New research finds that in 2021, healthcare costs for mental health disorders linked to polycystic ovary syndrome amassed almost $6bn.
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects how women’s ovaries function; the condition is common, becoming prominent in late teens or early adulthood. The three main features include irregular periods that indicate that the ovaries do not regularly release eggs, excess androgen is high levels of “male” hormones in the body and polycystic ovaries, which causes the ovaries to enlarge and contain fluid-filled sacs.
Mental health disorders are prevalent in women with polycystic ovary syndrome and new research presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting illuminates the financial burden of treating these conditions.
What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
Polycystic ovaries contain harmless follicles, and these follicles are underdeveloped sacs where eggs develop. In polycystic ovary syndrome, these sacs are often unable to release eggs, resulting in ovulation not occurring.
Some women with this condition may not showcase symptoms, however, it is common for women to face pregnancy difficulties, excessive hair growth, weight gain and hair loss on the head.
Currently, there is no cure for polycystic ovary syndrome, but symptoms can be alleviated through treatment.
“Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is also associated with an increased prevalence of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders,” said lead study researcher Adam Bonner, BS of the University of Alabama at Birmingham-Heersink School of Medicine in Birmingham, Ala.
Healthcare-related costs of mental health disorders
The researchers reviewed 19 studies which included 28,482 women with polycystic ovary syndrome and 27,124 without the condition to uncover the associated healthcare costs. They examined the likelihood of anxiety, depression and eating disorders in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. They found that women with polycystic ovaries were 77% more likely to have anxiety, 53% more likely to have eating disorders and twice as likely to have depression in comparison to women without the condition.
The researchers calculated the excess costs of mental health disorders in women with polycystic ovaries in the United States. They estimated the direct polycystic ovary syndrome-related healthcare costs were $2.987bn for depression, $2.216 billion for anxiety and $694 million for eating disorders.
“This work is the first to estimate the excess direct healthcare costs of mental health disorders associated with PCOS in the United States,” Bonner said. “Our findings mandate that the scientific, medical and policy community increase its focus on this important disorder.”