Women With PCOS Should Be Screened for Mental Health Issues

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Aled Rees, MD, PhD
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute
Cardiff University School of Medicine, Health Park
Cardiff United Kingdom

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: PCOS is a common condition, affecting 5-10% of women globally, in which elevated male hormone levels can cause a range of distressing and life-limiting symptoms, including reduced fertility, irregular periods, excessive facial and body hair, and acne. Previous studies have suggested a link between PCOS and poor mental health in women but the studies were small and did not adequately take other factors that can affect mental health into consideration. In addition, high levels of testosterone during pregnancy have been reported to increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD and autism, in children.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: In this study, we retrospectively assessed the mental health history of over 17,000 women diagnosed with PCOS. The study followed these patients from PCOS diagnosis and across routine follow- up assessments, for a minimum of 6 months. When compared with unaffected women, matched for age, body mass index and geographical location, the study found that PCOS patients were more likely to be diagnosed with mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Children born to mothers with PCOS were also found to be at greater risk of developing ADHD and autism spectrum disorder.  

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: These findings suggest that women with PCOS should be screened for mental health disorders, to ensure early diagnosis and treatment and ultimately improve their quality of life.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Further research is needed to determine which components of the syndrome might be driving this increased risk, and indeed whether all patients with PCOS are at increased risk or only some. We also hope to investigate if genetic factors that contribute to the risk of PCOS also contribute to the risk of autism and ADHD, which may help to reveal new biological pathways implicated in these disorders, and lead to new treatments.  

Disclosures:  no relevant disclosures.


Thomas R Berni, Christopher L Morgan, Ellen R Berni, D Aled Rees; Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with adverse mental health and neurodevelopmental outcomes, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolismhttps://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2017-02667

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Last Updated on April 12, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD