Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Statistics

Key Takeaways

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects an estimated 8–13% of reproductive-aged women around the world.
  • Around 70% of women affected by PCOS remain undiagnosed worldwide.
  • PCOS is the most common cause of anovulation and a leading cause of infertility.
  • PCOS is associated with various long-term medical problems that affect both physical and emotional well-being.
  • PCOS is generally genetic, but there are ethnic variations as to how it manifests itself and affects women from different backgrounds.
  • By age 40, 40% of women with PCOS develop pre-diabetes or diabetes.
  • The United States government spends approximately $4 billion annually to identify and address PCOS.
  • Early pregnancy loss is estimated to be three times greater in those with PCOS than the ones without the condition. 
  • Women with PCOS are at 41% higher risk of miscarriage than the ones without it. 
  • The rate of premature delivery in people having PCOS is around 21% compared to that of the normal population at 10-12%.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It is a common condition that affects up to 10% of women in this age group. Women with PCOS may have irregular periods, excess male hormones (androgens), and small cysts on their ovaries.

Symptoms

The symptoms of PCOS can vary widely between individuals. Some women may have mild symptoms, while others may experience severe symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Irregular periods or no periods at all
  • Heavy periods
  • Excess hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, or back (hirsutism)
  • Acne
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Dark patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs (acanthosis nigricans)

Causes

The exact cause of PCOS is not known, but it is thought to be related to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Insulin resistance, which can lead to high levels of insulin in the body, is also a common feature of PCOS. This can cause the ovaries to produce more androgens, which can lead to the other symptoms of PCOS.

Diagnosis

PCOS is diagnosed based on a combination of symptoms, physical examination, and blood tests. Your doctor may order tests to measure your hormone levels, including testosterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and insulin.

Treatment

Treatment for PCOS depends on the individual’s symptoms and goals. Common treatments include:

  • Birth control pills: These can regulate menstrual cycles and reduce excess hair growth and acne.
  • Metformin: This medication can help lower insulin levels in the body and improve symptoms of PCOS.
  • Anti-androgen medications: These medications can block the effects of androgens and reduce symptoms such as excess hair growth and acne.
  • Lifestyle changes: Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can also help improve symptoms of PCOS.

Chapter 1: PCOS Statistics: At a Glance

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects an estimated 8–13% of reproductive-aged women around the world [1].
  • Around 70% of women affected by PCOS remain undiagnosed worldwide.
  • PCOS is the most common cause of anovulation and a leading cause of infertility.
  • PCOS is associated with various long-term medical problems that affect both physical and emotional well-being.
  • PCOS is generally genetic, but there are ethnic variations as to how it manifests itself and affects women from different backgrounds.
  • By age 40, 40% of women with PCOS develop pre-diabetes or diabetes.
  • The United States government spends approximately $4 billion annually to identify and address PCOS.
  • It is estimated that 50-70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance.

Chapter 2: PCOS Statistics in the US

Just like other parts of the world, PCOS is a matter of concern in the United States. Some of the statistics below might give you an idea.

  • In the United States, more than 5 million women suffer from PCOS. Some studies estimate these numbers to be more than 6 million. 
  • Somewhere between 6-12% of the total females in the US have PCOS, according to the CDC.
  • PCOS is the most common endocrine abnormality among people with ovaries of reproductive age in the US.
  • The number of females having PCOS varies considerably by location. For example, it is most common in the southern part of the country with around 47.5% of the cases
  • The North Central region of the country happens to be in second place with around 23% of the PCOS cases. 
  • The Western part of the United States is reported to have 18.7% of the cases, while
  • In the Northeast, the percentage of females having PCOS remains somewhere around 10.3%.
  • The US government spends an annual budget of more than $8 billion on research and management of PCOS, according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism [2]

PCOS Statistics in Different Parts of the US

The table shows the percentage of PCOS cases spread around the US. 

 

Region Percentage of PCOS cases
Southern Region 47.5%
North-Central Region  23%
Western Region 18.7%
Northeastern Region 10.3%

Chapter 3: PCOS Statistics around the World

PCOS is a condition that is prevalently genetic; however, it depends on a number of ethnic factors too resulting in varied manifestations. Here is an estimated breakdown of PCOS statistics in other parts of the world. Please note that these numbers are estimated and that a lower percentage also depicts the condition remaining undiagnosed. 

