Background: Multimorbidity, presence of 2 or more chronic conditions, is a growing issue for patients as well as health systems. Reported prevalence of multimorbidity in females in a UK study was 23%. Presence of an additional chronic condition adds challenges to an existing condition. The difficulties of living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have been well described both in terms of dealing with the symptoms as well as the potential metabolic and mental health issues associated with this condition. Reports of multimorbidity are scarce in women with PCOS.
Methods: Post-hoc analysis of a lifestyle intervention study data (n=161) in overweight or obese women (Body Mass Index (BMI) ≥23 kg/m2 for Black and Minority Ethnicities and BMI ≥25 kg/m2 for White Europeans) aged 18 to 49 years with a diagnosis of PCOS. Patients with a confirmed diagnosis of diabetes were excluded from the lifestyle intervention study. Multimorbidity was defined as presence of at least one chronic condition other than PCOS reported by patients and corroborated by their medication list, or clinical measurements.
Results: 82 (51%) of 161 women (mean age 33.4, 69% white) had multimorbidity (58 white); 49 (one other chronic condition), 21 (two other chronic conditions) and 12 more than two. The most common conditions were; Asthma (34, 21%), Depression (24, 15%), Hypothyroidism (15, 9%) and Hypertension (13, 8%). Other recorded conditions (47 altogether) were: Epilepsy, Menieres diseases, chronic pain, irritable or inflammatory bowel diseases, Uveitis, Congenital Cardiomyopathy, Migraine, Multiple sclerosis, psoriatic arthritis, endometriosis.
Conclusion: The prevalence of multimorbidity in this young cohort of overweight and obese women with PCOS is high. Living with multiple chronic conditions and using multiple medications are added challenges and need to be considered when addressing their PCOS treatment.