Nearly half of all women with the problem say they saw three or more health professionals before they were properly diagnosed, while a third said it took more than two years before their problem was identified.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania surveyed 1,385 women in 48 countries who had been diagnosed with PCOS and asked about their experiences in getting diagnosed and treated.
An early diagnosis is vital, say the researchers. In the immediate term, women with the condition can't get pregnant, and they put on excessive weight, and suffer from depression and anxiety as a result, and, in the longer term, they are also more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
PCOS is an endocrine disorder that affects up to 18 per cent of women around the world.