"The whole package deal": Experiences of overweight/obese women living with polycystic ovary syndrome

Carolyn Ee, Caroline Smith, Lisa Moran, Freya MacMillan, Michael Costello, Brandi Baylock, Helena Teede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common female reproductive disorder with multiple manifestations. There are relatively few qualitative studies exploring the nature of living with PCOS despite its high prevalence. Qualitative research can enhance clinical practice via the provision of patient insights into the experience of living with their condition. Methods: We conducted two focus groups and three semi-structured interviews of Australian overweight/obese women with PCOS aged 18-46 years between March and April 2017 who were recruited through social media advertising. Interviews and focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was applied to the data, using the method of constant comparison. Results: Ten women contributed data from two focus groups and two semi-structured interviews. Five themes emerged from the data: complexity of the condition with its multiple manifestations, difficulties with delayed diagnosis and lack of information provided after diagnosis, negative experiences on social media and online forums and the need for support, frustration over lack of a "cure"; and the impact of symptoms and concern about long-term sequelae. Conclusions: Living with PCOS appears to generate a significant degree of anxiety about the future, dissatisfaction with current treatment models, and loss of feminine identity. Gaps in timely diagnosis, information and support provision need to be addressed. This includes supporting weight management as a fundamental concern for women with PCOS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number221
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Women's Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020


  • Obesity
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Psychological
  • Weight

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