Body image concerns in individuals diagnosed with benign gynaecological conditions: scoping review and meta-synthesis

Katherine Sayer-Jones, Kerry A. Sherman*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    91 Downloads (Pure)


    Benign gynaecological conditions (BCGs) and body image-related concerns are commonly experienced by reproductive-aged female-identified individuals. Qualitative evidence from cancer populations identifies a link between diseases of the sexual organs and body image distress encompassing appearance, sensory and functional aspects. Most BCGs and the impacts on body image have been studied separately. However, commonalities exist between these conditions including chronicity, diagnostic delays, and menstrual-related social stigma. This systematic scoping review and meta-synthesis aimed to compare and contrast the experience of body image in the benign conditions of endometriosis, polycystic ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, and vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia.
    Electronic databases (MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Scopus, CINAHL, Embase, and Allied and Complementary Medicine) were searched in February 2020 and relevant articles were examined to identify papers that qualitatively explored the relationship between body image and BCGs. Meta-synthesis was used to analyse the 17 papers that met the inclusion criteria.
    Six main themes evolved from this iterative analysis: loss of control; regained control; silence – menstrual concealment; cultural differences; feeling abnormal, and functional impairment. Body image concerns were widespread although impacts on individual’s lives were dependent on the unique symptom profile of each disease which interacted with socio-cultural factors, daily functioning, and feminine identity. Body image concerns were a common, but hidden, experience rarely screened in routine clinical settings despite causing significant distress.
    The chronicity and severity of individuals unique symptom profile often determined the intensity and type of body image concerns individuals described. Across conditions, body image concerns were often left untreated, were concealed, and were associated with reduced quality of life.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)456-479
    Number of pages24
    JournalHealth Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2021 The Author(s). Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • scoping review
    • meta-synthesis
    • benign gynaecological conditions
    • body image
    • qualitative


    Dive into the research topics of 'Body image concerns in individuals diagnosed with benign gynaecological conditions: scoping review and meta-synthesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this