IJERPH, Vol. 19, Pages 15850: A Global Survey of Ethnic Indian Women Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Co-morbidities, Concerns, Diagnosis Experiences, Quality of Life, and Use of Treatment Methods (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Background: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrinopathy that is highly prevalent in women of Indian ethnicity. Clinical practice guidelines do not adequately consider ethnic–cultural differences in the diagnosing and care of women with PCOS. This study aimed to understand co-morbidities, key concerns, quality of life (QoL), and diagnosis experiences of ethnic Indian women living with PCOS. Methods: Global online survey of ethnic Indian women of reproductive age living with PCOS. Results: Respondents (n = 4409) had a mean age of 26.8 (SD 5.5) years and reported having a family history of type 2 diabetes (43%) and PCOS (18%). Most of them (64%) were diagnosed with one or more co-morbidities (anxiety/depression being the most common). Irregular periods, cysts on the ovaries, and excess unwanted facial hair growth were their three top concerns. On average, women experienced symptoms of PCOS at the age of 19.0 (SD 5.0) and were diagnosed at the age of 20.8 years (SD 4.8). We report a one-year delay in seeking medical help and a seven-month diagnostic delay, which were associated with poor satisfaction with the information provided related to PCOS and its treatment options (p < 0.01). Women living outside India reported difficulty losing weight as their most key concern; however, they had higher dissatisfaction with the information provided on diet (OR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.6 to 0.8; p = 0.002), exercise (OR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.6 to 0.9; p = 0.002) and behavioural advice (OR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.6 to 0.9; p = 0.004) than women living in India. Most women reported poor QoL in weight and emotion domains. Conclusions: Ethnic Indian women experience early onset of PCOS symptoms and delay in seeking professional help. Timely diagnosis, providing cultural-specific education related to lifestyle and weight management, and improving psycho-emotional support are key areas that should be addressed in clinical practice and future research.