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Fertility concerns and sexual behavior in adolescent girls with polycystic ovary syndrome: implications for quality of life.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the fertility concerns and sexual behavior of adolescent girls with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as compared to healthy adolescent girls and the effect of these concerns on health-related quality of life.

DESIGN AND SETTING: A cross-sectional study of adolescent girls with PCOS (n = 97) and healthy comparisons (n = 186) was conducted at an urban, hospital-based adolescent medicine practice. Participants completed the Child Health Questionnaire Version CF-87 as a measure of health-related quality of life and a general health history questionnaire that included items regarding sexual activity, contraception, fertility concerns, and severity of illness. Findings were evaluated using multivariate logistic and linear regression models.

RESULTS: Healthy subjects were 2.8 times more likely to have had sexual intercourse than PCOS participants, though the mean age at initiation of sexual intercourse among sexually active girls was not significantly different between the two groups. Severity of illness and the worry about fertility were not associated with odds of being sexually active. Girls with PCOS were 3.4 times more likely to be worried about their ability to become pregnant than comparisons and concern about future fertility was associated with significant reductions in quality of life.

CONCLUSION: Adolescents with PCOS are more concerned about fertility than their healthy peers and this concern may affect their overall quality of life. The finding that more than a third of the adolescents with PCOS in this study were sexually active underscores the importance of providing ongoing counseling on fertility issues, contraception, and STD prevention in the care of adolescent girls with PCOS.

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