Accepted Paper:

Embodied experiences of polycystic ovarian syndrome beyond "women's health"  

Author:

Kaitlyn Vleming (University of Toronto)

Paper short abstract:

While clinicians and patient resources tend to frame polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as primarily a reproductive health condition, I argue that this is reductive of many people's actual embodied experience of the diagnosis.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing on research that I have been conducting over the past year in Toronto, I argue in this paper that the normative biomedical framing of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as primarily a reproductive health condition is reductive of many people's actual experience of the diagnosis. More specifically, clinicians and patient resources tend to frame PCOS as primarily a women's reproductive health condition, echoing a larger trend within biomedicine of the reproductive essentialization of women. Several of the people I have interviewed have expressed frustration that their doctors do not seem to see PCOS as an issue to be treated unless/until they are trying to conceive; other symptoms of PCOS for which patients may desire biomedical intervention include hirsutism, hair loss, and increased risk for diabetes and heart disease (Women's College Hospital 2011). Further, the framing of PCOS as a fertility and therefore a "women's health" issue and its description in normative gendered terms, as causing higher levels of "male" hormones in women, excludes trans and gender nonbinary people, who are put in the uncomfortable position of accessing "women's health" clinics and other resources if they wish to seek treatment for the diagnosis.

Panel MB-MT04
Flexible reproduction: on the moving articulations of reproduction, technology and culture