Defining the natural history of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

The CRE in PCOS New Knowledge topic ‘define the natural history of PCOS’ currently has five ongoing projects,
as led by Professor Helena Teede and Dr Anju Joham:
  • Indigenous health in PCOS
  • Reproductive health
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Metabolic health
  • Post menopausal health

If you would like further information about a research topic please contact the project lead.

define the natural history of PCOS

Indigenous health in PCOS

Project Lead: Dr Jacqueline Boyle   and Dr Michael Davies

Reproductive health

This research is generating novel community-based natural history data on PCOS, exploring complications, prevalence, treatments, consequences and the role of obesity. Most women with PCOS who need fertility treatment use ovulation induction, involving clomiphene citrate, aromatase inhibitors, metformin and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH); but there are concerns about their safety. We will perform unique data linkage studies between relevant prescriptions on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and perinatal outcomes, congenital abnormalities and will interrogate national birth data, our cohorts and newly established registries to establish clinical efficacy and safety.

Project Lead: Professor Michael Davies

Emotional wellbeing

There are higher rates and severity of depression and anxiety in PCOS and reduced quality of life (QoL). By bringing in psychological expertise, we will refine the PCOS QoL tool, prospectively collect mood and QoL data across the lifespan and generate new knowledge on anxiety, depression, eating disorders, sexual function and body image in PCOS. We will study interactions with infertility and obesity, both with potential to exacerbate mood disorders. We will have new opportunities to study psychological health and QoL in Indigenous populations with PCOS through health-services research and new models of care.

Project Lead: Professor Jane Speight

Metabolic health

Through our community-based cohorts, we will have a unique opportunity to study prevalence, severity and impact of rising obesity in PCOS. We have shown that in PCOS, young women are more overweight, gestational diabetes is increased three- fold and type II diabetes fourfold (independent of BMI), with diabetes occurring earlier. We are studying lifestyle, weight gain and diabetes incidence in PCOS. Closest kin of women with PCOS have increased metabolic and CVRFs; the CRE will expand this research through our cohorts to define familial risks informing family counselling and screening.

Project Lead: Professor Helena Teede

Post menopausal health

Reproductive and ovarian features of PCOS abate at menopause and retrospective diagnosis is difficult. Yet metabolic features including insulin resistance, diabetes and CVRFs escalate. With no quality longitudinal natural history studies, we lack data on incidence and prevalence of heart disease and stroke in PCOS. CIs Teede and Norman bring significant expertise in menopause, and the Lucina and ALSWH prospective cohort studies include postmenopausal women, enabling prospective study under the CRE on natural history of PCOS and long-term health risks at and beyond menopause.

Project Lead: Professor Michael Davies