Introduction: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects 5-10% of reproductive-aged women. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic intestinal disorder that affects up to 20% of adults, more often women. We evaluate if there is a relationship between these common conditions.
Methods: Polycystic ovary syndrome and control subjects were prospectively recruited. A questionnaire was given to determine their gastrointestinal symptoms. Body mass index (BMI) and percent body fat were also calculated.
Results: About 65 female subjects completed the study. Among the 36 PCOS patients, 15 subjects (42%) had IBS, compared to 3 subjects (10%) among controls (p < 0.01). Control subjects were leaner (BMI: 27.5 +/- 1.1 vs. 31.4 +/- 1.2 kg/m(2), p < 0.05) than PCOS patients. Among women with PCOS, those with IBS had a higher BMI (32.9 +/- 2.0 kg/m(2)) compared to those with PCOS but no IBS (30.3 +/- 1.6 kg/m(2)) and controls (27.5 +/- 1.1 kg/m(2); p < 0.05). This difference was true even after correcting for BMI and age (p < 0.01).
Conclusions: Women with PCOS have a higher prevalence of IBS compared to healthy controls. When IBS is present with PCOS, a higher BMI and percent body fat is seen compared to PCOS alone.