Psychological gender of patients with polycystic ovary syndrome

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2012 Jun;91(6):710-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0412.2012.01408.x.


Objective: We compared women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) to a control group with regard to intensity of hirsutism and psychological gender.

Design: Cohort study, 2005-2009.

Setting: Gynecological endocrinology clinic and gynecological practice, Silesian area, Poland.

Sample: 89 women aged 17-42 years with PCOS, in two groups (S1, S2) by age < or ≥31 years, and age-stratified controls of 45 healthy women.

Methods: We used the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ 12), Ferriman-Gallwey score and Psychological Gender Inventory, to assess masculinity and femininity through self-reported possession of socially desirable, stereotypical personality traits (masculine, feminine, androgynous, undifferentiated), supplemented by questions concerning social status (education, profession) and gynecological history. All questionnaires were anonymous and independently answered during clinic visits.

Main outcome measures: Influence of PCOS and concomitant hirsutism on psychological gender.

Results: Hirsutism (moderate or severe intensity) was observed in a considerably higher number of women from both PCOS groups compared with controls (S1: 49.0 vs. 20.0%, p < 0.05, S2: 41.9 vs. 16.7%, p < 0.05, respectively). Women ≥31 years with PCOS more often viewed themselves as sexually undifferentiated compared with controls (31.8 vs. 6.7%, p < 0.01), less likely to identify with a female gender scheme (18.2 vs. 33.3%), and more likely to see themselves as androgynous (50.0 vs. 40.9%).

Conclusions: Women with PCOS have, depending on age and severity of disease, problems with psychological gender identification. Duration and severity of PCOS can negatively affect the self-image of patients, lead to a disturbed identification with the female-gender scheme and, associated with it, social roles.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Hirsutism / psychology
  • Humans
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sexuality / psychology
  • Young Adult