The Experience of Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in the Military


Name: Dawnkimberly Hopkins

Rank: Lt Col

Organization: Geneva Foundation

Performance Site: David Grant USAF Medical Center

Year Published: 2018

Abstract Status:


Study Objective: To understand the experience of living with polycystic ovary syndrome as an active duty service member.Specific Aims:1. Describe the experience of living with PCOS as an active duty service member.2. Describe the branch-specific experience of living with PCOS as an active duty service member.3. Develop strategies to support the needs identified by service women related to maintaining overall health and military readiness while living with and managing PCOS.Design: This exploratory study will use a qualitative design interviewing a Tri-Service populationRationale: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most prevalent endocrinopathy of reproductive-aged women, ranging from 5 – 26% depending on diagnostic criteria applied. On December 21, 2017, the U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent S. Res.336, a resolution recognizing the seriousness of PCOS. Common manifestations of PCOS include overweight and obesity, abnormal menstrual cycles, increased facial and body hair, acne, and infertility. Metabolic abnormalities associated with PCOS, e.g., increased visceral adiposity, and insulin resistance contribute extensively to increased incidence of overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease. These abnormalities and associated complications have significant military operational and readiness implications. There is a dearth of literature exploring the experience of women with PCOS, none of which have considered a military population. Two PCOS manifestations that pose a particular challenge for service women, overweight and obesity are prevalent in 33 to 76% of women with PCOS. The unknown challenges these service women endure quite possibly negatively impact their military readiness. Therefore, understanding the experience of living with PCOS is paramount to supporting military women as they expand their career potential opportunities.

Methods: This hermeneutic phenomenology will use focus groups for data collection to understand the lived experience of the military women. Thematic analysis will be used for data analysis.Military Nursing Relevance: Sex-associated military job restrictions were removed in 2016, now all military careers are open to women. Service women with PCOS have significant challenges that impact their military operational and readiness status, which may impeded their qualification for these new job opportunities. Results from this study will provide critical information to develop interventions and inform healthcare policies that support service women with PCOS, and give them the tools to succeed in any military career path they wish to pursue.