Weight loss and lowering androgens predict improvements in health-related quality of life in women with PCOS

Anuja Dokras, David B. Sarwer, Kelly C. Allison, Lauren Milman, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Allen R. Kunselman, Christy M. Stetter, Nancy I. Williams, Carol L. Gnatuk, Stephanie J. Estes, Jennifer Fleming, Christos Coutifaris, Richard S. Legro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Context: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with reduced health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and increased prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders. The impact of PCOS-specific treatments on these co-morbidities is unclear. Objective: To assess the impact of weight loss and decreasing hyperandrogenism on HRQOL and mood and anxiety disorders in women with PCOS. Design/Setting/Participants: A secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial (OWL-PCOS) of preconception treatment conducted at two academic centers in women (age, 18-40 years; body mass index, 27-42 kg/m2) with PCOS defined by Rotterdam criteria. Intervention: Continuous oral contraceptive pill (OCP) or intensive lifestyle intervention or the combination (Combined) for 16 weeks. Main Outcome Measure(s): Changes in HRQOL assessed by PCOSQ and SF-36 and prevalence of depression and anxiety disorder assessed by PRIME-MD PHQ. Results: The lowest scores were noted on the general health domain of the SF-36 and the weight and infertility domains on the PCOSQ. All three interventions resulted in significant improvement in the general health score on the SF-36. Both the OCP and Combined groups showed improvements in all domains of the PCOSQ (P<.01) compared to baseline scores. The Combined group had significant improvements in the weight, body hair, and infertility domains compared to a single treatment group (P < .05). In a linear regression model, change in weight correlated with improvements in the weight domain (P < .001) and physical well-being (P < .02), change in T correlated with improvements in the hair domain (P < .001), and change in both weight and T correlated with the infertility (P < .001) and menstrual domains (P < .05). Conclusions: Both weight loss and OCP use result in significant improvements in several physical and mental domains related to quality of life, depressive symptoms, and anxiety disorders, and combined therapies offer further benefits in overweight/obese women with PCOS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2966-2974
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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