Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and COVID-19: an overlooked female patient population at potentially higher risk during the COVID-19 pandemic

BMC Med. 2020 Jul 15;18(1):220. doi: 10.1186/s12916-020-01697-5.


Background: In women of reproductive age, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) constitutes the most frequent endocrine disorder. Women with PCOS are considered to typically belong to an age and sex group which is at lower risk for severe COVID-19.

Main body: Emerging data link the risk of severe COVID-19 with certain factors such as hyper-inflammation, ethnicity predisposition, low vitamin D levels, and hyperandrogenism, all of which have known direct associations with PCOS. Moreover, in this common female patient population, there is markedly high prevalence of multiple cardio-metabolic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension, which may significantly increase the risk for adverse COVID-19-related outcomes. This strong overlap of risk factors for both worse PCOS cardio-metabolic manifestations and severe COVID-19 should be highlighted for the clinical practice, particularly since women with PCOS often receive fragmented care from multiple healthcare services. Comprehensively informing women with PCOS regarding the potential risks from COVID-19 and how this may affect their management is also essential.

Conclusion: Despite the immense challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak to the healthcare systems in affected countries, attention should be directed to maintain a high standard of care for complex patients such as many women with PCOS and provide relevant practical recommendations for optimal management in the setting of this fast moving pandemic.

Keywords: Androgens; COVID-19; Diabetes; Hypertension; Obesity; PCOS; Polycystic ovary syndrome; SARS-CoV-2; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2; Vitamin D.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / complications
  • Hyperandrogenism / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Diseases / complications
  • Metabolic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2