“PCOS: A chronic medical condition that deserves comprehensive care” – with Dr. Basma Faris

Dr. Nathan Fox is joined by Dr. Basama Faris, RD to discus polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a complex hormonal disorder that can have a large impact on fertility and other health markers. Drs. Fox and Faris discuss the traditional treatment approaches toward PCOS, their pros and cons, and the resources available for PCOS patients struggling to find solutions. See Dr. Faris’ website, here: www.pollyprepmd.com.

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Dr. Fox: Welcome to today’s episode of “Healthful Woman,” a podcast designed to explore topics in women’s health at all stageas of life. I’m your host, Dr. Nathan Fox, an OB-GYN and maternal-fetal medicine specialist practicing in New York City. At “Healthful Woman,” I speak with leaders in the field to help you learn more about women’s health, pregnancy, and wellness.

Basma Faris, welcome to my podcast. I love having you here.

Dr. Faris: Thank you. I’m so excited.

Dr. Fox: It’s so nice to see you in person again. It’s been a while.

Dr. Faris: It’s been a while. Yeah.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. It’s crazy. We obviously go way back, and we’ll get into that in a good way. And you are also an OB-GYN at Mount Sinai on the Westside, which is where I and my practice will be migrating in a few months. So we’ll be reunited together again.

Dr. Faris: Looking forward to it.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. And Melka suggested that we talk for the podcast, which is great. Melka, you know, she’s like my agent.

Dr. Faris: Well, she does a good job.

Dr. Fox: She does a good job. So, who are you? What’s going on? You know, like, who are you? What’s your careers? Talk to me.

Dr. Faris: So, just really brief because it’s long. But I started my career in healthcare as a registered dietician. So, I studied nutritional science at the University of California at Berkeley where I just really fell in love with the topic. I just really nerded out on the nutritional biochemistry. and just loved how it, you know, applied to real-life situations and applied to humans. So I decided to become a registered dietician.

Dr. Fox: How did you make that decision, the first, the original one? Like, what led you to go into that versus something else?

Dr. Faris: You know, I was just taking different classes as an undergrad. I always knew I liked science. I was so on that science track and I took intro to nutrition, and I just thought, “Yeah, this is it. Like, this is really cool. I really wanna spend the rest of my four years studying this.” And there were two routes, so you could either take the route where that led you into research or the dietetics route, which would lead me into being a dietician. And so that’s the route that I chose. And I moved back home and enrolled at Brooklyn College where I got my master’s in nutrition and became a registered dietician. And I did that for a few years before I felt the pull to do something more with my life and decided that med school was the best choice. So, that wasn’t my intention from the beginning. And so in total, I worked as a registered dietician for about 10 years.

Dr. Fox: Wow. Now, how did you decide… This is amazing. In all this, the question that I’m most curious about, how did you decide to go to California? That’s not so typical for someone coming out of, you know…

Dr. Faris: It isn’t…

Dr. Fox: …New York.

Dr. Faris: …but my dad went there…

Dr. Fox: Oh, okay. Fine.

Dr. Faris: …and I was born there. And then we moved to New York when I was an infant…

Dr. Fox:Okay. You had roots.

Dr. Faris: I had roots.

Dr. Fox: Okay. Got it. Didn’t just come outta nowhere. Hey, I think I’m gonna go into Berkeley. Okay. So, you worked for a while, then you decide to go to medical school. How did you make that transition? Because you probably have to go back and do classes, or did they accept, you know, your pre-med courses from back when you were in college? How’d that work?

Dr. Faris: Yeah. So, I think most people don’t realize, to become a registered dietician, it’s actually a pretty rigorous curriculum. And it’s almost identical to the pre-medicine curriculum, with the exception of physics. So, that was all I was missing.

Dr. Fox: Right. And the people you’re studying with are a lot nicer?

Dr. Faris: Yes. That’s true. That’s true.

Dr. Fox: I’ve been in a pre-med lecture hall and it is kill or be killed.

Dr. Faris: So, yeah, it was definitely like a nicer, smaller vibe. More women in my classes. So, yeah. So, I had to go back and take physics, which I did. Incidentally, I met my husband in that physics class.

