In this post Rhonda Garad, Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow in Knowledge Translation at the Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation (MCHRI), and lead educator on the course Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: An Evidence-based Approach, explores polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and asks: how can healthcare professionals improve the lives of women with PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal condition affecting women in their childbearing years. It increases the risk of diabetes, diabetes in pregnancy, and endometrial cancer. PCOS is a common cause of infertility and it causes symptoms that can be very difficult to deal with, such as acne and hair growth in body areas like the face. Affected women also have a high risk of suffering from depression and anxiety, and weight gain and obesity are common. Between 8-13% of women have PCOS and in indigenous women in Australia, it’s up to 21%.
In addition to the unwanted symptoms, women find it hard to get a clear diagnosis, effective management of their condition, and high-quality information. In fact, too many women are told by doctors that they will be overweight and possibly childless for the rest of their lives, causing extreme distress.
How can this situation be improved? Professor Helena Teede, a treating endocrinologist and Director of Monash Centre for Health Research Implementation (MCHRI), realised the significance and severity of the problem and has resolved to fix it.
Firstly, she talked to women with PCOS and asked them what was important to them (a radical idea, even today). She then invited experts and researchers from around the world, over a three-year period, to assist in the creation of the world-first International Evidence-Based Guideline for the Assessment and Management of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). We have the evidence and now we need to change the practice.
Addressing this need, Monash University has developed an evidence-based and engaging course Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: An Evidence-based Approach, which has been accredited by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). Using authentic case studies and the Guideline, the course draws practitioners together from around the world to learn, discuss, and ultimately become change agents in delivering best practice in the assessment and management of PCOS.