Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are eight times more likely

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, according to a study of 18,000 patients

  • Adult patients have a 9-fold increased risk, while in teenagers it is 5-fold increased
  • Researchers say this is due to self-confidence issues that result from the symptoms
  • READ MORE: Chronic ovarian cysts increase a woman's risk of mental health problems

Women with a common reproductive disorder are eight times more likely to kill themselves than women without a reproductive disorder, according to a new study of nearly 20,000 women.

Researchers at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan analyzed the health outcomes of women ages 12 to 64 with polycystic ovary syndrome over a 15-year period.

The disease affects about one in ten American women of childbearing age – and impairs the functionality of the ovaries and thus fertility.

There are three main features of the condition; irregular ovulation, increased testosterone levels, and small, fluid-filled sacs that form on the ovaries.

This leads to a range of symptoms including missed periods, weight gain, excessive hair growth and fertility problems.

Studies show that about a third of infertility cases in women are related to PCOS.

Now, the latest research suggests that mental illness should be added to the list of life-destroying problems associated with this condition.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome develop fluid-filled sacs on their ovaries due to an excess of the hormone androgen and are at higher risk of mental illness, the study finds

PCOS has gained widespread attention thanks to public figures such as actress Daisy Ridley [pictured] who have shared their experiences with PCOS

PCOS has gained widespread attention thanks to public figures such as actress Daisy Ridley [pictured] who have shared their experiences with PCOS

The authors wrote: “Notably, individuals diagnosed with PCOS are at increased vulnerability to suicide attempts and self-harm compared to individuals without PCOS.”

As for the reasons for this, researchers suspect it may be partly related to self-confidence issues resulting from the symptoms.

Problems such as weight gain, acne and excessive hair growth can “adversely affect their body image and self-confidence and lead to psychological distress,” they explained.

They added: “Challenges related to fertility and managing PCOS symptoms could further exacerbate existing mental health problems.”

The condition has gained more attention in recent years, particularly as prominent women have spoken out about their struggles with PCOS.

Actress Daisy Ridley, for example, revealed in 2016 that the pain she suffered and the disease's impact on her complexion made her “so insecure” that her self-confidence was “in tatters.”

In their study, researchers examined women with and without PCOS and analyzed the percentage in each group who received psychiatric diagnoses known to pose a high risk of suicide.

These include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and substance/alcohol use.

A similar percentage of each group suffered from psychiatric disorders – about 10 percent.

However, researchers found that women with PCOS had, on average, an 8.47-fold increased risk of attempting suicide than women without PCOS.

When broken down further by age group, the authors found that the risk of suicide attempts was 5.38 times higher in adolescents, 9.15 times higher in adults under 40, and 3.75 times higher in older adults Control group.

The reduced risk of suicide attempt in older age may be due to an improvement in symptoms as women approach menopause, such as period regularity.

However, testosterone levels remain out of balance, which is why older women with PCOS still suffer from poorer mental health.

When researchers studied women without mental health problems, they found that PCOS patients were 8.34 times more likely to attempt suicide than women without the condition.

The authors said: “These results highlight the importance of physician vigilance in monitoring psychological well-being and suicide risk in patients diagnosed with PCOS.”

Their results were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.