Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Increases Risk of Eating Disorders, PCOS Symptoms Diminish After Bariatric Surgery
18 October 2016

Two studies presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Scientific Congress looking at Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) show that bariatric surgery can improve androgen excess and ovarian enlargement as well as result in weight loss, and that women with PCOS are at increased risk for eating disorders.

From 2009 through 2015, 33 women with a diagnosis of PCOS had bariatric surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. In a retrospective chart review, Drs. Falcone and Christ compared their pre- and post-operative records for characteristics of PCOS. They found that the women’s post-operative weight and BMI had gone down dramatically, the average weight declining from 126 kg to 96 kg and the average BMI going from 47.5 to 37.4. After surgery, ovarian volume declined; other characteristics of PCOS- total testosterone, free testosterone, and DHEAS- were decreased compared to pre-operative values, but not enough to reach clinical significance.

A cross-sectional study from the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated a significant increase in disordered eating and an associated decreased quality of life for women with PCOS. Patients with PCOS (121) and controls with regular menses and no hirsutism (57) answered questionnaires on eating disorders, night eating, and depression and anxiety. In addition, the PCOS group answered the PCOS Health-Related Quality of Life Questionnaire.  Women with PCOS had increased odds of having an abnormal score on the eating disorders questionnaire and more women with PCOS had abnormal anxiety and depressive scores than the controls. Relationships were found between both anxiety and depression and higher eating disorder scores.

“Women with PCOS experience a large set of painful, discouraging, and uncomfortable manifestations of the syndrome. The study showing reduction in symptoms after bariatric surgery is encouraging, but such surgery is an extreme remedy and only appropriate for a few. When treating our patients with PCOS, it is important to check in on their mental and emotional states. Screening for eating disorders, anxiety and depression in women with PCOS is something that could benefit many women,” said Owen K. Davis. MD, President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine

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