Exploring the Link Between PCOS and Cognitive Decline


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — PCOS, is a hormonal disorder that affects eight to 13 percent of reproductive-aged women. Now, recent research suggests that there might be a link between PCOS and cognitive decline later in life.

PSOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, affects 116 million women worldwide and is characterized by hormonal imbalances, irregular periods, and cysts on the ovaries.

A recent study published by the American Academy of Neurology found that women with PCOS may also have an increased risk of cognitive impairment. Researchers followed over nine hundred women over 30 years and found that those with PCOS performed worse on tests measuring memory, attention, and executive function.

Sepideh Shokouhi, PhD, Asst. Prof of Psychiatric and Behavioral Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center says, “I think understanding how sex influences biological processes in the brain that lead to Alzheimer’s and dementia can help us identify therapies that would work best for women.”

The exact mechanisms underlying the link between PCOS and cognitive decline are still being explored. However, hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, inflammation, and metabolic dysfunction associated with PCOS are thought to play a role.

Doctors say women with PCOS can protect their cognitive health by exercising, controlling their blood pressure, and keeping their cholesterol levels in the healthy range.

Shokouhi  says, “Beyond medicine, I hope to see an increase in women’s cognitive and mental health, including educational and lifestyle changes that can help us to become more resilient.”

Experts say other ways to protect your cognitive health include improving your sleep quality and your muscle strength.

Contributors to this news report include: Adahlia Thomas, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.










REPORT #3187

BACKGROUND: Polycystic ovary syndrome is a medical condition that results in the production of an abnormal amount of male sex hormones, called androgens, in the ovaries of women. This condition is characterized by the formation of numerous small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries. However, some women may have PCOS without developing cysts, while some women without PCOS may still develop cysts. The exact cause of PCOS is not clear. Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance. This means the body can’t use insulin well. Insulin levels build up in the body and may cause higher androgen levels. Obesity can also increase insulin levels and make PCOS symptoms worse. The condition affects an estimated 8–13% of women of reproductive age, and up to 70% of cases are undiagnosed.

(Sources: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos#:~:text=Polycystic%20ovary%20syndrome%20(PCOS)%20is,that%20form%20in%20the%20ovaries. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/polycystic-ovary-syndrome#:~:text=Key%20facts,a%20leading%20cause%20of%20infertility.)

SYMPTOMS: Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome usually appear around the time of the first menstrual cycle, but sometimes they may develop later after experiencing periods for a while. The symptoms can vary, but a diagnosis is made if you have at least two of the following: Irregular periods, few menstrual cycles, or periods that are not regular. Having periods that last longer than usual or for many days is also a common sign. High levels of androgen hormone can lead to excess facial and body hair this is called hirsutism, sometimes, severe acne and male-pattern baldness can happen, too. Many follicles containing immature eggs may develop around the edge of the ovary. The ovaries might not work the way they should. These signs and symptoms are typically more severe in people with obesity.

(Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439)

NEW LINK: New research has revealed another potential effect: cognitive dysfunction later in life. The new study involved 907 female participants, between the ages of 18 and 30 at the beginning of the study, who were followed for 30 years. The study participants completed tests on memory, verbal abilities, attention and processing speed. On the attention test, the 66 people with PCOS scored about 11% lower on average compared with participants without the condition. Those with the condition also scored lower on measurements of memory and verbal abilities. They also found brain scans revealed that compared with those without PCOS, 25 people with the condition had white matter in poorer condition, which can be an indicator of brain aging. White matter is made of bundled nerve fibers and helps coordinate communication between different regions of the brain.

(Source: https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/31/health/pcos-cognitive-function-study-wellness/index.html)

* For More Information, Contact:

Craig Boerner, Media Director

Vanderbilt University Medical Center


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