Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a lifelong condition. Its symptoms have been linked with psychological consequences, but less attention has been given to the daily implications of living with PCOS. We aimed to explore women’s experiences living with PCOS, and the potential acceptability of group education sessions for this target group.
Women with PCOS were recruited from an ethnically diverse UK community. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted. Analysis was underpinned by the constant comparative approach and involved the identification and exploration of key themes.
Participants reported a range of symptoms linked with PCOS, including problems relating to menstruation and weight difficulties. Hirsutism was reported as the most distressing symptom. Emergent themes included perceptions about symptoms and delays in receiving a diagnosis; psychological distress; practical implications of living with the condition; coping with PCOS and perceived support needs. Some findings were specific to cultural backgrounds. Participants were supportive of the idea of group education for women with PCOS and suggested a need to provide education within the community and health care providers.
Women with PCOS experience high psychological distress and difficulties with coping with their condition. Suggested strategies to reduce the negative psychological impact include education at various levels.