Postnatal depression in a community-based study of women with polycystic ovary syndrome

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2018 Jul;97(7):838-844. doi: 10.1111/aogs.13332. Epub 2018 Mar 13.


Introduction: Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are susceptible to depression and anxiety and so may also be at risk for postnatal depression. This study investigates whether women with polycystic ovary syndrome have an elevated risk of postnatal depression.

Material and methods: Cross-sectional data for parous women (n = 566) were available from a birth cohort. Polycystic ovary syndrome was diagnosed using the Rotterdam criteria. Details of reproductive history, pregnancy, birth, and postnatal depression were obtained through structured interview. Comparisons were made between women with and without polycystic ovary syndrome using logistic regression analysis, including the investigation of interactions.

Results: A positive but statistically non-significant association was found between polycystic ovary syndrome and postnatal depression (odds ratio 1.6, 95% confidence interval 0.9-2.9). Compared with their counterparts, women with polycystic ovary syndrome were substantially more likely: to have difficulty conceiving (odds ratio 5.2, 95% confidence interval 2.9-9.4), to have conceived with medical assistance (odds ratio 11.6, 95% confidence interval 5.5-24.4), and to have pregnancy complications (gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, or preeclampsia; odds ratio 2.0, 95% confidence interval 1.1-3.5). Where women with polycystic ovary syndrome had a history of miscarriage or conceived with medical assistance, the combination interacted (p = 0.06 and p < 0.05, respectively), with over half of such women having postnatal depression.

Conclusions: Although women with polycystic ovary syndrome may not have an excess risk of postnatal depression overall, those who had suffered a miscarriage or required medical assistance to conceive were at substantially elevated risk. Findings point to vulnerability inherent in polycystic ovary syndrome being amplified, either by stressful experiences on the pathway to pregnancy/childbirth or by specific fertility treatment regimens.

Keywords: Polycystic ovary syndrome; infertility; miscarriage; postnatal depression; postpartum depression; pregnancy complications; stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Reproductive History
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • South Australia / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires