The risks of polycystic ovary syndrome require mental health monitoring and treatment

The risks of polycystic ovary syndrome require mental health monitoring and treatment

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SALT LAKE CITY — One in 8 women of reproductive age in the United States has polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition associated with infertility, irregular menstruation, hair growth, acne and weight gain.

These women are more likely to self-harm, including suicide, than those without the condition, says a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

But the eight-fold risk may not be due to the health burden. Instead, research suggests it may be related to societal expectations.

Commonly known as polycystic ovary syndrome (pronounced P-cose), this syndrome is also associated with an increased risk of psychiatric illnesses including anxiety and depression, among others.

“At this time, the exact cause is unknown and is likely multifactorial. Elevated androgens may play a role. Many women with PCOS also have insulin resistance, which can also increase mental illness such as depression. Women may have Women with PCOS have higher rates of obesity and infertility, which are also linked to depression/anxiety. “And the physical changes associated with PCOS may also increase depression/anxiety,” Dr. Sun Kim, associate professor of endocrinology at Stanford Medicine, who was not involved in the study, told Medical News Today.

Experts confirm that polycystic ovary syndrome can be treated. notes that research shows that women diagnosed before 30 have a normal life expectancy. In addition, when the researchers looked at the death certificates of women with polycystic ovary syndrome, they found “no excess risk” of cancer in any organ. The risk of heart disease does not increase with this condition.

What is polycystic ovary syndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a female reproductive health disorder characterized by a hormonal imbalance that may cause infertility, obesity, and excess facial hair. The American Office of Women’s Health said that the imbalance creates problems in the ovaries, which may lead to irregular menstruation, which in turn can lead to infertility and the development of ovarian cysts.

The article said that most women first learn that they have polycystic ovary syndrome in their twenties and thirties when they have difficulty conceiving. But it can happen at any time after puberty. The risk may be higher if someone is obese or if a close relative — a mother, sister, or aunt — has been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Besides the symptoms mentioned above, women with polycystic ovary syndrome can also experience hair loss, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, darkening of the skin along the neck creases, in the groin and under the breasts, and skin tags in the armpits or neck area. .

A higher risk has been linked to unhealthy cholesterol levels, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, and endometrial cancer.

The article said that sometimes thyroid disease is confused with polycystic ovary syndrome.

What the study found

Researchers at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan used data from 18,960 individuals with PCOS, each matched to 10 control individuals by age, psychiatric comorbid conditions, urbanization levels, and income. They found an 8.47-fold increased risk of suicide attempts among the adolescent, young adult, and older adult groups.

“This indicates the importance of routine monitoring of mental health and suicide risk in people diagnosed with PCOS,” they wrote.

According to Yahoo!Life, “It is important to note that this is not the first time PCOS has been linked to suicide. A nationwide Swedish study published in 2016 found that women with PCOS were 40% more likely to attempt suicide.” Compared to other women, a 2022 study found that a recent PCOS diagnosis was associated with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

In a new study from Taiwan, teenage girls with polycystic ovary syndrome had five times the risk of attempting suicide compared to a control group. Those aged 20 to 40 have nine times the risk. Those over the age of 50 had the lowest risk, although it was still fairly high compared to the control group at 3.75 times greater than those without polycystic ovary syndrome.

Experts struggle to explain the high risks, but they offer theories. Some hypothesize that the hormonal fluctuations associated with polycystic ovary syndrome increase feelings of distress. Others argue that associated conditions such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, which can occur with polycystic ovary syndrome, exacerbate depression.

“Many women report feeling rejected or misdiagnosed after sharing their symptoms with medical providers,” Hilary Ammon, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Anxiety and Women’s Emotional Wellness, told Yahoo!Life.

Treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome varies, but can include hormonal contraception, antiandrogen medications and metformin, according to the US Office on Women’s Health.

“Healthy eating habits and regular physical activity can help relieve symptoms associated with polycystic ovary syndrome. Losing weight may help lower blood glucose levels, improve the way the body uses insulin, and help hormones reach normal levels. Up to a 10% loss” Body weight (for example, a 150-pound woman loses 15 pounds) can help make your menstrual cycle more regular and improve your chances of getting pregnant,” according to the article.

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Louis M. Collins

Lewis M. Collins covers policy and research affecting families for the Deseret News.

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