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SALT LAKE CITY — As many as 1 in 8 women of childbearing age in the U.S. have polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition linked to infertility, irregular periods, hair growth, acne and weight gain.
a new study in Annals of Internal Medicine says that such women have a higher risk of self-harm, including suicide, compared to those who do not have the condition.
But the eight-fold increased risk may not be due to the health burden. Rather, research suggests it may be related to societal expectations.
Commonly called PCOS (pronounced P-thing), the syndrome is also associated with an increased risk of psychiatric conditions including anxiety and depression, among others.
“At this time, the exact cause is unknown and is likely multifactorial. High androgen levels may play a role. Many women with PCOS also have insulin resistance, which can also increase mental illnesses such as depression. Women with PCOS may have higher rates “The physical changes associated with PCOS may also increase depression/anxiety,” said Dr. Sun Kim, associate professor of endocrinology at Stanford Medicine, who was not involved. in the study, he told Medical News Today.
Experts emphasize that polycystic ovary syndrome can be treated.
Endocrineonline.org notes that research shows that women diagnosed with this disease 30 years ago have a normal life expectancy. Additionally, when researchers examined the death certificates of women who had polycystic ovary syndrome, they found “no excess risk” of cancer in any organ. The risk of heart disease also does not increase with the condition.
What is the syndrome of ovary polycystic?
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a female reproductive health disorder characterized by a hormonal imbalance that can cause infertility, obesity, and excessive facial hair. The US Office on Women’s Health said the imbalance creates problems in the ovaries, which can lead to irregular periods, which in turn can lead to infertility and the development of ovarian cysts.
The article said that most people first find out they have PCOS between the ages of 20 and 30, when they are having trouble getting pregnant. But it can occur at any time after puberty. The risk may be higher if someone is obese or if close female relatives (mother, sister, or aunt) have been diagnosed with PCOS.
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, women with PCOS may also have hair loss, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, darkening of the skin along the folds of the neck, in the groin, and under the arms. breasts, and skin tags in the armpits or neck area.
It has been associated with an increased risk of unhealthy cholesterol levels, sleep apnea, depression and anxiety, and endometrial cancer.
Thyroid disease is sometimes confused with polycystic ovary syndrome, according to the article.
What the study found
Researchers at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan used data from 18,960 people with polycystic ovary syndrome, each matched to 10 control subjects for age, comorbid psychiatric conditions, urbanization levels, and income. They found an 8.47 times higher risk of suicide attempts in the adolescent, young adult, and older adult groups.
“This suggests the importance of routine monitoring of mental health and suicide risk in people diagnosed with PCOS,” they wrote.
According to Yahoo!Life, “It’s important to note that this is not the first time PCOS has been linked to suicide. A nationwide study swedish studio published in 2016 found that women with PCOS were 40% more likely to attempt suicide than other women, and a 2022 study study “found that a recent diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome was linked to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts.”
According to the new study from Taiwan, teenage girls with PCOS had a five-fold increased risk of attempting suicide compared to the control group. People between 20 and 40 years old had nine times the risk. And those over 50 had the lowest risk, although it was still somewhat elevated compared to the control group, with a risk 3.75 times higher than those without PCOS.
Experts struggle to explain the elevated risk, but offer theories. Some postulate that it may be that the hormonal fluctuations associated with PCOS increase distress. Others theorize that associated conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, that can occur with PCOS, make depression worse.
Hillary Ammon, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Women’s Anxiety and Emotional Wellbeing, told Yahoo! Life that “many women report feeling dismissed or misdiagnosed after sharing their symptoms with medical providers.”
Treatment for PCOS varies, but may include hormonal contraceptives, antiandrogen medications, and metformin, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health.
“Healthy eating habits and regular physical activity can help relieve symptoms related to PCOS. Losing weight can help lower blood glucose levels, improve the way your body uses insulin, and help “It helps your hormones reach normal levels. Even a 10% loss in body weight (for example, a 150-pound woman losing 15 pounds) can help make your menstrual cycle more regular and improve your chances of getting pregnant,” according to the article.