  • In Australia, the percentage of women affected by PCOS remains somewhere between 8-13% of the total female population. 
  • In Canada, it is around 6-10% of the total numbers. 
  • India and Pakistan are some of the most vulnerable regions in the world having 20% and 52% respectively of the total women suffering from PCOS.
  • In the UK, a considerable 20-25% of the female adults have PCOS. 
  • Mexico and Spain seem to stand somewhere between 6-7% of the total number of females.

 

Country Percentage of female adults with PCOS
Australia 8-13%
Canada 6-10%
India 20%
Pakistan 52%
UK 20-25%
Mexico 6%
Spain 6.5%
US 6-12%

 

Chapter 4: PCOS Statistics by Race and Ethnicity

This condition can be seen in people of all races and ethnicities, but research shows that some groups are more affected.

  • Middle Eastern women with ovaries of reproductive age are the most affected ethnic group with PCOS with an affected percentage of 5.3-18.6%.
  • Blacks are also affected by PCOS significantly with a percentage of 5-7% of the total female population. 
  • Whites remain affected by PCOS somewhere between 4-7%.
  • Chinese women stand somewhere between 4-7% too. 

Chapter 5: PCOS and Pregnancy Statistics

Individuals diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may experience challenges in achieving pregnancy due to reduced ovulation frequency, resulting in lower odds of conception. Here’s a more in-depth review of the associated probabilities.

  • Early pregnancy loss is estimated to be three times greater in those with PCOS than the ones without the condition. 
  • Women with PCOS are at 41% higher risk of miscarriage than the ones without it. 
  • The rate of premature delivery in people having PCOS is around 21% compared to that of the normal population at 10-12%.
  • The risks of pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) and preeclampsia (PET) increase two to three times in people with PCOS
  • The number of Cesarean Sections (C-Sections) is found to be twice in people with PCOS.

Chapter 6: PCOS and Related Health Conditions Statistics 

There is significant confusion regarding the cause and effects of health conditions related to PCOS. While some of the scientists see them as the leading cause, others call them an effect. In this context, PCOS is associated with several health conditions including Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Infertility. Nevertheless, some of the related health condition statistics are given below.

  • By age 40, 40% of women with PCOS develop pre-diabetes or diabetes.
  • It is estimated that 50-70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance.
  • Individuals with PCOS are 4 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and twice as likely to develop metabolic syndrome.
  • Fatty liver affects 15% to 55% of women with PCOS and can be improved by dietary changes.
  • PCOS women are 30 times more likely to have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
  • The rate of infertility is estimated to be 15 times higher in people with PCOS than in those without the condition. 
  • 80 percent of people with anovulatory infertility have PCOS.
  • Androgen excess (male hormone excess), seen in 60-80% of girls and women with PCOS, is a key problem in the disorder and likely comes from ovaries in most women.
  • More than 75% of the PCOS affectees do not receive timely diagnosis of the condition from their healthcare provider.

Chapter 7: PCOS and the Risk of Associated Diseases

While researchers remain uncertain about whether PCOS is the root cause of these issues or if the relationship is reciprocal, or if there are other conditions that contribute to both, it is established that these challenges frequently manifest in individuals with PCOS. Here are some of the medical concerns that PCOS puts you at higher risk for. 

  • Diabetes: At least half of the people with PCOS develop Type 2 diabetes or glucose intolerance by the age of 40. 
  • Cardiovascular Diseases: PCOS puts people at a higher risk of heart diseases, increasing with age, resulting in almost twice the risk
  • Insulin Resistance: About 50-70% of the PCOS affectees experience insulin resistance which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes in the worst case scenario.
  • Unhealthy Cholesterol and Obesity: The risks of unhealthy cholesterol (LDL) and obesity increase almost two to three-fold in people with PCOS
  • Fatty Liver: Fatty Liver affects 15-55% of people with PCOS and can lead to severe related health conditions. 

Sources:

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/polycystic-ovary-syndrome

https://www.nutritioncareofrochester.com/article.cfm?ArticleNumber=53

https://www.verywellhealth.com/pcos-facts-and-statistics-5498625

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/

https://www.endocrine.org/patient-engagement/endocrine-library/pcos

https://www.livestrong.com/article/13765305-pcos-statistics/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34546364/

Conclusion

PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that can have significant health consequences if left untreated. Women with PCOS should work with their healthcare providers to manage their symptoms and reduce their risk of developing related health conditions. With appropriate treatment and lifestyle changes, women with PCOS can lead healthy and fulfilling lives.