On her TikTok account gal_talk_, which has more than 120,000 followers, biomedical scientist Kellie Leonard debunks common myths about women’s health and shares her own fact-based findings about the topic. We talked to her about her inspiration for the channel and what all women can do to live healthier lives.
Tell me about your background in the medical field and your focus on women’s health.
I worked as a biomedical scientist in the U.K. National Health Service for eight years, specializing in reproductive health. I developed a passion for women’s health due to my work with endometriosis and organ dissection.
COVID led me to medical writing, and my TikTok account, Alternative Women’s Health, began as a way to share new research and address reproductive health issues. I really wanted a place to express things that I had found out, as well as speak on the politics in America, which unfortunately translates to reproductive health for some reason. It really picked up traction, so now I’m a medical writer, specializing in freelance medical communications for different women’s health and e-commerce companies.
How do you use your platform to educate and inspire about reproductive health?
I translate complex research into understandable information. I provide hope and frame information positively. I don’t have endometriosis, but I have friends who do, and it can be very distressing that they’ve been suffering with this disease for nearly a decade, yet there’s no real new treatments.
So, one way I suppose I do it is by giving hope to the public through digestible scientific research and facts. I also decode legislative changes, aiming to empower women with accurate science amidst media misinformation.
What advocacy initiatives do you support to advance women’s health?
I’ve worked with U.K. platforms like the BBC, ITV, and The Telegraph on documentaries, features, and radio shows to give a platform for honest conversations surrounding women’s health and the state of reproductive health. I’ve also tackled contraception issues and highlighted period poverty through U.K. nationwide campaigns. For that initiative, I was advocating for women living in poverty and educating school children on how they can safely navigate their periods. My primary goal with all of my advocacy initiatives is to raise awareness and promote accurate health information.
What are common myths about reproductive health that you address?
I debunk myths, especially celebrity-endorsed products like gummies with unsubstantiated claims. In most cases, there is no scientific evidence that the products actually do what they claim to. It bothers me when influential figures mislead women for profit.
How do you encourage informed health strategies?
I try to have as many open, honest conversations as I can. I always link all the studies that I reference. I always try to answer questions, as well; I am very open with my DMs and often go back and forth to ensure they get correct answers. I empower women to take control of their health, emphasizing that accurate knowledge is essential for making informed choices. The more information we have, the more power we’ve got over our health – which is everything.
Could you share a few important tips for women’s reproductive health?
I guess the first and main tip would be to always check in on your own body. If something doesn’t feel right to you, go and seek medical attention – don’t turn to Google. This is overarching. Otherwise, 5 basic health tips for women would be these:
- Listen to your body
- Prioritize self-care
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
- Be persistent in seeking answers for health issues
- Manage stress levels to reduce cortisol
Tell me more about endometriosis, PCOS, and other significant women’s health issues.
Endometriosis often goes undiagnosed for years, causing severe pain and fertility issues. It takes an average of seven years to get a diagnosis. By that time, if it is very severe, it can cause fibrosis and infertility.
PCOS leads to hormone imbalances and the inability to metabolize insulin, causing symptoms like weight gain and severe pain. Miscarriage is also a sensitive topic where women often wrongly blame themselves.
How do you address mental and emotional well-being in women’s health?
I provide scientific insights and let women decide how to integrate health practices into their lives. I avoid preaching, allowing women to make informed decisions. I focus on giving them the information — what they do with that information is up to them.
Is there any vital information you believe should be included in this campaign?
The key takeaway, especially off the back of endometriosis and PCOS, is to trust your body and advocate for yourself. Listen to your body and, if you sense changes, take your health into your hands and fight for proper care. Your well-being matters most.