Determinants of emotional distress in women with polycystic ovary syndrome

Hum Reprod. 2006 Apr;21(4):1092-9. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dei409. Epub 2006 Feb 3.


Background: The goals were to analyse the incidence of mental distress in women with untreated polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) using self-report measures, to characterize PCOS patients at risk for psychiatric disease with regard to sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, and to assess the impact of emotional distress on quality of life.

Methods and results: Complete metabolic, hormonal, clinical and self-report psychological data [emotional distress, Symptom Check List 90 (SCL-90-R); quality of life, Short-Form Health Survey 36 (SF-36); sexual satisfaction, visual analogue scales; sociodemographic data] were obtained from n = 143 untreated women with PCOS. Prior psychiatric diagnoses were exclusionary. Twenty-two patients (15.4%) had a possible psychological disorder, based on SCL-90-R global severity index (GSI) scores > or =63 (SCL cases). SCL cases had significantly elevated body mass index (BMI), but did not differ from SCL non-cases in other clinical, endocrine, metabolic or sociodemographic variables. Stepwise multiple regression analyses identified GSI as a significant predictor of SF-36 Psychological Sum score, along with age and current wish to conceive (R2 = 0.47); the SF-36 Physical Sum score was predicted by BMI and education (R2 = 0.27), but not GSI.

Conclusions: Psychiatric illness may go undetected in a proportion of PCOS patients. Although the majority of patients exhibit subclinical levels of psychological disturbances, emotional distress together with obesity lead to large decrements in quality of life in PCOS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / psychology*
  • Quality of Life
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sexuality / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*