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Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome had excess hair, irregular or absent menstruation, and infertility and felt freakish, abnormal, and not proper women

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QUESTIONS: What are the experiences of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)? How do they negotiate their identities as women?


Exploratory qualitative design.


United Kingdom.


30 women (mean age 29 y, 80% white) with PCOS recruited through a mailing to members of a national PCOS self help organisation.


Indepth, semistructured, tape recorded interviews were conducted in the women’s homes and lasted 45–90 minutes. The interview schedule was broad based and wide ranging, and was designed to allow women to tell their own stories. The interview schedule had open ended questions with prompts and follow up questions. Data were transcribed using simple orthographic notation, and analysis relied on organising sections of the data into recurrent themes.

Main findings

PCOS was very important in the everyday lives of most participants. Many women talked about the frustration and anger they felt about delays in diagnosis, the lack of information provided by health …

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  • For correspondence: Dr C Kitzinger, Department of Sociology, University of York, York, UK. celia_kitzinger{at}

  • Source of funding: no external funding.