Friday, 2 December 2016

SPHPM research uncovers years-long wait common for polycystic ovary syndrome diagnosis

According to a new SPHPM study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, nearly two in three women were dissatisfied with the length of time they waited and the number of healthcare professionals they had to see before they received a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Nearly half of the 1,385 women surveyed saw three or more healthcare providers before they were diagnosed and the diagnostic process took more than two years for a third of the survey respondents.

Lead authors on the paper, Dr Melanie Gibson and Professor Helena Teede from Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI) said not only were diagnosis timelines long but also lacking, with less than a quarter of survey respondents satisfied with the information they received about common treatments for PCOS.

“Despite the misleading name, PCOS is not primarily an ovarian condition, but instead a hormonal disturbance that is often inherited. PCOS’ diverse set of metabolic, reproductive and psychological features need to be addressed.

“Given the prevalence of PCOS, it is important for women and healthcare professionals to be more aware of the condition,” said Professor Teede.

PCOS is a chronic disorder that impacts metabolic psychological and reproductive health especially infertility. Women are diagnosed when they have at least two of the three key features of the condition:

    Ultrasound findings of immature eggs in the ovaries, which appear like cysts and are called polycystic ovaries;

    Slightly higher levels of testosterone and other androgen hormones than average; and/ or increased body and facial hair

    Infrequent or no menstrual periods.

An estimated 9 percent to 18 percent of women of childbearing age have PCOS. Women who have the condition face an increased risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The cross-sectional study involved an online questionnaire for women with PCOS who were at least 18 years old and had been diagnosed with the condition. Respondents lived in 32 countries.

“Our findings show women are dissatisfied with the diagnosis experience and that there are clear opportunities to improve awareness and health outcomes for women with PCOS,” said Professor Teede.

“The survey results will be used to inform international efforts to improve PCOS education.”


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