Dr. Fox: Wow. Game on.

Dr. Faris: So, even if it didn’t work out for med school, I got something out of physics, but it worked out.

Dr. Fox: During the whole magnetic attraction part of physics?

Dr. Faris: Correct.

Dr. Fox:All right. How about that?

Dr. Faris: That was pretty it.

Dr. Fox:That’s pretty lame. But that’s how I roll. All right. So, you took physics, you applied to med school, and while you’re in med school, are you still working or are you just shifting, I’m a med student.

Dr. Faris: I did work on the side. I lived next to the JCC and that was where, like, I had my gym membership there and I saw some clients on the side there while I was in med school.

Dr. Fox: All right. So, now, in med school, what was your thought going into med school? Are you gonna sort of parlay your nutrition into something in your medical career? You’re like, “Or I’m totally sort of like pivoting into a different type of career?”

Dr. Faris: I intended, actually, I thought I was going to be an endocrinologist or a gastroenterologist, which makes sense.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. Food, gut, all that stuff. Okay.

Dr. Faris: All of that stuff. But then, you know, somehow as like as it happens in med school, you find that you’re good at different things or different things interest you, and OB-GYN was that thing for me. It just clicked.

Dr. Fox: It just floated your boat?

Dr. Faris: Yeah.

Dr. Fox: Wow. Amazing. And then of course, that led you to the great Mount Sinai.

Dr. Faris: Correct.

Dr. Fox: Wow. And that’s where we met.

Dr. Faris: And that’s where we met.

Dr. Fox: I obviously remember that, but I can’t remember the years of when you were there versus how long I’d been there. But it was some time ago, only…

Dr. Faris: Yeah. So, I graduated from residency 10 years ago.

Dr. Fox: Right. Okay. So, I graduated from residency… What year are we now? 2023. So, I graduated residency 18 years ago. So, I was five years into being back for my fellowship. That seems about right. Yeah. For the record, she was a good resident. All right.

Dr. Faris: Thank you.

Dr. Fox: All right. So, you do your OB-GYN residency and you’re going through it. And then? Keep going.

Dr. Faris: So, I was working in a family health center in Brooklyn and just kind of trying to figure out how I was going to incorporate my love of nutrition and my background together. And I would do it in my own way in just seeing patients in the office on the regular, but I wanted to like, make it more formal. So, I went and I did this certification program in culinary medicine, which if anybody’s interested, it is sort of a postgraduate certification that physicians and other health professionals can do to learn about basically applied nutrition. So, how do you apply the science of nutrition to disease and to food? So, you get to learn how to cook too. So, it’s really fun.

Dr. Fox: I was gonna ask for culinary medicine. Well, first of, how long does that take? I guess it’s not full-time because, obviously, you’re still working, so.

Dr. Faris: No. So, it’s continuing education. So, it’s 60 CME credits.

Dr. Fox: Okay. So that’s a fair amount.

Dr. Faris: It’s a fair amount. And you do it over the course of two years, and there’s an exam at the end of it. And many of those CME credits are actually hands-on in the kitchen. So, yeah.

Dr. Fox: I was gonna ask what proportion it is actually like cooking and versus, you know, like reading and hearing lectures.

Dr. Faris: I think it’s about a third.

Dr. Fox: Wow. That is so cool. Now, the other thing, which I’m sure you know, but our listeners might not know, is that you’re in the practice of medicine, you’re seeing patients and you have all this knowledge and experience in nutrition and being a dietician, and most doctors have none or minimal.

Dr. Faris: Or very little. Yeah.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. I mean, I don’t wanna say it’s abysmal because it’s very hard. It’s a whole science and you have to also learn medicine, but it’s much less than you might think. Which is why most doctors, if they need to sort of get into that, we will often refer to a dietician, a registered dietician, you know, someone who’s trained in that specifically. So, I’m sure you noticed that. But in your own practice, were you able to incorporate it?

Dr. Faris: In small ways, you know, I sort of came up with my own screening questionnaires that I would use with all of my patients when I was doing, let’s say an annual or like a, you know, seeing a patient for the first time just in the way that we do depression screens and screening for, you know, substance abuse. I would have my own little, like, few questions that I would try to screen for and give advice wherever I could.

