Population-based Data at Ages 31 and 46 Show Decreased HRQoL and Life Satisfaction in Women with PCOS Symptoms

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2020 Jun 1;105(6):1814-1826. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgz256.


Context: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with decreased health-related quality of life (HRQoL), but longitudinal data beyond the reproductive years are lacking, and the impact of isolated PCOS symptoms is unclear.

Objective: To study generic HRQoL using the 15D questionnaire, life satisfaction, and self-reported health status in women with PCOS symptoms at ages 31 and 46 years.

Design: A longitudinal assessment using the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966.

Setting: General community.

Participants: The 15D data were available for women reporting isolated oligo-amenorrhea (OA; at age 31 years, 214; and 46 years, 211), isolated hirsutism (H; 31 years, 211; and 46 years, 216), OA + H (PCOS; 31 years, 74; and 46 years, 75), or no PCOS symptoms (controls; 31 years, 1382; and 46 years, 1412). Data for life satisfaction and current health status were available for OA (31 years, 329; and 46 years, 247), H (31 years, 323; and 46 years, 238), PCOS (31 years, 125; and 46 years, 86), control (31 years, 2182; and 46 years, 1613) groups.

Intervention(s): None.

Main outcome measure(s): 15D HRQoL, questionnaires on life satisfaction, and self-reported health status.

Results: HRQoL was lower at ages 31 and 46 in women with PCOS or H than in the controls. PCOS was an independent risk factor for low HRQoL, and the decrease in HRQoL in PCOS was similar to that of women with other chronic conditions, such as asthma, migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, and depression. The risk for low HRQoL in PCOS remained significant after adjusting for body mass index, hyperandrogenism, and socioeconomic status. Mental distress was the strongest contributing factor to HRQoL. PCOS was also associated with a risk for low life satisfaction and a 4-fold risk for reporting a poor health status.

Conclusions: Women with PCOS present with low HRQoL, decreased life satisfaction, and a poorer self-reported health status up to their late reproductive years. Assessments and interventions aiming to improve HRQoL in PCOS should be targeted beyond the fertile age.

Keywords: FAI; PCOS; QoL; aging; hirsutism; testosterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / psychology*
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Report*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires