Sexual Health Q&A

What are some of the psychological and emotional complications of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

In addition to physical complications, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can lead to a number of emotional and psychological issues for women:

Anxiety. The uncertainty associated with PCOS, from irregular menstrual periods to possible infertility, can make a woman feel insecure. She may feel pressure from her family or community to become pregnant and worry that it will not happen. She may also be concerned about the relationship with her partner, her weight (as many women with PCOS are obese), her overall health, and her increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions.

Depression. PCOS can make women feel depressed as well. They may not be able to engage in activities they once enjoyed because of health problems. If they are infertile or struggling to become pregnant, they may feel sadness as their friends and relatives have children.

Poor body image. Women may feel embarrassed by acne or excessive hair growth, both common with PCOS. They may feel damaged, especially if they are having trouble becoming pregnant.

Sexual issues. Sexual relationships can change for women with PCOS. Poor body image and poor self-esteem may decrease desire and arousal.

Women who experience these types of problems are encouraged to talk to their doctor. Counseling, therapy, and support groups can all benefit women with PCOS.