Dr. Fox: Tell me about your lunch. Yeah.

Dr. Faris: Yeah. I mean, sometimes it would be, you know, very specific like that. It’s challenging, you know, when you’re in an office in the current system, you don’t have a lot of time. And there’s a lot that we have to cover. And so I would find that, you know, challenging.

Dr. Fox: Okay. So, you decide to do culinary medicine. I mean, how eye-opening was that for you versus sort of reinforcing?

Dr. Faris: For me, it was reinforcing. I think for somebody who has less nutrition knowledge, it’s probably quite eye-opening. But for me, it was more of a refresher and sort of got me in the room with like-minded people, which is always a good thing.

Dr. Fox: Okay. And so how did you decide to use that in your career?

Dr. Faris: So, you know, there’s a few different groups, like as a generalist OB-GYN, I’d see patients who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or people coming in with various different conditions. And where I found I was spending the most time was with my patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome and because A, it’s a condition where nutrition is a big part of the management of the disease, and also because I found that for many of them, I was the only person that was, you know, going through that stuff with them. And so, you know, I decided to just hone in and focus on that a little bit more.

Dr. Fox: Right. So, what I wanna do is we’re gonna sort of pause your story and what you’re doing, and we’re gonna talk about PCOS itself. So, number one, so our listeners can get a sense of what you’re doing, and also because a lot of them are gonna be interested in what is PCOS, you know, how does it manifest? Who gets it? What do we do about it? So, let’s talk about that. So, how do you explain to people, you know, you’re at a party and a friend says, “Oh PCOS, what is that?”

Dr. Faris: What is that? Yeah. I always start by saying it’s a terrible name for what the condition actually is. PCOS stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. And that name comes from the appearance of the ovaries on ultrasound in some people that have polycystic ovarian syndrome. It appears like there’s lots of little small cysts. But really what it is, it’s a hormonal disorder that’s complex and affects many, many different organ systems. So, it applies to gynecology because it can cause people to have problems with ovulation.

They don’t ovulate regularly. They may ovulate late in their cycle, and that can result in irregular menstrual periods or infertility. But it also affects the skin. People have acne, they have facial hair, they may have balding in a more of a male pattern. People with PCOS, the vast majority have insulin resistance, which is a pre-diabetic condition, higher rates of anxiety and depression. So, there’s many different organ systems that are affected by this one condition that itself also has many different underlying causes.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. And it’s also one of those really interesting things where you could have 10 people with PCOS and each of them manifests very differently. When I speak to patients about it, one of the things I say is, one of the secrets in medicine is if there’s an S, if we call it a syndrome, it means there isn’t like a specific definition or diagnosis and we sort of don’t understand. Meaning no one says you have hypertension syndrome, right? You measure someone’s blood pressure, it’s high, they’ve got hypertension. Like, it’s pretty cut and dry.

Whereas polycystic ovarian syndrome and other things are syndrome, it’s like, well there’s like 15 things that are on the list, and if you have like six of them will call you as having the syndrome. And if you have four, we’ll be like, “Oh, you’re sort of like the syndrome.” And if you have 12, you have a bad case of it. But it’s not like you can just go and get an x-ray or a blood test or an ultrasound that’ll say polycystic ovary syndrome positive or negative. It just doesn’t work like that. And the other reason, like you said, it’s confusing because I do a lot of ultrasounds, you can have the syndrome and not have polycystic ovaries and you can have polycystic ovaries and not have the syndrome. So, yeah. It’s pretty poorly named.

Dr. Faris: It’s poorly named.

Dr. Fox: Go doctors. Good job.

Dr. Faris: I think probably as we learn more about it, we’ll discover that it’s a bunch of related distinct conditions that have similar presentation, but we don’t know that right now, so…

Dr. Fox: So, you mentioned a lot of the ways it can manifest. What is sort of the most common thing that’ll bother them or they’ll complain to their doctor, whatever it is, that will lead to a diagnosis of PCOS?

Dr. Faris: From the gynecologic perspective, people will come into our office complaining of their period’s late, it’s irregular, sometimes it’s heavy, sometimes it’s light, they don’t know when it’s coming, they may not get it at all, or they’re trying to get pregnant and they’re having difficulty. So, those will be, like, the most common presentations. But people sometimes will present to an endocrinologist because somebody told them that their sugar is high or they’re having difficulty losing weight, or they may start at the dermatologist’s office because they’re seeing somebody, you know, for their acne or their facial hair growth. So, it really kind of depends usually on their most bothersome symptom.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. And it can happen in teens, it can happen in adults. It potentially crosses a lot of specialties, pediatricians can see this, you know, internal medicine, obviously gynecologists, endocrinologists, you know, cardiologists, dermatologists, you know. A lot of people might be diagnosing this. And it is really pretty common, this is not a rare situation. A lot of people have this.

Dr. Faris: Current estimates are that 12% of reproductive-age women and people with ovaries have PCOS, and that’s probably an underestimate. So that’s a huge number. That’s something like 5 million Americans or something like…

Dr. Fox: Yeah. That’s a lot of people.

Dr. Faris: It’s a lot of people.

Dr. Fox: And not only is it something that can be like annoying, right? You know, in terms of like, I don’t wanna have an irregular period like that, annoying. And that could be sort of practically a problem in the now, meaning I’m having a hard time getting pregnant and I have to get my cycles regular in order to do that. But also, there’s potentially long-term health consequences to it, right?

Dr. Faris: So, you know, 75 to 95% of people with PCOS have insulin resistance, and insulin resistance is a pre-diabetic condition. So, you know, apparently, about 50% of people with PCOS will develop type 2 diabetes before the age of 50, which is a staggering number also. And then there are other, there are higher cardiovascular disease risks. If untreated, there’s higher risks of endometrial cancer, which is a type of uterine cancer.

And so, it’s important that people understand these risks and manage it like a chronic health condition so that they can decrease their health risks and not just attack each of the symptoms that they’re having. And so that’s why I think it’s important, you know, that we get the word out so that the pediatricians and the primary care doctors that are seeing these people are diagnosing it early and getting these patients the care that they need.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. I mean, like you said, it’s really a global problem that can manifest in many different ways. The same thing if you take someone, again, let’s say hypertension is a paradigm. You can have hypertension and not have heart disease, but you could be at risk for it. You can get it later. I mean, some people hypertension have it, some don’t, some have kidney disease, some don’t, some have other vascular disease, some don’t. And so, a lot of people with hypertension are gonna manifest differently, different levels of severity, different treatments are needed.

And it’s really the same thing with PCOS. It’s not the same for everyone. Some people have a very, very mild, or there’s not a lot of systems involved and there’s not much to do. In other people, it’s affecting their whole body and their whole system and it’s a really significant problem, and everything in between. And it’s also, I think there is a misconception that it only happens to people who are overweight or obese, and that’s not true.

Dr. Faris: That’s not true. It’s called lean PCOS. These are people who don’t have excess body fat, but they still have, you know, some of the same symptoms of PCOS. And I think they actually probably are more of a distinct condition, maybe more of like a true genetic component to it, you know, versus some of the other symptoms that we see.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. I mean, it’s hard because since people sort of look different when they present symptoms wise and sort of body types, and it does make it complicated. Another complicated factor we sort of touched on that before, people disagree about what you need in order to have the diagnosis, right? There’s even a lot of lack of clarity, I would say, or that’s what the kids say nowadays, lack of clarity, about how do you even like give someone that diagnosis?

Dr. Faris: Yeah. Well, there’s a few different criteria. So, I think the most widely accepted one that we use now is the Rotterdam criteria, that’s what the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, I think, ASRM, that’s what they use. And that, you know, I think we just need to decide on one and stick to it, so that way we can be consistent in our diagnosis.

Dr. Fox: Agreed. Now, in terms of the cause, why would someone get it versus someone not get it?

Dr. Faris: So, again, because it’s a syndrome, there are many different causes. And so, there are approximately, you know, 20 known candidate genes. So, it could be like very strictly genetic, yyou inherited this genetic mutation and you have PCOS. But they’re also epigenetic changes.So, these are changes that occur to your genes, your DNA after, you know, development either in fetal life, like while you’re a fetus, or even in your childhood or young adult life. And so those are by environmental factors.

And then, you know, I like to think of it as acquired PCOS. So, if somebody, you know, just different exposures and diet can also influence. So, somebody may have never had PCOS or they already had some underlying features and then something changes in their life where they have a change in their nutrition or a change in their body fat mass, and now all of a sudden, they have PCOS and they didn’t have it before.

Dr. Fox: Again, similar to like hypertension, you can have it because my father had it, his mother had it, and you know, and I get it, age 20, even though I’m in perfect shape, whatever it is. Or it could be something that maybe you weren’t “destined”, you know, genetically to get, but it’s environmental. And there’s obviously all the combinations.

Dr. Faris: Right. In between.

Dr. Fox:You can have this genetics sort of predispositions that you’re gonna get pushed over the edge quicker than someone else would. And this is true for most diseases, and it’s hard to tease that out because they all play a role in a sense. Okay. So, this is what happens. Traditionally, how is PCOS treated?

Dr. Faris: So, traditionally, PCOS is treated by managing the symptoms. And so, the most common, you know, if we’re talking about somebody who’s coming into my office and they’re complaining of some acne and facial hair and irregular periods, we will recommend an oral contraceptive. And there’s a few different good reasons for doing that. And I’m not saying that it’s not the right thing to do, and that’s historically what we’ve done because it solves a few different problems. It solves the problem of the irregular periods. It solves the problem of having too much estrogen and reducing that endometrial cancer risk. And it also helps with people’s acne because that’s another great side effect of the birth control pill.

But then what happens is when somebody decides they don’t want to use contraception anymore, now the syndrome comes back, the symptoms come back, so it may be insufficient.

Dr. Fox: And it also wouldn’t really impact necessarily things like insulin resistance, risk of hypertension, you know, those other problems?

Dr. Faris: Those other problems. Then we realize, well, a lot of people with PCOS have insulin resistance. And so, there’s another medication that’s commonly used called metformin, and that is an insulin sensitizer. And that’s also a really helpful treatment and those are still the mainstay of treatment for the majority of symptoms and for the majority of people. But it’s I don’t think enough personally, and I think people who have PCOS in their experience, it isn’t sufficient.

And that’s probably due in part to, there’s more to it. And also I think a little bit in part to education. Like, so I have a lot of patients who’ll come to me and they’ll say, “I’ve had PCOS for so long and my doctor just said, here, go on the pill and lose weight and, like, you’ll be fine. Come back to me when you decide you wanna get pregnant.” And that’s a very frustrating experience for the patients because they don’t really understand why, you know, like maybe they don’t wanna be on the pill.

Maybe they don’t like it, maybe they don’t like the side effects, maybe they’re not sexually active so they don’t understand why they should be on… you know, maybe they don’t like to be on something, you know, artificial hormones for whatever reason because the education isn’t there as to what it is and why we’re using it and what the benefits are. And you know, how it’s reducing some of your health risks. And so, again, not to say that it’s wrong or the bad, you know, the wrong treatment, but that it’s maybe just insufficient.

Dr. Fox: Well, I think also, you know, what you’re touching on is PCOS is really something that is a more global problem, right? And the global problem can have a lot of prongs that come out of it and manifest. And like you said, you can go after each of the prongs individually, and that’s not wrong, because if something’s bothering someone, you can help them. Great. But it’s not getting to the global problem, number one. Number two, also, people don’t really understand why I’m having this. That’s another thing. And the final part is because of that, you know, if let’s say I’m a dermatologist and I see someone with acne and it’s from PCOS, I as a doctor am only focusing on the acne, and I’m only really trained to focus on the acne.

I wouldn’t expect a dermatologist to start going into all this and treating people, you know, lifelong care for PCOS. That’s not really their field. And that’s fine. And so what happens is a lot of time this gets siloed. And so the gynecologist is like, “All right, I will have jurisdiction over your periods.” And the endocrinologist is like, “I will have jurisdiction over your insulin resistance.” And the dermatologist, “I’ll have jurisdiction over your acne.” But no one is really either able to or willing to or even thinks about who’s gonna be in charge of this care globally. And that happens in a lot of conditions. It’s not unique to PCOS, but this is one where since it crosses so many fields, like, who’s running the show here? And that’s tough. Who should it be, right?

