Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Women living with polycystic ovary syndrome

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

According to the UK website NHS Choices polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) three main features are:

  • irregular periods – which means your ovaries don't regularly release eggs (ovulation)
  • excess androgen – high levels of "male hormones" in your body, which may cause physical signs such as excess facial or body hair
  • polycystic ovaries – your ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) which surround the eggs (it's important to note that, despite the name, if you have PCOS you don't actually have cysts).
The aim of this study from the UK by Tomlinson et al (2017) titled: 'The diagnosis and lived experience of polycystic ovary syndrome: A qualitative studyand publised in JAN was to: 'explore the impact of the diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome on health/ill health identity, how women experience this diagnosis and their health beliefs'. Thirty-two women were interviewed and a range of concerns were identified including: 'general lack of empathy by the medical profession'; 'difficulty in accessing specialist referral'; 'lack of information from professionals' amongst other things. 

The authors concluded: 'Women face a great deal of uncertainty as the diagnosis of PCOS is not straightforward and this leads to a view that the medical profession has little regard for the emotional and social consequences of their condition. However, from a medical perspective, the doctors also face uncertainty as there are many conditions that can mimic PCOS. These findings suggest that the experience of women with PCOS would be improved if their principal concerns were better addressed.'

You can listen to this as a podcast


Tomlinson JPinkney JAdams L, et al. The diagnosis and lived experience of polycystic ovary syndrome: A qualitative studyJ Adv Nurs. 2017;00:19https://doi.org/10.1111/jan.13300

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