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Women with PCOS are more likely to get covid-19, suggests this European study

Updated on:15 March 2021, 13:13pm IST
Research from the European Journal of Endocrinology has shown that women suffering from PCOS have an increased risk of covid-19 infection.
Aayushi Gupta
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Women battling PCOS ought to be more vigilant against covid-19. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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In the past one year, we have learnt that people with comorbidities and underlying health conditions need to be highly careful of covid-19 infection as they belong to the high-risk group of individuals susceptible to being infected due to weak immunity. 

According to a recent study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) tend to have an increased risk of being infected with covid-19. The study analysed the link between PCOS and covid-19 by studying 21,292 women diagnosed with PCOS and 78,310 without PCOS matched for sex, age and background in a controlled group. 

The outcomes of the study revealed that the women with PCOS have a 51% higher risk of contracting covid-19, compared to those of the same sex, age and background of those without PCOS. 

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is a hormonal, metabolic, and psychological disorder affecting women all over the world. If we talk about data, one in every five women is affected by PCOS and the most common reason for it is our sedentary lifestyle. 

PCOS and COVID-19
You just can’t afford to ignore PCOS. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Though symptoms may vary, the common signs of PCOS include irregular or no menstrual periods, heavy periods, excess body and facial hair, acne, pelvic hair, weight gain or weight loss, thinning hair and pregnancy related difficulties. 

The risks of having PCOS

Women with PCOS are associated with a higher risk of cardiometabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, high blood pressure and hypertension. Hence, these associated risks were also factored in by the researchers to ascertain the association between the metabolic risk in women suffering from PCOS and COVID19 infection.

Public health policies tailored for women with PCOS

“Given the high prevalence of PCOS, these findings need to be considered when designing public health policy and advice as our understanding of covid-19 evolves,” said first author, Anuradhaa Subramanian. 

Joint senior author Dr Krish Nirantharakumar, of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research, said that COVID 19 prevention strategies for women with PCOS should also carefully consider the need to protect mental health.

PCOS and COVID-19
If you have PCOS, then chances are your menstrual cycle is screwed up. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“The risk of mental health problems including low self-esteem, anxiety and depression is significantly higher in women with PCOS, and advice on strict adherence to social distancing needs to be tempered by the associated risk of exacerbating these underlying problems,” he adds. 

Further, co-author Dr Michael O’Reilly, of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, explains: “Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, women with PCOS consistently report fragmented care, delayed diagnosis and a perception of poor clinician understanding of their condition.

While both medicine and public policy will take its own course, it is prudent for women with PCOS to be extra cautious when it comes to observing precautions such as wearing a mask in public, washing hands with soap or maintaining social distance. 

Aayushi Gupta Aayushi Gupta

Candid, outspoken, but prudent--Aayushi is exploring her place in media world.