Dr. Faris: That’s like in my head, these are like my words that’s like you’re saying.

Dr. Fox: You know, it’s just how we roll. You know, anyone who’s come through had to sit through my journal club Monday mornings to get tortured by me. You know, I just feel like I have like a link, you know, into your central computer there. So, this is a setup, obviously, for what you decided to do about this, which is awesome. So, let’s come back from talking about PCOS specifically to, what are you doing to make the world a better place right now?

Dr. Faris: Thank you. That’s a great segue. So, I decided after working, you know, in a traditional office and a few different neighborhoods around the city that I was going to really hone in and focus on PCOS. And in order to do that, I needed to be able to have some more time. So, I decided that one of the beautiful things about the pandemic is that it forced me to use telemedicine. And I hated it at the time because, for many, many gynecologic complaints, telemedicine is just really not…

Dr. Fox: Point the camera lower, lower.

Dr. Faris: It really like, you know, was not doing it justice. But I actually discovered that this was a great way for me to meet with my PCOS patients. And sometimes it was even better because I was actually able to see them in their homes and, like, see what they’re eating and, like, look at their kitchens, like, while I was talking to them. And so that really opened up this idea that I wanted to start a telemedicine practice solely caring for PCOS, and so I did that.

Dr. Fox: Wow. So, tell us about it. What’s it called? Let’s start with that.

Dr. Faris: It’s called PollyPrep MD. So, Polly, it’s a play on polycystic ovarian but’s spelled P-O-L-L-Y like the women’s name. And then prep because I want this to be sort of like a prep school. I want really the focus to be on education because I feel that’s really my job. Educating about the condition, educating about the management, educating about the risks. And then MD because I’m a doctor.

Dr. Fox: Because you’re a doctor, which…

Dr. Faris: Because I’m a doctor.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. And so that is what it’s called, it’s called PollyPrep MD. And that’s also your website. And what happens on PollyPrep MD? What happens when someone finds you?

Dr. Faris: Someone finds me and if they’re not sure about what I’m about, they can, you know, make an appointment with me to talk to me for 10 minutes or so and we can see if it’s a good fit.

Dr. Fox: Again, they sign up online. It’s virtual?

Dr. Faris: It’s all virtual. So, it’s all through the website.

Dr. Fox: You have no idea where you are.

Dr. Faris: There’s an online calendar.

Dr. Fox: You have no idea where you are. You can be right here right now.

Dr. Faris: Correct. I can be here. I can be in Brooklyn, where I usually am. And then they can sign up and have a visit with me. And the initial visit takes an hour.

Dr. Fox: Right. So, it’s like a real consultation.

Dr. Faris: It’s a real consultation where I go through their history, their whole PCOS history, I review their labs if they, you know, have gotten them to me in advance which is helpful. And I do a full nutrition assessment. And so by the use of, you know, my nutrition assessment history-taking skills, and there’s an app that I use called Diet ID, which also is another way to assess diet quality. And then together we come up with a care plan, and that can include nutrition recommendations, it can include recipes, it can include supplements, it can be adjustment of medications, it could be additional lab work. So, all of it, medical care and nutritional care.

Dr. Fox: And so, you’re going to the top of the pyramid and working your way down. You’re touching everything, right? And so obviously, you’ll get into the weeds on nutrition and diet because you can. And you can also do that medically because you can.

Dr. Faris: Because I can. Yeah.

Dr. Fox: Like you said, that’s the MD part. And then, what do you do in terms of like, is it like a full medical practice that you can order tests and you can get results and you can send them to other doctors? And you could do all those things, so it’s…

Dr. Faris: I can do all those things.

Dr. Fox: Right. It’s a real telemedicine practice. It’s not just like a neat service that people can get.

Dr. Faris: Yep. It’s not just education. It’s not just coaching. I can refer them and I have, you know, a great list of referrals. And I can send them to the lab and you, prescribe the medication, all of the things.

