Degrassi's Andrea Lewis Talks Navigating the Entertainment Industry and PCOS

Every year in the United States, an estimated five to six million women are diagnosed with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormone disorder characterized by symptoms such as missed periods, excessive hair growth, acne, weight gain, and can struggle with infertility. 

When actress, filmmaker and influencer Andrew Lewis was diagnosed with PCOS in 2012 after months without her period, she was indifferent, “I was younger at this time, and truthfully, missing my period didn’t feel like that big of a deal,” she shares. When she reflects on her diagnosis, the Degrassi alum is shocked at her response to learning she had PCOS, “knowing what I know now, I can’t believe how nonchalant I was about the whole thing!” After visits with multiple doctors where she learned that she may have infertility issues due to PCOS, Lewis decided to take her health into her own hands, “That was the moment that my journey with PCOS began.”

PCOS Trial and Error: Finding What Works For Her Body

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, and despite the condition affecting anywhere between 7–10% of women of childbearing age, there isn’t a lot of research available. The most prescribed course of action is hormonal birth control. However, the Canadian-born actress was unable to access that option until she got her next period, “months went by, and my period didn’t show up.” Frustrated and confused, Lewis turned to Google and online forums, with other people in the same position as her. 

“Honestly my journey has been a lot of trial and error in figuring out what works best for my body.”

Lewis’s research produced vital learnings to help her manage her PCOS. One such learning was handling her stressful and hectic schedule as an actress and filmmaker.

How Stress Can Affect PCOS

One less-discussed trigger for PCOS is stress. Stress can throw your body out of balance and severely impact everyday life. Excess stress can lead to anxiety, sleep problems, weight gain and even heart issues. As a working actress, Lewis is all too familiar with increased stress levels, “The entertainment industry is very stressful,” she shares. “Stress isn’t good for anyone, but it’s really difficult to manage when you have PCOS,” she continues. Lewis might be on-set for 12-16 hours in her daily life and often travels across different time zones for work commitments. “Last year, I was working on a film set, and we did two weeks of night shoots, going from 4 pm to 6 am!” She shares. 

An industry and PCOS vet, Lewis says managing her stress levels with healthful daily practices like sleep and a good vitamin regimen are critical to managing her PCOS and feeling her best.

Managing PCOS Through Self-Care

“My life is very fast-paced, and to manage it all, it’s important for me to focus on the things that I can control,” says Lewis. Through trial and error, the Three Ways star has come to understand her health “non-negotiables”; practices she cannot forgo, regardless of her location or work schedule.

Practices like ample sleep help Lewis manage her, “I have to get seven hours of sleep regardless of what time I go to bed,” she shares. She also swears by several daily vitamins, including  “Vitamin D, Magnesium and Ionic Zinc.”

Exercise and movement are also part of Lewis’ routine, “I must do [intentional] movement at least three days a week,” she says, “no matter what that is, it has to be intentional for my physical and mental health.”

For the multi-talented entertainer, PCOS isn’t a condition to be “dealt with” but rather an integral part of her health and wellness journey, “I see it [PCOS] as a gift that forces you to pay attention to your body and prioritize your health in a way that will help you further in the long run,” she says. Taking care of her health and owning what she can control has helped Lewis remain positive, even in a sometimes frustrating and isolating situation.

Lewis isn’t letting PCOS negatively affect her life, choosing instead to focus on the net positive. She says, “In my experience, I find the more I give myself self-love and compassion, the easier it is for me to manage my PCOS.”

Allara provides personalized treatment that takes the guesswork out of managing PCOS, and offers a customized, holistic plan of attack that merges nutrition, medication, supplementation, and ongoing, expert support to begin healing your body.