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Ovary syndrome label upsetting women needlessly

A broadening of the definition of polycystic ovary syndrome has contributed to a steep rise in diagnoses and risks causing fear and anxiety, health experts say.

A broadening of the definition of polycystic ovary syndrome has contributed to a steep rise in diagnoses and risks causing fear and anxiety, health experts say

ovary
Diagnosis of PCOS can be challenging. Picture: Science Photo Library 

A broadening of the definition of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) has contributed to a steep rise in diagnoses, particularly among younger women, and risks causing fear and anxiety about future fertility and long-term health, experts say.

Writing in the BMJ, Tessa Copp of the University of Sydney and colleagues call for more transparent conversations with women and 'a slower, stepped or delayed approach to diagnosis' to avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful disease labelling.

Symptoms overlap

Symptoms of PCOS, first defined in 1935, tend to emerge in adolescence. But the authors argue that as symptoms overlap with common features of puberty, such as acne and irregular periods, diagnosis can be challenging.

They argue that until there is more adequate data, clinicians should provide treatment for the symptoms but avoid making a diagnosis, particularly in adolescents and women with milder symptoms, as they might experience prolonged distress and psychological anguish as a result of the diagnosis.


Copp T et al (2017) Analysis: Are expanding disease definitions unnecessarily labelling women with polycystic ovary syndrome? BMJ. doi:10.1136/bmj.j3694

 

 

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