Dr. Fox: And then, what else happens there? There’s obviously an educational piece to you and to your website. How does that work?

Dr. Faris: So, that’s, you know, just one-on-one like face-to-face education plus all the different tools that I send electronically. Patients can direct message me, which is great for them. They want that connection, they want to be able to follow up. And then I’m working on an online course for people, and I’m hoping sometime whether this fall or early next year actually to do shared medical visits. And what shared medical visits are our group doctors visits.

Dr. Fox: Group of doctors or group of patients?

Dr. Faris: Group of patients with me…

Dr. Fox: Okay. The last thing you want is a group of doctors,

Dr. Faris: No, group of patients that all have PCOS that wanna go through like a really much more intensive experience where they get to spend, you know, 90 to 120 minutes with me over the course of several weeks, but also with their peers. So, it provides more education, because I’m able to just get that much more information across in that time period, but also it provides peer support, which has been shown to be really, really important.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. I mean people use it, obviously, if you’re focused, let’s say solely on weight loss, obviously, peer support is a big part. That’s how Weight Watchers sort of was successful. But this is just saying it’s the same concept but you’re talking about for medical care. That’s pretty cool.

Dr. Faris: They’re doing it a lot at Cleveland Clinic. They do it for diabetes and other chronic medical conditions. There’s a prenatal care model called CenteringPregnancy that back in my dietician days, I actually got to work with a midwife in CenteringPregnancy, which is group prenatal care. So, honestly it’s really inspired by CenteringPregnancy to be honest.

Dr. Fox: Wow. And now, when did you launch, recently?

Dr. Faris: Recently. In the last few weeks.

Dr. Fox: Wow. This is brand spanking new.

Dr. Faris: Brand spanking new.

Dr. Fox: And you have not otherwise retired from the rest of your practice of medicine, correct?

Dr. Faris: No. I am a laborist, which means I am an in-hospital obstetrician, so I still get to deliver babies and care for women in other ways, and teach the residents. And I love that.

Dr. Fox: So, it must be awesome for you when someone comes in labor and you find it that PCOS.

Dr. Faris: Like, yeah, you did it.

Dr. Fox: Wow. That’s really cool. And so far, I mean, obviously, since it just started, I don’t mean the response amongst like patients, but what has the response been from like your colleagues, your peers? Because this is a real pivot. Like, most doctors aren’t doing this. They’re either unable to or unwilling to, or afraid to, or haven’t even thought about these things. What has been the response when you talk in the doctor’s lounge about this?

Dr. Faris: Some people are really excited about it because…

Dr. Fox: I’m one of them. All right.

Dr. Faris: Cool. Great. Some people are really excited about it because, A, you know, I feel like it’s a solution for them. If they have a patient who has PCOS that they really would like them to get good care but don’t have the resources in their practice, they can send ’em to me. But I’m not gonna take their patient because, you know, I don’t have a place to do a pap smear. So, you know, they’ll see me and they’ll go right back to their physician.

So, I think that that, you know, is providing a service to my colleagues as well. Some people are really excited about it. I keep bumping into people who are like, “I have PCOS and I saw your Instagram and I think it’s so fantastic what you’re doing.” So, people that I’ve known but didn’t know that they had PCOS. So that I’ve been able to impact people in that way is really excited. You know, and there are some people that don’t get it, and that’s fine, you know, they will eventually.

Dr. Fox: Haters will be haters.

Dr. Faris: Exactly.

Dr. Fox: No, no one is a hater for this. I think it’s really cool. Okay. So, how do people find you? We mentioned there’s the website, which is www.pollyprepmd, and that’s two L’s in Polly. And it’s all one word, no dots, dashes, or anythings. Okay. And then you mentioned the Instagram. It’s called a handle?

Dr. Faris: A handle. Okay. Dr. Basma Faris.

Dr. Fox: Oh, okay. Got it.

Dr. Faris: So, that’s pretty simple. That’s the best place to find me there. And so, I post about food and not just PCOS on there, but, you know, nutrition and food and women’s health issues.

Dr. Fox: It’s amazing. Where do you see this going over time? What do you think?

