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If you haven’t heard of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), you’re not alone. Despite the fact that the endocrine disorder affects an estimated eight to 20 per cent of reproductive-age women around the world, causing side effects like weight gain, hair loss, acne, infertility and, as in vlogger Nova Galaxia’s case, excess hair growth, it’s not often discussed.

Galaxia tired of fighting her silent battle against this common but under-the-radar syndrome, so, back in November of last year, she decided to do something about it. Or, perhaps more accurately, to stop doing something about it. Shaving.

“After fourteen years of shaving every single day, avoiding sleepovers as a teen, panicking if I forgot my razor when I went out of town, dreading if I ever ended up in the hospital where I’d be unable to shave, and not allowing my partner to touch my face, I put the razor down,” she wrote in a recent personal essay on Graceless.com.

Here’s she is explaining her idea for No Shave November, which started it all.

Soon, the comments and messages started pouring in and the 26 year old found herself acting as a much-needed confidant to women around the world who were dealing with similar issues.

“It’s made me furious,” she writes. “Why is this such a common issue that is kept secret to the point of damaging so many women’s lives?”

After embracing her own hair growth — she’s even been experimenting with glitter in her beard, which didn’t go quite as planned — Galaxie also experienced an unexpected change.

“Jump forward two and a half months, and here I am, fully-bearded, at least two inches of growth. Hair all over my chest, breasts, and stomach,” she writes. “I went from living a daily nightmare to being incredibly in love with my hair in just that short amount of time. I no longer recoil in fear when my partner reaches out to touch my cheek. My confidence has spiked, and with it came some much needed self love.”

By accepting her body, side effects and all, Galaxia is not only giving herself a healthy shot of self love, but is also helping to raise awareness and support for a widely underserved and underrepresented community of PCOS sufferers worldwide.