokun is shattering barriers in the entertainment industry by championing the cause of women and girls battling Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

Stephanie, a fervent advocate for women’s health, particularly those affected by PCOS, recently transitioned into the role of a producer through her latest project, a documentary now showing on Amazon Prime titled “Where The Heck Is My Period?” The documentary aims to educate society about the realities of PCOS as a condition affecting millions of women globally.

Tell us about “Where the Heck is My Period” – Why did you decide to produce the documentary, and why would you encourage women around the world to watch it?

    Stephanie: When I was diagnosed with PCOS at 17, I felt overwhelmed by the lack of available information. It was a confusing time, and I knew countless other girls must be facing similar challenges. Having a platform and a voice, combined with my personal connection to PCOS, made creating awareness a natural choice. The statistics are staggering: one in six women of reproductive age in Nigeria has PCOS, yet awareness and research funding remain woefully inadequate. Considering its prevalence and potential consequences like infertility and type 2 diabetes, this condition deserves far greater attention. With my platform, I felt compelled to shine a light on this syndrome affecting so many, including myself.

    The documentary serves a dual purpose. By watching it, women can gain a deeper understanding of their own experiences with PCOS. They’ll see others openly discussing the very challenges they’re facing. This isn’t just an educational resource; it’s a powerful portrayal of real women from diverse backgrounds – different tribes, religions, age groups, and marital statuses (single and married). There’s guaranteed to be at least one woman with PCOS viewers can identify with. I encourage them to listen to these women’s stories and consider their advice, especially younger viewers who are just starting to navigate life with this condition. The documentary can be a valuable tool for managing PCOS.

    Infertility is a horrible side effect of PCOS, but you’ve been blessed to become a mom, and we see your journey to motherhood was facilitated through IVF. What are some tips you can share with other women who have PCOS and want to conceive, and for those who want to just feel healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally while living with PCOS? 

    Stephanie: Firstly, be patient with yourself. Research all possible treatments and try to consult a doctor instead of relying solely on Google. Be prepared for the emotional roller coaster; trying to conceive can be incredibly draining, and friends may not fully understand. Understand that it’s not that they don’t care; they simply might not be able to relate. Failed attempts at conceiving can be truly shattering, so having someone you can talk to, possibly a therapist, is crucial.

    For those aiming to lead healthier lives, be mindful of the foods you consume; keep a food diary to identify triggers of inflammation or any adverse effects. Explore options like inositol and determine if they work for you. Don’t overlook missed periods, and remember that you are not alone. There’s one in ten of us out there. You are seen and heard.

    What are some of the cultural stigmas you’ve had to face in Nigeria as a woman with PCOS? And yet, how do you think your Nigerian heritage has given you the power and determination to be a successful woman breaking down these very same stigmas and barriers?

    Stephanie: In Nigeria, one of the stigmas I’ve faced as a woman with PCOS is the assumption that excess hair growth is indicative of belonging to a specific tribe. Additionally, Nigerian culture often discourages open discussions about personal struggles, which led me to keep quiet about my condition. Moreover, there’s a societal expectation for women to be strong, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

    However, growing up within the Nigerian community, I’ve been inspired by the resilience of Nigerian women. Despite facing numerous challenges, they exhibit remarkable strength and determination. This resilience instilled in me a belief that I can overcome any obstacle. Nigerians are known for their tenacity and ability to succeed in the face of adversity. We are a people who don’t make excuses; instead, we roll up our sleeves and get things done, regardless of the circumstances.

    There’s a popular saying that if you can thrive in Lagos, Nigeria, you can thrive anywhere. This reflects the resilience and determination deeply ingrained in Nigerian culture, traits that have undoubtedly influenced my journey in breaking down stigmas surrounding PCOS and achieving success as a woman.

    Being the producer of the first documentary out of Nigeria to be licensed on Amazon Prime is a big deal, especially as a woman. What does this accomplishment mean for you?

    Stephanie: This accomplishment means the world to me, honestly. Even before the release of the documentary on Prime Video, I received countless messages from women struggling with infertility. It’s incredibly rewarding to connect some of these women with specialists like gynecologists, and even more so to have been able to directly support their treatment. One such woman, after connecting through the documentary, conceived and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! This, I believe, is the documentary’s greatest gift – the gift of life itself.

    You look very young! Do you mind sharing your age and telling us what inspires you as a woman with so many accomplishments?

    Stephanie: Thank you for the compliment! I’m actually 35 years old. As a woman with numerous accomplishments, I find inspiration in several aspects of my life.

    Firstly, the knowledge that people look up to me and that I have the power to make a positive impact is incredibly motivating. Additionally, the thought of my daughter growing up and being proud of me drives me to continue striving for success.

    Moreover, I draw inspiration from women who effortlessly juggle multiple responsibilities yet still manage to achieve great things without compromising their authenticity. Their resilience and determination serve as a constant reminder that anything is possible with dedication and perseverance.

    If you could share a message with women around the world with PCOS, what would that message be?

    Stephanie: To women around the world living with PCOS: You are not alone. Your journey with PCOS is unique, but know that there are millions of us navigating similar paths. Remember to be kind to yourself, be patient with your body, and seek support when needed. You are strong, resilient, and capable of overcoming any obstacle that comes your way. Keep advocating for your health, and never underestimate the power of your voice. Together, we can raise awareness, break stigmas, and support each other in our journey towards wellness and empowerment.

    Do you have any upcoming projects we can look out for in the future?

    Stephanie: I’ll be embarking on a university tour across Nigeria to raise awareness about PCOS. During this tour, we aim to test 1000 women for early detection and intervention. This initiative is crucial in tackling the lack of awareness and understanding surrounding PCOS in our communities.

    Additionally, I’m excited to share that I won a grant from the British Council to produce a short film, with one of the central themes focusing on reproduction. I’m thrilled about this upcoming project and the opportunity to shed light on important topics through filmmaking.

    Check out Stephanie Coker Aderinokun and “Where The Heck Is My Period?” on Instagram: @stephaniecoker & @thefutureisher 

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