Bloody, hairy, and hormonal: An intimate geopolitics of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is fundamentally a life-long, complex endocrine condition that affects the entire body but most commonly known for disrupting ovary function. Drawing on auto-ethnographic research that centres the bloody, hairy, and hormonal dimensions of my PCOS body, this paper engages with conceptual debates of territory and borders in political geography to articulate an intimate geopolitics of PCOS. The paper brings intimate geopolitics, critical menstrual studies, and auto-ethnography into dialogue with one another as all three areas of scholarship share similar commitments to centring the body and lived experiences. Building upon intimate geopolitics that posits the reproductive body as a site for state territorialisation and lived experiences, I explore how working with the body as a corporeal whole and its constitutive parts, including menstrual blood, the female reproductive system, and PCOS hormone levels, enables conceptions of territory as dynamic and constituted by the coalition of myriad actants. Following this, an attention to borders in this intimate geopolitics of PCOS is twofold. Firstly, I think with hair to consider the ways in which borders are socially constructed and felt on the PCOS body. Additionally, the body's epidermis demonstrates how borders are lively, dynamic spaces at the edges of territory. The paper concludes that an attention to the PCOS body through auto-ethnography facilitates innovative thinking about intimate geopolitics, while also calling for further disciplinary engagement with PCOS and the menstrual.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102952
JournalPolitical Geography
Early online date4 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • intimate geopolitics
  • feminist geopolitics
  • body
  • territory
  • menstruation

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