Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects 1 out of 10 Malaysian women who are in their childbearing years. It is an incurable disorder that typically runs in families, often resulting in irregular menstrual cycles, physical changes and probably worst of all, infertility. For those who aspire to become parents, having PCOS can seem like a final nail in the coffin. But many women have shown that having this condition is not a death sentence on your motherhood dreams. One such beacon of hope is Ili Sulaiman, celebrity chef, television personality and fellow PCOS survivor who has defied these impossible odds and is now a proud mother of a bouncing baby boy. She regularly posts updates and advice on her Instagram on how to manage symptoms, including resources, learning material and support groups. Here's her story and what she does to maintain a happy, healthy life. False Positives and Second Opinions PCOS is caused when the ovaries secrete an excess of the male hormone called androgens, leading to irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, and when not properly managed, even depression and diabetes. This is why it is so easy to misdiagnose, much like many gynaecological disorders. You should always trust your body and what it's telling you, because as Ili found out, even doctors can get it wrong sometimes. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ili Sulaiman (@ilisulaiman) Ili's first symptoms manifested in 2016 as fatigue and hair loss, something her doctor mistakenly attributed to autoimmune dysfunction. Dissatisfied with the initial diagnosis and ineffective treatments, she decided to get a second opinion when her periods suddenly stopped. Fearing it might be PCOS, Ili turned to a gynaecologist, who confirmed her suspicions in 2018. But the struggle did not stop there. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ili Sulaiman (@ilisulaiman) Further bloodwork at another medical facility showed other underlying symptoms like thyroid and vitamin D deficiency. Ili would later be diagnosed with endometriosis in 2020 on top of PCOS. It wasn't until two years on medication that her condition improved. Not wanting other women in her situation to face the same kind of struggle in getting diagnosed, Ili co-founded My PCOS I Love You, a non-profit organisation dedicated to spreading awareness of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and as support for people who need it. Harnessing the Healing Power of Food View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ili Sulaiman (@ilisulaiman) Being a chef, her entire life revolved around cooking. Now, Ili had to reassess her relationship with food. In this case, her knowledge of the culinary arts is also her secret weapon. Ili knows exactly how to heal her body naturally with healthy recipes and nutritious ingredients. So far, she's shared various PCOS friendly dishes and meals with her followers like cauliflower Nasi Kerabu,\u00a0Asian noodles, rice cakes, Buddha bowls, vegetarian oyakodon and sour leaf curry. Here, she shows her followers how to make avocado poke bowls: View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ili Sulaiman (@ilisulaiman) Aside from reducing sugar and eating more protein and veggies, Ili also recommends swapping out your carbs. For example, replacing yellow noodles and pasta with beehoon and kway teow. And instead of white rice, opt for par boiled basmathi rice or brown rice. Aside from her PCOS medication, Ili also takes inositol to boost ovarian function and reproductive health. She says this supplement has been a wonder pill in helping restore and maintain her menstrual cycles. Prioritising Fitness and Mental Health View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ili Sulaiman (@ilisulaiman) One of the main problems with PCOS is that it creates insulin resistance, increasing your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. So, it's important for PCOS sufferers to work out as often as they can since exercise can increase insulin sensitivity. The higher your insulin sensitivity, the better your body gets at controlling your blood sugar. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ili Sulaiman (@ilisulaiman) For Ili, fitness has now become one of her main priorities. She manages to squeeze in at least half an hour of exercise every day or every other day. She also practices meditation to help manage the stress and depression that often manifests as common PCOS symptoms. A psychological factor of the disorder that is often overlooked. Embracing Motherhood Out of the many possible reasons that make it difficult for women to conceive, PCOS takes the top 5 spot. Irregular periods also mean irregular ovulation, making it almost impossible for prospective mothers to get pregnant. But this didn't stop Ili from defying those odds, even with endometriosis on top of it all. She listened to her body and took responsibility for her own health. And she was rewarded with the most precious gift of all: motherhood. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ili Sulaiman (@ilisulaiman) Ili owes her success to her lifestyle changes and not just in terms of diet and fitness. Supplements, food and exercise are surely all important in managing any illness. But it's also important to have a supportive partner, to get enough sleep, and to keep a positive outlook. "As long as you're happy and in love with your body and yourself, there's not a single obstacle you can't overcome." - Ili Sulaiman, mum, celebrity chef, television personality and PCOS survivor Mummies, don\u2019t miss out on your chance to get limited Motherhood.com.my vouchers today by casting your Motherhood Choice Awards 2022 votes\u00a0here! For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to\u00a0Motherhood Story!