A new study has shown that women with PCOS are prone to mental health issues

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormone condition, affecting 7-10% of young women. A new study led by researchers at the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute at Cardiff University has shown that women with PCOS are prone to mental health issues including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and eating disorders.

The study assessed the mental health history of almost 17,000 women diagnosed with PCOS in addition to analysing records of 11 million patients, collected from 674 primary care practises across the UK. When compared with women unaffected by PCOS, the study found that those affected were more likely to have mental health challenges.

One of the study’s authors, Alan Reed acknowledged that there is a need for more understanding about PCOS. “PCOS is one of the most common conditions affecting young women, and the effect on mental health is still under appreciated.”

Alan concluded that more research was needed to fully understand the link between PCOS. “Further research is needed to confirm the neurodevelopmental effects of PCOS, and to address whether all or some types of patients with PCOS are exposed to mental health risks.”

The cause of PCOS is unknown, although it is thought to run in families. Women with PCOS have abnormal levels of hormones within the body, including high levels of insulin. PCOS can cause irregular periods, weight gain, excessive hair growth, oily skin and acne. Some women can find it difficult to get pregnant with PCOS because of a lack of, or irregular ovulation.

However, the symptoms of PCOS can be treated and managed. A healthy diet is vital, helping with insulin regulation and there are medications for excessive hair growth and fertility issues. Many women in the public eye have lived with PCOS and have had families, including Giovanna Fletcher, Jools Oliver and Victoria Beckham.

This study shines a light onto the wider impact of PCOS on young women and it is hoped that the results will lead to further work to support those living with the condition.

More information on PCOS is available at Verity.