Polycystic ovary syndrome: poorly understood and treated in general practice

  • Br J Gen Pract

  • curated by Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Medical News
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A study published in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) suggests there is room to improve the management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in general practice.

The mixed-methods study used an online questionnaire survey and semi-structured telephone interviews to capture women’s experiences of how PCOS is diagnosed and managed in UK general practice.

A total of 323 women completed the survey (average age 35.4 years) and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 women.

Participants described a variable lag time from presentation to PCOS diagnosis, with a median of 6-12 months.

Many experienced mental health problems associated with their PCOS symptoms but had not discussed these with the GP.

Many were unable to recall any discussion with their GP about associated comorbidities.

Some differences were identified between the experiences of women from white British backgrounds and those from other ethnic backgrounds.

From the experiences of the women in this study, it appears that in general practice, PCOS is not viewed as a long-term condition with an increased risk of comorbidities including mental health problems, the authors concluded.

“Our research shows that PCOS is not being viewed in primary care as a multi-systemic metabolic condition, the effects of which span a woman’s lifetime,” said lead author, Sarah Hillman, NIHR clinical lecturer in primary care. “We need to work with women to establish a timely diagnosis, provide treatment and support and reduce the risks of long-term conditions.”