Review set to pave the way for International PCOS Guidelines

Friday, 05 August, 2022

Review set to pave the way for International PCOS Guidelines

A recent review of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) research and care, led by Monash University, provides a summary of best-practice evidence and advocates for greater funded research to address remaining gaps in knowledge about this often neglected condition.

The review highlights the need for dedicated services and enhanced uptake of evidence-based resources to optimise best-practice diagnosis, care and health outcomes in partnership with women. It also provides an up-to-date reference point for clinicians and other health professionals who provide health care to women with PCOS, according to the researchers.

PCOS affects 8–13% of women, with diagnosis requiring multiple consultations, often delayed and based on irregular periods, higher levels or signs of excess male type hormones, including excessive hair growth or severe acne, and ultrasound changes on the ovaries. The condition has metabolic, psychological and reproductive features and is one of the main causes of infertility in women.

Professor Helena Teede, from the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI) said the review paves the way for the 2023 release of the International PCOS Guidelines, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre for Research Excellence in Women’s Health in Reproductive Life.

“There are key knowledge gaps that clinicians have when diagnosing and treating PCOS. The review seeks to improve accurate diagnosis, limit treatment inconsistencies and address barriers to providing patient-centred care. It also highlights the need for holistic models of care to support women and for greater investment in research in this common, yet complex condition,” Teede said.

In 2020, MCHRI researchers released the free, evidence-based AskPCOS App, which has been co-developed with women and health professionals. It has 21,000 users across 178 countries and has significant information, a moderated discussion forum, symptom tracker, user-friendly infographics and tools to assist shared decision-making with healthcare providers. It was developed purely to inform women and their healthcare providers, and to improve health outcomes.

Teede said the researchers have engaged extensively with women who have PCOS, many of whom are frustrated with the delayed diagnosis and segregated management of their condition. To improve outcomes for women with PCOS, she said, health professionals must be more knowledgeable and partner with women, focusing on what matters to them, as outlined in the paper published in The Lancet, Diabetes & Endocrinology.

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