THE Only Way is Essex star Chloe Brockett has told of her secret struggle having been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
The 22-year-old admits she's often left bed-bound with "excruciating" pain because of the condition, which can lead to infertility.
Chloe first suffered painful periods at the age of 11 before being put on the contraception pill two years later.
After gaining weight in 2021 while filming Celebs Go Dating, Chloe decided to come off the pill and quickly felt her symptoms return.
Determined to finally get a diagnosis after years of suffering, the 22-year-old pushed to have a hospital scan.
"I was worried my womb could be damaged," Chloe said in an exclusive interview with The Sun.
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"I'm 22 and I want to have children in the future. I don't want to be at risk and find out I've got a problems when I'm older.
"When I asked for the scan, my doctor told me I should just go back on the pill, but if I did that I'd be masking the symptoms and have to face it all in four years' time. Why would I do that?
"I felt anger about the diagnosis because I've had to fight to find out what's wrong with me."
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects one in five women and has an impact on how ovaries function – meaning sufferers can struggle to release an egg to be fertilised making it often extremely difficult to fall pregnant.
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Other symptoms include weight gain and facial hair growth.
Chloe says she can bleed for up to seven days – and sometimes gets two periods a month.
She gets a pricey dermaplanning facial done regularly to get rid of peach fuzz on her face.
Her condition can even have an impact on her work after being crippled by exhaustion on the new series of The Only Way is Essex.
"It's awful," Chloe adds.
"It's been affecting my work because I'd be late to filming because of it. It's been a nightmare.
"I was filming last week and I had to tell them 'I'm so sorry, I'm absolutely exhausted, I'm really struggling'.
"I was in so much pain, I had to take iron tablets because I was losing so much blood.
"I'm self-employed so I needed to be there, but Towie are very supportive. They are really understanding if I turn up late."
Speaking about how her symptoms make her feel, Chloe added: "My reactions to normal situations are definitely heightened. When I'm due on my period I'm horrific to be around.
"There's been times when I haven't been able to get out of bed.
"I understand a period is a natural way of life, but there are women out there who are really, really suffering.
"But there are people out there who just say 'oh it's just a period' and that really worries and scares me.
"I want to take this further. My symptoms aren't as severe as some women's and there's not a lot of help out there. I want to start something to help other young girls.
"I'm going to try natural remedies including a gluten free diet."
Chloe was 18 years old when she joined the Towie cast in 2019.
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She's been a main character at the centre of countless dramatic storylines ever since.
She has returned to film the latest series alongside co-stars after producers axed Mia Sully, Hannah Voyan and Pia Grace Smith.
What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
PCOS affects how a woman's ovaries function. It affects one in five women and means suffers can struggler to release an egg to be fertilised, making it difficult to fall pregnant. Medics don't yet know what causes PCOS.
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