Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) causes anovulation and hyperandrogenism. Hormonal imbalance is known to contribute to systemic autoimmune diseases.
To examine the frequency of certain rheumatic diseases in PCOS.
This retrospective study utilized and analyzed electronic medical records from January 2004 through February 2020. A diagnosis of PCOS and specified rheumatic diseases was searched using ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes. A total of 754 adult patients with PCOS and 1,508 age- and body mass index-matched patients without PCOS were included. Frequencies of the rheumatic diseases were compared between PCOS and non-PCOS subjects or literature data.
The prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was found to be 2.25% (17/737) in the PCOS patients, numerically higher than 1.26% (19/1489) in the non-PCOS subjects. The difference was significant with a confidence level of 90% (1.04-3.15) but not at 95% with an odds ratio of 1.808 (95% CI = 0.934-3.4, p = 0.0747). When compared with the literature data from the US female population, the prevalence of RA in PCOS patients was significantly higher (2.25% vs. 1.40%, p < 0.0001). Among the autoimmune diseases examined, both systemic sclerosis (0.40% vs. 0.0%, p = 0.0369) and undifferentiated connective tissue disease (0.53% vs. 0.0%, p = 0.0123) were significantly more frequent in the PCOS patients than the non-PCOS. Additionally, PCOS patients had a significantly higher frequency of osteoarthritis than non-PCOS patients (5.44% vs. 2.92%, p = 0.0030) with an odds ratio of 1.913 (95% CI = 1.239-2.955).
We have shown unprecedentedly that certain rheumatic diseases are more prevalent in PCOS. This study provides important insight into autoimmunity in association with PCOS. Key Points • Polycystic ovary syndrome is postulated to cause systemic autoimmune disease due to its hormonal imbalance. • We conducted the first epidemiologic assessment of the prevalence of systemic autoimmune diseases. • Certain autoimmune and rheumatic diseases are more prevalent in polycystic ovary syndrome.