Dr. Faris: You know, honestly, my hope is that this is a model for other people to do something similar. So, you know, right now, I’m licensed in New York and Florida, maybe I’ll get licensed in other states if, you know, the need is there. Or maybe I can convince some people in other states to come on board with me and we’ll grow so that we can provide people, you know, care across the country.

Dr. Fox: I think it’s amazing. No, this is definitely, as you said, this doesn’t replace certain aspects of medical care. It really just supplements and enhances, because…

Dr. Faris:I think so.

Dr. Fox:…it gives people an ability to do this and different, you know, from work potentially, from home. They can probably have someone Zoom in with them and from different places. I mean, we found in our own practice, like for when I do consultations for pregnancy or pre-pregnancy, it’s the same thing. It gives people access that they would never have otherwise. And the ability for them to see me, for me to see them, and it’s great. Even though I am doing the same thing I was doing beforehand, it opens it up. But it’s double. Not only are you opening this up to sort of everybody, it’s also more comprehensive than what they’re likely gonna get from any individual sort of specialist. Yeah.

Dr. Faris: I hope so. Yeah.

Dr. Fox: It sounds that way.

Dr. Faris: That’s my goal.

Dr. Fox: Sounds good to me. Wonderful. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Dr. Faris: You’re so welcome. I have to tell you something.

Dr. Fox: Oh. boy.

Dr. Faris: Your podcast was the gateway podcast for me.

Dr. Fox: I’m your sort of like marijuana that got you into crack?

Dr. Faris: Exactly.

Dr. Fox: All right, let’s do it.

Dr. Faris: I never listened to podcasts. So, I was like, “What is this podcast nonsense?” And I was like, “Well, if Nathan Fox is doing a podcast, like, he’s probably got something to say. Like, he’s a smart guy.”

Dr. Fox: If that idiot could figure out a podcast, I could probably turn one on and listen.

Dr. Faris: So, I started listening to it and I was like, “This is a really smart way… ” Like I would listen on my commute and I was like, “This is a really smart way for me to learn stuff.” And that just changed everything. I listen like almost exclusively. Like I hardly ever listen to music when I’m commuting, I listen to podcasts, and mostly, like, for learning. So, whether it’s medical related, science related, business related, you know, there’s a lot of great information out there.

Dr. Fox: That’s awesome. When are you going to start doing your PCOS podcast?

Dr. Faris: I don’t know,

Dr. Fox: Polly podcast. Wow. All right. There we go.

Dr. Faris: Let me think about it.

Dr. Fox: I’m planting a seed here.

Dr. Faris: All right. We’ll think about it.

Dr. Fox:You heard it here first folks. If there’s a Polly MD, Polly Prep podcast, the PPP…

Dr. Faris: I’ll give you the props that you deserve. Ooh.

Dr. Fox: Ooh, the PPP, the Poly Prep Podcast. Oh my God, that’s awesome. Listen, really, thank you for coming here. Thank you for coming in person. I know we could have done this over the phone.

Dr. Faris: You’re welcome. No, this is so much better.

Dr. Fox: So, nice to see you. It’s really a delight. I’m really looking forward to working with you sort of like day to day again on the labor floor.

Dr. Faris: It’s gonna be fun.

Dr. Fox: It’s gonna be really cool. And yeah, so for all you out there either if you have PCOS, you know someone with PCOS, you wanna learn about PCOS, check out the website PollyPrep MD, again, two L’s in that Polly, and I am certain you will find it really interesting and cool. Thanks.

Dr. Faris: Thank you.

Dr. Fox: Thank you for listening to the “Healthful Woman Podcast.” To learn more about our podcast, please visit our website at www.healthfulwoman.com, that’s healthfulwoman.com. If you have any questions about this podcast or any other topic you would like us to address, please feel free to email us at hw@healthfulwoman.com. Have a great day.

The information discussed in “Healthful Woman” is intended for educational uses only. It does not replace medical care from your physician. “Healthful Woman” is meant to expand your knowledge of women’s health and does not replace ongoing care from your regular physician or gynecologist. We encourage you to speak with your doctor about specific diagnoses and treatment options for an effective treatment plan.