Each November, thousands of male grow mustaches to bring awareness to men's health issues, such as prostate cancer and testicular cancer, in a campaign known as "Movember." This year, a British woman with a pre-diagnosed medical condition grew a beard in support of the cause.
Siobhain Fletcher, a 36-year-old from Leek, Staffordshire, was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) when she was just a teenager. PCOS is a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of female sex hormones, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. PCOS can cause women to develop male-like characteristics, including abnormal hair growth on the face, stomach or chest.
"When I started getting my periods, they never became regular - I thought that was a bonus!" Fletcher told ABC News. "I started getting a few hairs, around 15 or 16. Every woman gets facial hair. I thought that was just part of puberty. I cut with scissors, or shaved them off." She identified the issue when she was in her 20s and attempted to remove the hair by shaving, waxing and using chemical creams.
Fletcher's decision to grow her beard for Movember took courage. She had self-esteem difficulties growing up, has been mistaken for a man and was housebound for five years, she revealed during an interview with ITV2's "This Morning" on Tuesday.
“My condition used to contribute to depression and anxiety but this is for a good cause and I want to highlight that people shouldn’t judge you on what you have on your face, it’s what is inside that matters," Fletcher told the Mirror on Nov. 10.
In early November, Fletcher's friend told her that he was growing a mustache in support of Movember, and she was inspired.
"I pointed out that he had a bit of face fuzz, and asked about it. He told me about 'Movember,' and in a spur of the moment decision, I decided to grow mine," she told ABC News.
Some women who have joined the Movember or No-Shave November movement have faced disapproval, but Fletcher is pushing back against that.
"Now it’s actually saying to the world, look, this isn’t a sideshow, I’m doing this to raise awareness for men’s cancer to stop families possibly losing a family member and also to help people with self-esteem issues to say, ‘It doesn’t matter,'" Fletcher said about growing a beard for Movember on "This Morning." Adding, "People will still look as beautiful with facial hair as without it."
Fletcher has raised £1,040 (about $1,663) on her Movember page as of Wednesday afternoon. On her page, she cites her motivation as: "To use my PCOS as a tool for raising awareness for Men's cancers. If I get just one man to get checked out it will be worth it."
If you want to help Siobhain Fletcher promote men's health, donations can be made on her Movember page.
Click here to watch the full episode of "This Morning," featuring Siobhain Fletcher's interview about growing a beard for Movember. Her interview begins at the 44-minute mark.