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Polycystic ovary syndrome and postpartum depression symptoms: a population-based cohort study. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2021 Jun;224(6):591.e1-591.e12



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Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85100375484   6 Citations


BACKGROUND: Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are more likely to experience several pregnancy complications including hypertensive disorders, gestational diabetes mellitus, and preterm births than women without polycystic ovary syndrome. However, at present, there is limited research on whether polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with both anxiety and depression during pregnancy and whether this augments a woman's risk of postpartum depression, particularly among high-risk populations who have limited access to care.

OBJECTIVE: Our primary objective was to assess the association between prepregnancy polycystic ovary syndrome and postpartum depression, considering important baseline confounding factors. Our secondary objective was to evaluate the mediating role of prenatal depression and anxiety on the association between polycystic ovary syndrome and postpartum depression.

STUDY DESIGN: This study involved a population-based sample of 3906 postpartum (2-6 months) women who completed the Utah Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System Phase 8 questionnaire (2016-2018). Weighted adjusted prevalence ratios were used to assess the association between polycystic ovary syndrome and postpartum depression, considering potential confounding factors and assessing mediating effects of depression and anxiety experienced during pregnancy.

RESULTS: Following the exclusion criteria, 8.2% of women reported clinical polycystic ovary syndrome and 19.1%, 6.2%, and 4.4% reported irregular periods and acne, irregular periods and hirsutism, and all 3 symptoms, respectively. Moreover, 17.7% and 23.5% reported experiencing prenatal depression and anxiety and 9.5% and 10.2% reported experiencing postpartum depressed mood and anhedonia, respectively. Clinical polycystic ovary syndrome was associated with a 1.76 higher adjusted prevalence ratio (95% confidence interval, 1.03-3.00) for postpartum depressed mood or anhedonia after taking into consideration age, prepregnancy body mass index, race/ethnicity, education, and marital status. A similar higher prevalence was seen for irregular periods and acne (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.65; 95% confidence interval, 1.13-2.41), irregular periods and hirsutism (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.40; 95% confidence interval, 0.82-2.40), and all 3 symptoms (adjusted prevalence ratio, 1.75; 95% confidence interval, 0.96-3.19) and postpartum depressed mood or anhedonia. Prenatal depression and anxiety mediated 20% and 32% of the effect of clinical polycystic ovary syndrome on postpartum depressed mood and anhedonia, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Clinical polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with postpartum depressed mood and symptoms among this population-based sample inclusive of high-risk mothers. Prenatal depression and anxiety mediate this association, emphasizing the importance of prenatal psychological screening among women with polycystic ovary syndrome. An additional important clinical and public health implication of this study lies in the finding that nearly 20% of women in this population-based sample who reported at least 2 polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms (including at-risk women who may not have access to care) had not received a clinical diagnosis for polycystic ovary syndrome.

Author List

Koric A, Singh B, VanDerslice JA, Stanford JB, Rogers CR, Egan DT, Agyemang DO, Schliep K


Charles R. Rogers PhD Center Associate Director, Associate Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Cross-Sectional Studies
Depression, Postpartum
Middle Aged
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Pregnancy Complications
Retrospective Studies
Risk Factors
Self Report
Young Adult