Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with an increased prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome

Dig Dis Sci. 2010 Apr;55(4):1085-9. doi: 10.1007/s10620-009-0890-5. Epub 2009 Aug 21.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electric Impedance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies