dr Doireann O’Leary: The social media star says women need to demand better healthcare


Women across Ireland thank Dr. Doireann O’Leary not only for launching her eponymous supplement line, more on that later, but for giving them sleep.

If you’re unfortunate enough to live with a chronic snorer, Cork’s GP has new advice: invest in a didgeridoo. Playing the musical instrument can reduce the severity of snoring and perhaps keep your marriage intact.

That’s just a small nugget you can glean from the 34-year-old’s Instagram account – a platform brimming with easily digestible medical information.

“I don’t know if the sound of the didgeridoo would be worse than the sound of snoring, so I might get backlash from that,” laughs the popular paramedic over a call from her kitchen table.


The cork-based Dr. Doireann O’Leary with their range of health supplements

The cork-based Dr. Doireann O’Leary with their range of health supplements

The businesswoman, hailed for debunking medical misinformation and quelling mass panic during the pandemic, has used her social media presence to educate and engage with her 186,000 followers.

“I try to balance preaching and offering something lighter online because people want a little bit of fun and a little bit of relief,” she says.

“I don’t want to say, ‘You have to do this to reduce your risk of cancer,’ so I try to lighten it up when I can. When you put yourself online and people feel like they know and trust you, that comes with a certain responsibility.

“It’s so important to share really good and up-to-date evidence-based advice and correct information. The reason I started the site was because I saw so much misinformation online that just confuses people and I wanted to empower people.

“When there’s 200,000 views on a roll about folic acid, that’s empowering information and it feels good. I love being a GP and I’m so passionate about helping, but a lot of times when I’m online I just want to see what people are wearing and all the beautiful beauty stuff, so I’m just grateful that get people interested in what I do.”

Launching her own line of supplements, including folic acid capsules and a vitamin C spray, was an organic progression for the doctor, she says: “We’ve been working on it for well over a year.

“I’m really proud of it because it’s really good for people’s health. When people take their folic acid, vitamin D, B12 and omega fatty acids, it has been scientifically proven to benefit people’s health.

“For example, most of the time people take a multivitamin and have no idea what’s in it, or people take vitamins that they just don’t need. Only 50 percent of women in Ireland take folic acid. Taking supplemental folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects in developing babies.

“It’s so important that people know and understand what they’re taking.”

The health and wellness advocate is also not above sharing her own personal health struggles to raise awareness.

Doireann was just 31 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2019.

“A lot of people share their stories to help other people, and I never understood that before I got cancer – ‘why would anyone be so motivated to warn other people?’ But when you go through it, you want to tell people that this really simple test can help you and protect you and save your life.

“I’ve been so passionate about telling people I went for a swab and it was discovered so early that I’m alive and healthy and fit and healthy. I was 31, which was young for cervical cancer.

“I felt so healthy and comfortable and had no symptoms, I just wanted to get a routine swab. I was absolutely shocked when I received the results. I just didn’t see it coming.”

Encouraging women to take a stand for their own health, the doctor continues, “There is evidence that women are less listened to than male patients, but I think that is changing.

“The doctors I am surrounded by are so passionate about women’s health and take women seriously and study their symptoms. Basically all my patients are women.

“There is evidence that women may take longer to get a diagnosis, but women are now speaking up for themselves. Young girls in their 20’s are so good at coming in and saying ‘these are my symptoms and this is what I think and can we go from there’.

“Young people are so impactful and so articulate, and that’s the good thing about social media. People know so much more than doctors give them credit for. I find it so impressive from my followers point of view how informed they are.”

Doireann might look incredibly chic on social media, but the stylish practitioner joked that she doesn’t look all that flawless when it comes to her job.

“I try my best when I’m on TV or on camera, but my patients will see me without makeup, with my hair up and that’s the real me. I don’t always look like this, believe me. “

As a past burnout victim, Doireann also knows the importance of downtime, she adds: “I love to unwind at the weekend. I saw The Tinder Swindler. I’ve seen this twice, I’ve become obsessed, it’s ridiculous.

“I also love real estate shows like Dermot Bannon and Room to Improve — just don’t expect my house to look that immaculate.”

The dietary supplement range from Dr. Doireann O’Leary is available in pharmacies nationwide and on thebeautybasket.ie priced from €10.95 to €15.95

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