The Lived Experience of Women Diagnosed With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

The Lived Experience of Women Diagnosed With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Research Problem and/or Purpose: The researchers wanted to know what the effect of polycystic ovary syndrome to the women with this condition, specifically on the quality of life of these women because the only qualitative research that was done previous to this reported that three common symptoms, hirsutism, menstrual problems, and infertility, influenced the participant’s feelings of femininity. Hence, in doing this research, not only will the previous findings be validated, but this research will also be able to determine if the aforementioned feelings can affect the patient’s quality of life. The purpose of the study was to explore the lived experience of women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Literature Review: The researchers utilized sources by Bogdan and Taylor (1975), Giorgi (1985), and Parse et al (1985) about conducting a qualitative research and more specifically a phenomenological study. This is important especially because this is their research design. The quality of life questionnaire was guided by the paper done by Cronin et al (2002). Majority of the researcher’s references showed that they utilized literature about polycystic ovary syndrome, which can give a thorough description of the disease, its effects, treatment, and other clinical considerations, which are mostly up to date. The researchers also took note of one previous qualitative research done by Kitzinger and Willmott (2002), regarding polycystic ovary syndrome and this served as the researcher’s guide in conducting this research.

Research Questions: Although not specifically stated, these are the questions that the research is trying to answer:

  1. What is the meaning of the experience of living with polycystic ovary syndrome?

  2. What are the lived experiences of the women with polycystic ovary syndrome?

  3. What are the effects of polycystic ovary syndrome to the women’s quality of life?

Research Design: The researchers utilized the phenomenological approach to answer the problem presented in this study mainly because this method in qualitative research is the only one that discloses the lived experiences of study population (Snyder, 2006). The impact of the experience of living with polycystic ovary syndrome on the over-all wellbeing and specifically on the psychosocial health of the women is being investigated. The design is appropriate because the purpose of the research and the question can be answered by employing this research design.

Sampling: Purposive sampling was done because the research already has a target population and the participants were taken from a large women’s health care practice in the northeastern part of the United States. A nurse practitioner on the institution identified the women with polycystic ovary syndrome and the nurse practitioner contacted these patients, informed them of the study, and asked them if they wished to participate. There were 12 women with polycystic ovary syndrome whose age ranges from 15 to 41. The sample size and the participants are appropriate for the study (Bogdan & Taylor, 1975; Parse et al, 1985).

Variables: Qualitative variables that were identified in this study were the quality of life and the transcribed responses revealed that the lived experience. However, these were not addressed.

Method of Data Collection and Analysis: Data was collected through interviewing each participant with an audio recording of the conversation. A professional medical transcriptionist transcribed all audiotapes. The transcribed interviews were also returned to the participants for their correction and most of them made minor grammatical corrections. Data collection was completed once saturation or data redundancy was reached with 12 participants and this small sample size is consistent with a phenomenological approach (Bogdan & Taylor, 1975; Parse et al, 1985). A general pattern of analysis based on Giorgi (1985) was utilized and this included rigorous analysis and interpretation of participants’ descriptions to uncover the meaning of the lived experience. Data analysis was done by analyzing each transcript as it was received. The researcher compared this analysis to previously analyzed interviews to achieve a thematic analysis. This method is compatible and consistent with the chosen research design.

Issues of Rigor: The researchers’ utilized reliable sources for the research and went through a thorough collection and analysis to ensure validity. The issues in data collection were the reluctance of some of the women to open up to the researcher, therefore the she used probing techniques such as silence, urging phrases, and nonverbal attending skills that helped her further clarify ambiguous information. The findings were verified with previous findings and analyzed thematically.

Legal Issues and Research Ethics: The researcher obtained Institutional Review Board approval, participants signed an informed consent. There is anonymity by the assignment of a number, and all data sources are kept locked in a file cabinet inside her home.

Limitations: The limitation of this study is the impact of the setting, a women’s health care practice in the northeast United States, on the ability of the researcher to generalize findings. Another limitation involves the small, homogeneous sample that was interviewed because the perceptions of the women in this study may not reflect those of a larger, more demographically heterogeneous sample.

Findings/Conclusions: Analysis of the participants’ transcribed interviews revealed that the lived experience could be described by seven distinctive experiences, namely, identifying differences, acknowledging impact on femininity, searching for answers, wanting to be normal, gaining control, letting go of guilt, and dealing with it.

Implications: For the nursing practice, the implications of this research include an accurate diagnosis and addressing the myriad physical problems that women with polycystic ovary syndrome suffer from is addressed. Nurses need to listen to the concerns of these women and build positive, supportive relationships with them. Nurse educators should include in their classes the importance of the aforementioned and referrals that are to be made in relation to the symptoms manifested by the women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome.

Recommendations: Future research is recommended to be done with adolescent females and postmenopausal women with the syndrome. Comparisons could then be made between the studies. The information that would be gathered would be useful in planning a comprehensive care for patients across the life span living with the challenges of this syndrome.


Bogdan, R., & Taylor, S. (1975). Introduction to qualitative research methods: A phenomenological approach to the social sciences. New York: Wiley.

Cronin, L., Guyatt, G., Griffith, L., Wong, E., Azziz, R., Futterweit, W., et al. (1998). Development of a health-related quality-of-life questionnaire (PCOSQ) for women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 83, 1976 – 1987.

Giorgi, A. (1985). Phenomenology and psychological research. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press.

Kitzinger, C., & Wilmot, J. (2002). The thief of womanhood: Women’s experience of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Social Science & Medicine, 54, 349 – 361.

Parse, R., Coyne, A., & Smith, M. (1985). Nursing research: Qualitative methods. Bowie, MD: Brady.

Snyder, B. (2006). The lived experience of women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological, & Neonatal Nursing, 35, 385-392.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *